UCF welcomed more than 10,000 graduate students to campus this fall, a first in the university’s history.

A total of 10,173 students are working toward a graduate degree this semester, indicating we have reached the goal of 10,000 outlined in the Collective Impact strategic plan a few years ago. That equates to 13 percent of UCF’s total student population.

“Graduate students enrich our community and help us conduct life-changing research.” – Devon Jensen, the associate dean for the College of Graduate Studies

“Graduate students enrich our community and help us conduct life-changing research while advancing their education to become leaders in their chosen field,” says Devon Jensen, the associate dean for the College of Graduate Studies. “We work hard to help get students here and to build a supportive community.”

Helping students is the focus of the college, which works with programs across campus to attract the best students to UCF.

The college organizes several events each year to educate students and the community about why graduate education matters and to support students already here. One of which is the annual Grad Fair,  which takes place Thursday in the Pegasus ballroom starting at 4:30 pm.

The fair is set up to showcase the many advanced degrees offered at UCF including the four programs available for the first time this fall. They are:

“We offer a broad range of programs that can help candidates advance in their careers,” Jensen said. “And we are always looking to see what is needed in industry to make sure we offer our students an experience that will make them stand out.”

All of UCF’s different colleges offer some graduate program from certificates to master’s degrees and to doctoral programs. UCF’s doctoral enrollment grew 44 percent from last year coming in at a total of 2,238 new and returning students this year. Those students are working at the most challenging level to achieve degrees that can take up to seven years to complete. UCF’s graduate students also have different pathways to completing their degree with 55 percent of graduate students going to school part time.

The college understands the reality of working and going to graduate school and having a life in general. That’s why it offers so many support services from the Graduate Student Center where students can study in groups or hang out to the Pathways to Success program, which offers students an opportunity to learn about Academic Integrity, Graduate Grantsmanship, Graduate Teaching, Personal Development, Professional Development and Research.

The university is also moving ahead to enhance opportunities for postdoctoral candidates.

“We are working to increase the number of postdoctoral scholars with a goal of 200 by 2020,” says Winston Schoenfeld the acting associate dean for the College of Graduate Studies.

The college launched the Preeminent Postdoctoral Program or P3 in 2016 with the goal of attracting outstanding scholars in all disciplines. The program helps faculty hire postdoctoral scholars who are new in this role at UCF by providing matching funds.

The program has led to an increase of postdoctoral scholars from 75 to more than 180 in 2019.

In 2017, the college also began the Diverse Academic Opportunities Program, which is aimed at prospective doctoral applicants from underrepresented populations in higher education to learn more about the programs they’re interested in before applying to graduate study at UCF. The program brings some of the best prospective graduate students in the nation to the campus in October to see what UCF has to offer.  This year 28 doctoral prospects from all over the country will be visiting the campus.

“We keep looking for opportunities to help our students,” Schoenfeld says.  “This program enables us to support a diverse graduate student population and ensure they are making informed decisions for graduate education at UCF.”