Prospective Doctoral Student Recruitment and Retention Program

A funding and partnership opportunity with the Graduate School

Proposals due Monday, April 1, 2024

A main goal of the Graduate School’s strategic plan Illuminating the Path Forward, is to implement inclusive recruitment and retention practices, in order to advance diversity and inclusion at MSU. The Graduate School is committed to promoting change through leadership and a variety of innovative programs and strategic initiatives.  

To this end, a fundamental goal of the Prospective Doctoral Student Recruitment and Retention Program (PDSRRP) is to help doctoral programs at MSU recruit, retain, and support a diverse group of traditionally underrepresented domestic doctoral students who will contribute in meaningful ways to the intellectual, geographical, racial, and ethnic diversity of the future professoriate and professional fields. Through this program, the Graduate School offers a seed-grant program and partnering opportunities for doctoral programs that develop a plan for the sustained recruitment, professional development, and graduation of a diverse doctoral cohort. New grant awards will begin in July 2024. Award amounts will be $10,000 for up to three years; however, subsequent funding after the first year is competitive and will be dependent on successful completion of stated program objectives and expenditure of funds.

Existing Graduate School programs such as the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) and Advance to Adventure (ATA) Prospective Graduate Student Visits have sought to provide rewarding opportunities for an inclusive group of prospective graduate applicants to visit MSU. The MSU Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Community, MSU’s involvement in the NSF-CIRTL network, as well as an array of career and professional development programs and workshops support students as they move toward faculty careers.  

The Prospective Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention Program seeks to build upon these efforts in a more sustained and systematic way.  Recruiting and retaining traditionally underrepresented graduate students with strategic initiatives is vital to creating and maintaining inclusive graduate programs.  With this in mind, a major purpose of the PDSRRP is to fund programs that offer holistic, comprehensive proposals to address recruitment, retention, and graduation of traditionally underrepresented graduate students. By bringing together a group of departments/programs with focused support by the Graduate School, we hope to effectively leverage existing programs and to share resources and strategies to maximize success.   

The Graduate School will fund a limited number of new proposals in 2024. Information about previously-awarded departments/doctoral programs since the program’s inception in 2017 is included below.

Call for proposals:

Doctoral programs are invited to submit proposals for the Prospective Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention Program by April 1, 2024. Decisions will be made by May 2024. If your unit receives funding for this program, a Post-Activity Report will be required each year a program is awarded PDSRRP funds. This report should be brief and concise and will be due by May 1, 2025 (and a similar date if awarded in future years). While preparing proposals, keep in mind that proposals with a comprehensive plan to support recruitment, retention, and graduation will have the strongest chance of being awarded. (Thus, proposals that focus only on recruitment, for example, will be less competitive for this award.)

Applications (5 single-spaced page maximum) should be sent to and include the following:

  • Contact person(s): Who will be in charge of facilitating the recruitment and retention program? Do any of the unit’s faculty members have expertise in this area?  If yes, please describe.   
  • Brief overview of the issues and/or challenges related to diversity and inclusion that you seek to address. Please describe any current strategies for recruiting and mentoring URM graduate students, and assess their effectiveness.  
  • A brief summary of the proposed recruitment activities: For instance, what events will you plan for visits?  Will specific faculty members reach out to potential applicants?  Do you have any plans for cultivating any cross-institutional partnerships?  Please also highlight how the proposed recruiting practices differ from previous practices.  For instance, in what ways has the department attempted to enhance or expand the diversity of the graduate student population over the past three to five years? How would the department describe the success of those initiatives? What have been the primary obstacles to recruiting underrepresented graduate students? Potential supported activities might include (but are not limited to): research faculty commitment to serve as mentors in summer research opportunity programs (SROP) when there are students who might be a good candidates for graduate admission to their departments; support for recruitment trips to particular campuses or conferences (including, when appropriate, in coordination with Graduate School partners), with plans for follow up; explorations of new partner programs with HBCUs, HSIs and tribal colleges; and/or new admissions initiatives. 
  • A brief summary of the proposed retention and graduation support activities: Describe your plans for supporting underrepresented graduate students after they are admitted into the program.  Issues to consider could include mentoring, workshops, research opportunities, networking programs, new professional development opportunities, etc. Be specific in how your plans will intersect with or build on current Graduate School retention and graduation support programs. Potential supported activities might include (but are not limited to): professional development activities for current students (including links to existing Graduate School programs, where appropriate); and/or new mentoring programs;
  • Faculty commitment: Please provide a statement confirming the unit’s commitment to ensure that participating faculty in the unit will participate in activities designed to enhance the diversity programming, such as workshops, summer mentoring, etc.  The proposal should indicate key faculty who will be involved, as well as the specific efforts they will participate in (e.g., recruitment, mentoring, summer research, etc.).
  • Budget: Please outline a summary budget that includes a comprehensive plan and timeline for the use of funds, beginning July 2024. Proposals may include program plans for second and third years of funding; however, subsequent funding after the first year is competitive and will be dependent on successful completion of stated program objectives and expenditure of funds in the awarded year(s) (e.g. a second year funding will be based on the success of the program in Year 1; a third year of funding will be based on the success of the program in Years 1 and 2). A commitment for a partial funding match from the department and/or college must be included in the proposal. 
  • Assessment: Please provide a statement confirming the unit’s commitment to (1) assess and evaluate the recruitment and retention program as implemented in the unit and (2) provide related outcomes and evaluative summaries to the Graduate School reporting on the activities of the program for the funding period. Programs that are selected should identify Mikala Rioux ( as the fiscal officer for the project.

The Graduate School will support graduate programs’ efforts through:

  1. compiling and sharing local and national data;
  2. providing support for departmental analyses of practices and programs as outlined in proposals;
  3. providing information on best practices in mentoring and retention, based on what we have learned through NSF, NIH, Mellon, and CGS grants;
  4. creating connections with external institutions already participating in SROP, AGEP, and NSF-CIRTL activities;
  5. providing support for assessment and evaluation.    
  6. Prioritizing slots for students in SROP and in current retention programs, when these are included in the proposals. For examples, see this list.

Please contact Graduate School Associate Dean Dr. Terah Chambers ( with any questions.