The Graduate School’s DEI Office focuses its work on a broad range of diversity categories including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic origin and ability status. Our priorities are guided by the goal of building and maintaining a caring and supportive community. We allow the diversity of student identities and our academic commitment to analytical, evaluative, and interpretive learning, to direct our steps as we create initiatives and policies that help students thrive and achieve their educational, personal and professional goals.
Priority I: Inclusion & Belonging in Graduate Life
The graduate school experience often focuses on the academic and professional identity of the graduate scholar. In an effort to support the holistic development of graduate students, we offer a rich portfolio of inclusive education, student development, and student engagement programs and initiatives. Our graduate school’s strong commitment to inclusion and belonging, guides our efforts to offer resources, services, and opportunities that culturally enrich the graduate student experience on our campus.
Inclusive Education Programs
In this podcast series, graduate students engage in critical conversations about issues
of justice, equity and inclusion. Each semester, a graduate level course takes on
the podcast series as a final project and the students in the course develop, facilitate/host,
and record episodes based on the course topic. This initiative is a partnership with
the Center for Innovation in Higher Education located within the College of Education.
Faculty Lounge @USC
This virtual public access series invites national higher education scholars to have critical conversations about racial justice in higher education. As part of a partnership with SCETV Education, the webinar episodes are open for public access via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. The public can also access all past episodes of the series as an audio podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. The SCETV webpage on the partnership can be accessed here.
Student Development Programs
Graduate Inclusive Leadership Symposium
The USC Graduate Inclusive Leadership Symposium addresses our university’s strategic goal to provide our students with opportunities to flourish and thrive both on our campus and in their future careers. A departure from the traditional research conference, the Inclusive Leadership Symposium is an opportunity for graduate students to participate in diversity-focused leadership development, build peer support networks, and expand their capacity to become stewards of social change within their respective fields.
Graduate students participate in sessions focused on topics such as: Cultural Leadership; Equity-Driven Leadership Across Disciplines; Culturally Inclusive College Teaching; Self-care and Restoration; Personal Finance & Economics; Adjusting to Culture, Life & Leadership in the U.S.; Professional Politics; Salary Negotiation for Professionals of Color; and Understanding Contemporary College Students.
Student Engagement & Community Building Initiatives
In an effort to build a communication network with graduate student leaders, the graduate school hosts afternoon tea once a semester with the Dean of the Graduate School and the Associate Dean of DEI. Student attendees include the appointed leaders of graduate affinity groups and scholar communities associated with the graduate school (Grace Jordan McFadden Fellows, SREB, Presidential Fellows, Graduate Civic Scholars).
During these sessions, representative student leaders are able to share and discuss
graduate student needs, issues, ideas and expectations of the institution. The luncheons
also offer the administrative leaders of the graduate school an opportunity to keep
students informed of important university updates.
Graduate Student Appreciation Week
Organized by the Graduate School in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association, this annual week of activities is hosted to show support and appreciation for the contributions, impact and value of graduate students to the field of higher education. The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students established this initiative in 1993.
Priority II: Inclusive Excellence
The USC Strategic Plan, “For South Carolina: A Path to Excellence,” includes increasing diversity as a major strategic priority. Specifically, the plan calls for our university to create, promote, support and assess a campus culture/climate that embodies our Carolinian Creed and makes every member of our university community feel valued and affirmed.
Inclusion, as defined by the Association of American Colleges & Universities is: “The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.” The inclusive excellence initiatives in the USC graduate school aim to expand the knowledge and capacities of our students, faculty and staff to work, study, lead and live in an increasingly diverse world.
Graduate Faculty Professional Development Series
The graduate faculty professional development series offers an engaging learning experience
for the faculty who coordinate or teach in graduate programs at the university. Each
year, a national scholar is invited to lead our faculty and administrative leaders
in conversations aimed at transforming and advancing our approach to teaching, learning,
admissions, assessment, and other policy issues that directly impact student access
and success. Participants are particularly encouraged to deeply consider how issues
of exclusion and inequality influence our existing policies and practices and what
opportunities exist to develop strategies to eradicate these issues.
