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Core Competencies

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The graduate school has adopted six competencies for graduate student success. Each graduate student is expected to achieve proficiency in these competencies as part of their overall professional development. The graduate school actively provides resources, programs and mentoring faculty to help each student achieve these competencies. These competencies are:

Discipline-Specific Knowledge

Analytically define scientific questions, design scientifically testable hypotheses, express broad and cross-discipline knowledge, re-state detailed knowledge in a specific research area

Research Skills

Employ research techniques and laboratory safety, analyze and interpret data, search and critically evaluate literature, manage data

Communication Skills

Express research effectively to diverse audiences in diverse settings, generate scientific posters and publications, prepare grants, write cover letters, provide and receive effective performance reviews, manage conflicts and their resolution, teach effectively, provide sound mentorship, develop professional networks


Assess and uphold workplace etiquette and performance standards, comply with regulations, respect and enhance intellectual contributions of others, promote the discipline of study

Responsible Conduct of Research

Make appropriate ethical and legal choices, recognize and comply with funded grant regulations, identify resources to address ethical and legal questions

Leadership and Management Skills

Work effectively with individuals of diverse backgrounds, demonstrate conflict management, identify and organize priorities and goals, demonstrate leadership within groups, establish and maintain effective collaborations

View detailed description of each of the above competencies.

Individual student progress in professional growth in the graduate competencies is shaped by the student’s Individual Development Plan. In this plan, each student charts an individual course for career development in concert with his or her short- and long-term career goals. The graduate school provides training through its Career Enhancement and Development Program for students to achieve proficiency in the graduate competencies and advancement in their careers. Numerous activities and additional programs are organized within this encompassing structure. Nationally recognized speakers discuss with our students a variety of career topics such as networking, resumé development, interview skills, organization skills, etc.

Faculty and representatives from diverse academic, industry, government and non-profit organizations provide insights on career planning. Workshops that focus on grant writing, etc. are well attended. Two additional components of the Career Enhancement and Development Program target important areas in graduate student development. First, a Grant Incentive Program rewards students who engage in grant writing to advance their own research and gain proficiency in specific graduate competencies. Second, the Teaching Scholar Program provides additional mentored teaching opportunities for graduate students who want teaching to be a component of their future careers.