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Understanding Graduate Education Structure at UMN

Graduate vs. Professional Education

Graduate vs. Professional Programs

  • The University of Minnesota makes a formal administrative distinction between the research masters and PhD programs (graduate programs) and all other post-baccalaureate degree programs (professional programs).
  • The Graduate School is responsible for oversight of the research degree (graduate) programs.
  • The academic colleges have primary oversight of their own professional programs.
  • You can refer to this chart to see which programs are categorized as graduate versus professional.
Collegiate Structure

Collegiate Structure

  • The University of Minnesota is organized into 17 colleges and schools and offers more than 130 research-based masters and doctoral degrees.
  • Each college has an associate dean for graduate programs who acts as a liaison between the Graduate School and departments at collegiate level and plays a leadership role in graduate education and postdoctoral training within the collegiate unit.
  • We recommend that you ask your department chair and director of graduate studies to refer you to specific collegiate policies and requirements you need to be aware of related to graduate education and postdoctoral training. 
Program Roles

Every graduate program has dedicated staff members who can help you gain a deeper understanding of the structure and goals of your department’s graduate programs, and graduate students’ needs. 

Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC)

  • GPC is a staff member within each graduate or professional program who provides graduate students with information about the program and its requirements, and who works in close partnership with the director of graduate studies and graduate faculty  to identify ways to help the program be more successful.
  • As an example, you can approach the GPC if you have questions about documentation necessary to finalize preliminary examination or final defense, program requirements or milestones, or other program specific practices related to graduate education. 
  • Find your program's GPC

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)

  • A DGS serves as the coordinator of graduate studies within a program. Together with the graduate program faculty and department and collegiate leadership, the DGS shares responsibility for guiding and improving graduate education within the program(s) under the DGS's jurisdiction.
  • As an example, you can approach the DGS to discuss how your teaching aligns with the graduate program or ask for guidance on student advising or the expectations and responsibilities of graduate faculty in the department or program.
  • Find your program's DGS
Decentralized Model for Graduate Education

Decentralized Model for Graduate Education

  • Graduate education at UMN is decentralized, meaning that the Graduate School’s role is to provide services to programs, faculty, students, and postdoctoral scholars relevant to constituents across all of our research-based graduate programs, to establish priorities for graduate education and postdoctoral training, and to advocate for and support best practices. 
  • Within the policy parameters set by the institution overall, each college, department or program has the freedom to design and tailor its graduate programs, curriculum, and policies to meet the specific needs and goals of its students and faculty.
  • Faculty members should be aware of institutional, collegiate, and departmental policies and requirements, and should consult with their department head/chair and DGS if they have questions about their role and responsibility as graduate faculty.

Taking Advantage of the Graduate School’s Resources

Student Academic & Professional Development

Student Academic and Professional Development

  • GEAR (Graduate Education Resources) is a series of online tools that help your students through every phase of their academic and professional development, whether they aspire for a career in academia or an industry beyond campus. 
  • Workshops and events: The Graduate School helps connect your students with programs, resources, and events to help them identify potential career paths both inside and outside of academia, compete for in-demand positions, and manage their career.


  • The Graduate School Diversity Office (GSDO) supports and enhances graduate education by serving in an advisory capacity, leading initiatives, and collaborating across the University of Minnesota system. Our work encompasses recruitment, funding, retention, advocacy, and education of students from underrepresented communities. The signature programs of the GSDO prioritize domestic graduate students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC), inclusive of their intersectional identities, as they have been historically excluded in graduate education.
  • Diversity of Views and Experience (DOVE) Fellowship seeks to assist graduate research programs to promote a diversity of views, experiences, and ideas in the pursuit of research, scholarship, and creative excellence through the recruitment and support of academically excellent students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Summer Institute (SI) is a seven-week summer bridge research opportunity for incoming DOVE Fellows and domestic BIPOC graduate students.
  • Community of Scholars Program (COSP) provides DOVE Fellows and domestic BIPOC graduate students with opportunities to find community in support of their academic and professional goals.
  • First Gen Connect (FGC) is a supportive network for first-generation college students who are in graduate programs at the University of Minnesota.
  • Faculty & Staff Diversity Resources & Consultations are available for graduate programs, departments, and colleges seeking to explore strategic approaches to recruitment and retention efforts for underrepresented graduate students.
Faculty Advising Resources

Resources for Graduate Faculty and Advisors

  • Positive advising and mentoring relationships are one of the most important features of leading to the success of graduate and professional students. The Graduate School offers resources to help support your development as a mentor and advisor of graduate students.