Graduate Student DEI Trainings
An online diversity training module is available for graduate students and is required of all incoming graduate students. This requirement, which was mandated in 2020 for all incoming undergraduates has been extended to graduate students at the request of the Graduate Student Association and with the expressed support of the Graduate School, the Equal Opportunity Programs office, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Priority III: Diversity Recruitment
As part of the university’s goal to attract and retain a highly qualified and diverse
student body, the university is committing to (1) recruiting, retaining and graduating
high-achieving students and (2) becoming more accessible and affordable for all students.
Following this call, the graduate school is developing a comprehensive and long term
effort to intentionally boost diversity recruitment.
This effort includes the creation of a senior diversity recruiter position; the establishment of several graduate admission partnerships with Historically Black Colleges & Universities across the state of South Carolina; and the development of undergraduate pipeline initiatives aimed at attracting the nation’s brightest undergraduate scholars into our graduate programs.
Graduate Fellowships & Scholarly Initiatives
Open to prospective and current doctoral and MFA students, this program prepares ethnically or racially underrepresented graduate students to become professors. Scholars are provided $40,000 in funding over 4 years and receive training specifically designed to help them thrive as faculty in higher education.
We partner with the SREB to provide full tuition abatement and additional funding for underrepresented minority students who are interested in becoming professors.
Resources for the Graduate School Community
University DEI Leadership
The USC strategic plan, identifies increasing diversity as a strategic priority for the university. Specifically, the plan calls for the university to “Cultivate a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus culture where every individual, regardless of background, has the full opportunity to flourish and thrive.” Read more here.
The university Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion works closely with university students, faculty and staff to create and sustain an inclusive learning, living and working environment where all members of the university’s community feel that they are welcomed, valued and supported. For more information on university-wide diversity services, programs and opportunities visit their website.
Each college or school has a diversity officer who reports to the dean. Diversity officers develop and implement unit-level strategic plans for diversity and inclusion focusing on composition, achievement, engagement and inclusion as the attributes of their inclusion efforts. Diversity officers also serve as student advocates and critical resources to help students navigate their college-level academic experience. To contact the diversity officer in your college or to learn more about CADO visit here.
Resources for Graduate Faculty
- Center for Teaching Excellence Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolbox
- Faculty and Staff Safe Zone Trainings (Office of Multicultural Student Affairs)
- Center for the Education & Equity of African American Students
- Center for Civil Rights History and Research
- University of California San Francisco
Talking about Race and Inequity in Science – Guide for Faculty
- University of Minnesota
Faculty Fighting Racism Website
- University of Southern California
Race and Equity Center
- University of Michigan
National Center for Institutional Diversity
- National Conference on Race & Ethnicity
National Conference on Race & Ethnicity
Resources for Graduate Students
Campus Based Services and Opportunities
- Research centers
USC is home to research centers and institutes in many disciplines.
- Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
- Student Disability Resource Center
- International Student Services
Graduate Student Cultural Organizations
- LGBTQ+ Graduate Students
- Graduate Student Association
- Black Graduate Student Association
- International Student Association
- Alliance of Latinx and Black Graduate Students
- Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander Graduate Students
- Carolina Equality Alliance
- Individuals Respecting Identities and Sexualities
- Hillel Foundation
- Global Leadership Network
In partnership with the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, the Department of Student Life provides the University community a calendar of holidays, observances, and religious holy days. To learn about which days the University is formally closed or class is not in session, please visit the University's holiday schedule as well as the university academic calendar.
Explore Columbia’s Local Cultural Heritage
- Columbia SC 63: Our Story Matters
- Historic Columbia
- Columbia International Festival
- Columbia Jubilee Festival
- Native American History at SC State Parks