Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine: Dean’s letter

The Great Value of Graduate Students

Fall 2017

We at Baylor write, speak and editorialize about our undergraduate student body on a regular basis. We support them, contribute to their causes and celebrate their successes. We should and must do these things, as our undergraduates are the lifeblood of our beloved institution. I know from numerous conversations that our students feel the same devotion towards the faculty.

But note that the word “student” in this context is plural. It includes, or it at least it should include, our graduate students. This sometimes forgotten constituency is every bit as important –– not because of their numbers, but because of their potential to help bring the Baylor message of excellence around the world.

Our graduate students in Arts & Sciences number about 625 at any given time. Last year alone we graduated 169 of them (98 masters, 71 doctoral). The graduate student body is a diverse group, with women last year making up 43 percent and men 57 percent. Twenty-six percent are students from minority ethnic groups, while 15 percent are international students who come here from six continents. Of our 25 academic departments in Arts & Sciences, most offer masters degrees while 14 offer doctoral degrees, and many departments offer both. Our two newest doctoral degrees are in history and environmental science.

Our graduate students are teachers, too. They educate and mentor the undergraduate students in laboratory settings and serve as teachers-of-record in lecture settings. They also receive strong student evaluations and conduct research of the highest order. Just this past year our doctoral students published 332 peer-reviewed articles –– a very impressive achievement. Graduate students attend national and international conferences, sharing their discoveries and meeting people of influence.

Upon graduation, Baylor graduate students obtain jobs in academia, industry and government. With their advanced degrees they are positioned to quickly become influential as policymakers, trendsetters, researchers and leaders of important causes.

Many of our undergraduates go on to graduate school, sometimes here at Baylor and sometimes elsewhere. Some of you can relate because you, too, went on to obtain a postbaccalaureate degree. In fact, in some fields the working degree today is the master’s degree. I have heard many stories about the preparedness of our students taking this career path. We provide a strong intellectual foundation in the liberal arts tradition here at Baylor. Our graduates are smart, professionally trained, steeped in fundamentals and all are grounded in a moral Christian ethos. No wonderful they are successful!

I think you will be surprised at the incredible quality of these future leaders, and will have an even stronger impression of our outstanding graduate programs and faculty. This forgotten group — our graduate students — should be forgotten no longer. They are some of our best students, and they are important in helping Baylor fling the green and gold far and wide.

Dr. Lee Nordt
Dean of the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences

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