Graduate Student Appreciation Week Content

April 3, 2024
Students working in a lab

This week is Graduate Student Appreciation Week: a chance to celebrate the more than 5,500 graduate students who pursue their calling within an ever-growing roster of Master’s and Ph.D. programs at Baylor. Although they comprise nearly a quarter of the University’s overall enrollment, their contributions can fly under the radar. To those with whom they work and serve, however, their impact is widely recognized.

“Graduate students serve Baylor’s mission in many different ways,” Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., says. “They work in research labs with faculty and mentor undergraduate students learning how to do research. They teach and mentor in classrooms, labs and clinics across campus. During the Illuminate era, they were a critical element in achieving R1 status.”

As the University celebrates Graduate Student Appreciation Week, here are five ways graduate students advance the Baylor mission.

Teaching and Mentorship

For nearly 180 years, Baylor has been known for excellent undergraduate teaching, and its reputation remains elite. Graduate students play a meaningful rule in burnishing that reputation. In classrooms and labs, Baylor graduate students teach and mentor as they themselves are taught and mentored by the faculty in whose labs or courses of study that they serve.

“We value the opportunity to train and shape a new generation of scholars, people that care deeply about the world and want a set of skills to make the world a better place,” Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., professor of sociology, said. “That means being available and showing them how to be professionals in teaching, in service, in communicating, in community outreach — not just giving information but showing how to use those skills to serve others and break new intellectual ground.”

Trained by Baylor’s outstanding teachers, graduate students receive excellent marks for teaching themselves, and they grow professionally through the process of teaching it to the next generation.


How does an institution like Baylor grow to become an R1 research university, recognized among the nation’s elite? There are plenty of metrics to meet (more on that in a moment), but at a basic level, it means dozens of labs across campus are operating at a high level, earning major research grants, and advancing knowledge in their discipline on a sustained basis.

That wouldn’t happen without graduate students.

“Being in the biology department, I use the metaphor of graduate students being the lifeblood of our University,” Joe Taube, Ph.D., said. “In research, nothing would really happen without them. They’re the ones who end up driving the bus on our projects and they do outstanding work.”

If you think of research labs as a small business, graduate and Ph.D. students manage numerous research projects, write papers, interact with both professors and undergrads and help their faculty mentors operate the lab on a daily basis—at a level that helped elevate Baylor among the best of the best.

R1 Metrics

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education includes Ph.D.s awarded as a benchmark for reaching R1 recognition. As Ph.D. students choose Baylor, they keep Baylor well above the threshold needed for R1 status. In fact, Baylor has enjoyed steady growth in the number of Ph.D. programs and students, with nearly 900 Ph.D. students currently enrolled.

Real-World Impact

Not all Baylor graduate students are on campus. More than 3,000 students are part of Baylor’s Online & Hybrid Professional Education Program, learning remotely as they continue professional obligations all across the nation. With an average age of 34, they’re pursuing career advancement and impact in disciplines like education, business, physical therapy, social work and more.

While it’s exciting to serve students all across the country, it’s even more exciting for Baylor faculty to interact with professionals having an impact within their profession.

“It’s very participatory, working together to share and discover knowledge,” Gary Carini, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Institutional Research and Professional Education, said. “We listen to our students about the challenges and opportunities they face and wrestle through these questions together. Many of them are serving in their field or their community as they study and it is meaningful to have them as a part of the Baylor Family.” 

Extend the Baylor Line

As they leave Baylor with Master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in hand, Baylor graduate students go out into the world and leave a mark at other organizations or institutions. Baylor graduate students have gone on to faculty positions at Penn, Cornell and dozens of other institutions of all types, not to mention research labs and industry positions around the globe. While other graduate schools can claim the same, Baylor is distinct as it prepares graduates to be salt and light within their discipline, wherever it takes them.

“Graduate education at Baylor, just like undergraduate education at Baylor, strives to integrate faith with learning,” Larry Lyon, Ph.D., Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, said. “Baylor’s graduate school, unlike almost all other R1s, provides seminars and workshops that help students who wish to do so, grow spiritually, providing models of how their growing disciplinary knowledge can enhance their faith.  Second, Baylor chose to repeat our undergraduate focus on quality teaching as we developed our graduate programs.  At the graduate level, of course, the teaching is often more mentoring than lecturing, but the idea of treating the student as a whole person reflects our undergraduate history.”

In short, Baylor graduate schools are trained at the highest levels just like other institutions, but take something different into the workplace—a difference that extends the Baylor Line wherever they go.

Happy Graduate Student Appreciation Week!