Explore Faculty Advising Resources

Fellowships & Grants

Fellowships & Grants

  • Fellowships, grants, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and loans provide the most common forms of support for graduate students. Explore and stay up to date on fellowship and grant opportunities available for your prospective, incoming, and current students.

Go to the Graduate School Funding page for more

Grad Data Portal

Explore Grad Data Portal to learn more about gradSERU results, view data on applications, admissions, enrollment, demographics, time-to-degree, and completion rates, and find out where your program's Ph.D. alumni are working.

Supporting Students’ Well-Being

Red Folder

It can be challenging for faculty members to know how to respond to students who may be having a mental health issue or crisis. The Red Folder is a comprehensive guide designed to help you recognize indicators of student distress, how to respond to students in distress, and where you can refer your students for appropriate support.

Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education

The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education provides crisis intervention, advocacy, information, referral services, emotional support, presentations, and training regarding issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and harassment for students, faculty, and staff.

International Student and Scholar Services

The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) provides information about non-immigrant visa issues, counseling about academic, personal, and family matters, as well as issues of cross-cultural adjustments and professional integration once returning home, and training about cross-cultural and international issues across campus.

Student Conflict Resolution Center

The Student Conflict Resolution Center offers confidential and informal conflict resolution services to help students resolve university-based problems and concerns.

Care Team
  • The Care Team provides coordinated care, support, and resources to students and works to foster student development and wellbeing.
  • It also oversees the Behavioral Consultation Team (BCT) that provides a coordinated response to incidents arising from students who may represent a threat of harm to themselves or others.
Student Counseling Services

The Student Counseling Services offer counseling, classes, workshops, and presentations about mental health and life concerns, learning and academic skills, and career uncertainty.

Nutritious U Food Pantry

Introducing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into Your Work


Diversity Community of Practice (DCoP)

  • The Diversity Community of Practice (DCoP) is a grassroots community of faculty and staff from collegiate and administrative units that started on the Twin Cities Campus. The DCoP meets monthly via Zoom with the goal of helping to develop and leverage personal, professional, and technical expertise of community members, and creating innovative strategies to meet the equity and diversity goals at the University of Minnesota.

Explore DCoP

Diversity Training

Equity and Diversity Certificate

  • The Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) Certificate program helps participants develop tools necessary for advancing equity and diversity in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. The program:
    • Offers participants a theoretical framework for understanding equity and diversity work.
    • Helps participants develop necessary skills for equity and diversity work.
    • Gives participants direct experience working and communicating across differences.

Explore the OED Certificate program

UMN Racial Justice Resources

UMN Racial Justice Resources

Explore the UMN Racial Justice Resources page

Disability Resource Center

Enhancing Your Advising and Mentoring

Mentoring Best Practices

Mentoring Best Practices

Advising Best Practices

Advising Statements

Explore advising statements from current UMN faculty

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

  • Graduate students are encouraged to create an IDP, that serves as a skills assessment and career planning tool throughout their graduate education. 
  • As faculty, you should familiarize yourself with the IDP, so you are able to collaborate with your students. 

Explore IDP templates and examples 

International Graduate Students

Enhancing Your Pedagogy

Center for Educational Innovation

The Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) advances the University of Minnesota’s teaching and learning mission by providing research-informed, transformative, and inclusive leadership in teaching and learning across the University of Minnesota system. CEI offers excellent resources on designing effective learning experiences, creating inclusive learning environments, assessing student learning, and improving teaching. 

Chat GPT
Supporting Multilingual Students
  • The Minnesota English Language Program (MELP) offers support to a diverse group of international and domestic students who use English in addition to other languages. 
  • MELP provides professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to develop skills, knowledge, and dispositions for working with multilingual students, as well as services that serve multilingual students and scholars.


  • Are there additional topics you'd like to see covered? Please fill out a brief feedback form to let us know.
  • Questions or concerns? Contact Char Voight, Director, Faculty Initiatives.