Ph.D.s with muscle

$1M initiative will make doctoral programs more competitive

As part of its effort to strengthen Ph.D. education, Tufts will commit $1 million a year to a new program, the University Graduate Competitiveness Initiative, which will begin with this fall’s entering doctoral class.

The initiative complements the year-old Provost Fellowship program, said Vincent Manno, associate provost. “The Provost Fellowship focuses on a small number of individuals, the best of the best,” Manno said. “The Graduate Competitiveness Initiative is more of a broad initiative, an infusion of funds to increase the competitiveness across the doctoral programs.”

The goal of the initiative is threefold, Manno said: to increase stipends, especially for teaching assistants, so as to increase Tufts’ ability to compete for top-notch students; to enhance diversity among Ph.D. students; and to provide incentives for faculty in areas where external funding is available for graduate assistants.

“Each school has drafted a plan, and I will be working with the schools to understand and to provide feedback on how to refine these plans to achieve the three goals for this program,” Manno said.

Also, to the extent possible, the funding will be used to recruit Ph.D. students who will contribute to the diversity of the graduate student body. “In some fields, diversity is very much racially or ethnically based; in others, for example, engineering, gender diversity is also important,” said Manno. “Sometimes the biggest challenge is to recruit a diverse candidate, to have them come to Tufts, see what we’re doing, to get them excited about Tufts,” especially when the candidate is being courted by other institutions as well.