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Drive to Twenty Five Doctorates awarded plan

Doctorates awarded plan (draft)


Increase the number of doctorate degrees awarded by the WSU system



Click graph to enlarge | Graph description


Increasing the number of doctorates graduated from WSU will have the following benefits:

  • Enhance the university’s research productivity and reputation, thus augmenting:
    • the ability of faculty to compete for external funding.
    • the recruitment of highly qualified students who are pursued competitively by peer institutions.
  • Facilitate the recruitment and training students from demographics underrepresented in graduate education, which will expand the cultural diversity of the institution as well as enhance the economic opportunities of these students and their communities.
  • To make the leap into the top 25 public research universities, the WSU system needs to produce > 470 doctorates, an increase of ~50%
Overarching strategies
  • Grow capacity and enrollment
  • Enhance funding
  • Improve and diversify training opportunities
Recommended key activities to support strategies
  • Assess, and where appropriate, incentivize growth of faculty capacity to train a larger population of doctoral students
    • Collect data, at the program level, on national trends for the number of doctoral students graduated relative to number of tenure/tenure-track faculty, and compare to data for WSU programs.
    • Evaluate data from the Washington and US Departments of Labor as well as Graduate School data on placement of Ph.D. students to establish current trends in employment of doctoral students.
    • Develop policies and procedures that promote engagement of faculty with doctoral training, including alignment of workloads expectations to recognize mentoring graduate students as a component of WSU’s educational mission.
  • Grow the capacity to train doctoral students at campuses and research sites across the state of Washington.
    • Create an institutional culture that recognizes system-wide distribution of graduate education as an advantage, rather than a hindrance.
    • At the level of department chairs and college deans, develop policies and funding mechanisms to break down barriers and ensure that participation in doctoral training is encouraged by faculty without regard to their campus location.
    • Examine limitations and difficulties for students pursuing their research at non-Pullman sites (such as availability and affordability of health care and housing) and identify creative means to address these issues.
    • Make hiring and funding decisions with an eye to developing a critical mass of faculty that can effectively engage in interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations for training graduate students and competing for extramural research funding.
  • Develop policies to target limited internal resources toward support and growth of doctoral education.
    • Implement policies which provide incentives for programs to direct current resources toward doctorate training, rather than funding of alternative research personnel (g. thesis master’s or staff support).
    • Recognize the contribution of doctoral students to the undergraduate education mission of WSU by maintaining or increasing the funds for teaching assistantships.
  • Increase funding from external sources to support doctoral education
    • Pursue activities proposed in the action plan regarding the metric to increase extramural grant funding, which is a key resource for providing research assistantships for doctoral students.
    • Develop policies to use institutional graduate student support (g. state-funded RA’s or tuition waivers) to leverage proposals for extramural grant funding.
    • Facilitate the efforts of graduate programs to apply for training grants through institutional support for application preparation (g. collection and analysis of data from program assessment).
    • Provide mentorship to enhance the competitiveness of individual graduate students to apply for distinguished fellowships.
    • Promote graduate education as a priority for the growth of philanthropic support and WSU Foundation fundraising activities; increase development funds that can be directed toward graduate student scholarships and fellowships.
  • Foster implementation of highly effective recruiting strategies.
    • Assess results from current recruiting efforts utilized by graduate programs across the WSU system to determine what are the most effective strategies.
    • Utilize faculty outreach to establish pipelines from four-year institutions in the western US, particularly those serving underrepresented populations.
    • Harness faculty scholarly productivity, such as presentations at other research institutions or discipline-specific regional and national meetings, to raise the national profile of WSU as a destination for doctoral training.
    • Grow university-wide and program-specific recruitment strategies that effectively target students from demographics under-represented in graduate education.
  • Assess, and where appropriate, enhance the effectiveness of doctoral education.
    • within existing doctoral programs
    • by developing new, innovative doctoral programs, and
    • by providing professional development training to ensure that doctorates are competitive in a diverse job market.
Expected outcomes
  • Enhancement of the state economy by providing the human capital of a larger work force with advanced training in research, scholarship, technology and communication as well as the professionals skills to adapt to the ever-changing workforce needs..
  • Preparation of the next generation of scholars who will lead the state and nation in innovative thinking, problem-solving, investigation, and discovery.

Initial measures of success toward achieving the long-term goal of this metric are:

  • increased admissions to doctoral programs
  • improved retention of first- and second-year students
  • decreased attrition of senior (ABD) students who fail to complete their degree or leave with a master’s degree only
  • decreasing average time to degree where appropriate
  • tracking the successful placement of doctoral graduates

A prerequisite to establishing quantitative measures of success will be careful analysis of program assessment data, collected by individual degree programs and the Graduate School, to establish a baseline for current strengths and weaknesses and prioritize areas for improvement.

Working group members


Daniel J. Bernardo
Office of the Provost

Lisa M. Gloss
Graduate School

Committee members

Larry Clark
University Marketing and Communications

Eleanor Dizon
Department of Human Development

Brian French
Department of Educational Leadership, Sport Studies, and Educational/ Counseling Psychology

Alan Love
School of Economic Sciences

Jim Petersen
Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Gary Pollack
College of Pharmacy, Spokane

Christine Portfors
Academic Affairs, WSU Vancouver

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Department of Psychology


Full report

Read the working group report