MAGS Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education

The MAGS Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education recognizes a MAGS member school for outstanding contributions to graduate education and is awarded at the annual meeting.


The 2024 MAGS Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education was awarded at the 80th MAGS annual meeting held April 3-5, 2024 at LeMeridien St. Louis Clayton hotel.

2024 Winner:
University of Wisconsin – Madison
“Bridge to the Chemistry Doctorate”
Started in 2019, the UW-Madison Bridge to the Chemistry Doctorate is a post-baccalaureate program aimed at increasing the number of students from under-represented minority groups who complete the Ph.D. degree in chemistry. The Bridge Program is a two-year (22-month) research master of science degree program that is specifically designed to provide students with a range of experiences and mentorship that will increase their chances of success in obtaining a Ph.D. in chemistry. The program is targeted at students with a B.S. degree in chemistry or allied field who are motivated to pursue a Ph.D. degree, but who need additional coursework, mentoring, and/or research experience to develop successful applications for Ph.D. study. To date, the Bridge to the Chemistry Doctorate has supported 17 fellows; 3 are currently in the master’s stage, and of those who have moved beyond, 12 have transitioned into the Chemistry Ph.D. program at UW-Madison. One student successfully finished the Bridge program, was offered the option to stay and pursue a Ph.D. yet decided to go into industry to support their family at this time. One fellow was accepted to a Ph.D. program at another school.

2024 Honorable Mention:
Iowa State University
“Academic Communication Practices (AcComP) Track—Pathway to Success Through Support from Admission to Degree Completion”


The 2023 MAGS Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education was awarded at the 79th Annual MAGS meeting in Chicago, IL, on March 29, 2023.

2023 Winner:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Emily Wuchner, Associate Director for Student Experience, Graduate College
“GradMAP: Graduate Student Orientation, Reimagined”
The UIUC Graduate College reimagined the very idea of orientation to develop GradMAP: an innovative program comprised of a suite of resources that provide new graduate students with a comprehensive first-year experience. Further, the tools and resources of GradMAP support departments as well as their students.

2023 Honorable Mention:
South Dakota State University
Nicole Lounsbery, Director, Graduate School
“Expanding the Circle: Increasing Access to Graduate Education for Tribal Colleges and Communities (TCUs)”


The 2022 MAGS Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education was awarded at the 78th Annual MAGS meeting in Milwaukee, WI, on April 7, 2022.

2022 Winner:
Marquette University
Maggie Nettesheim Hoffmann
“Marquette University’s Graduate Futures Initiative: The Next Generation of Career Diversity”

Marquette University’s Graduate Futures Initiative (GFI) offers graduate students values driven career formation programming and extends traditional career diversity efforts to provide students with access to interdisciplinary, partnership-informed, mission-driven support that makes career readiness an organic part of graduate education. Inspired by national career diversity endeavors including those led by the Council of Graduate Schools’ PhD Career Pathways program, the American Historical Association’s Career Diversity for Historians Initiative, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Next Generation PhD grants, and others, Marquette’s Graduate School launched the GFI in 2018 to meet the needs of doctorial students, as well as those of master’s and professional students. To this end, the objectives of the GFI initiative at Marquette include: (1) promoting career readiness as a core value in graduate education; (2) developing curriculum for graduate career development in the Ignatian tradition; (3) implementing and growing internship opportunities for graduate students; (4) integrating career development programming into graduate training; (5) collaborating with university and Milwaukee community partners.

2022 Honorable Mention:
University of Iowa
Heidi Arbisi-Kelm
“An Unexpected Outcome: The Promise of the Remote Thesis Defense”


Pther Past MAGS Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education Award Recipients
2016 – University of Kansas
Hall Center for the Humanities
“Applied Humanities”
This innovative program was selected because of its development of opportunities for graduate students in the humanities to explore career pathways outside of the traditional tenure track academic positions. This program includes a bootcamp, a series of panel discussions, networking opportunities and internships for its students. In addition, student outcomes are tracked during and after their degree programs, along with strong evaluation and review processes.

2015 (sponsored by ETS) – University of Minnesota
Henning Schroeder, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
“Resilient Communities Project (RCP)”
The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a cross-disciplinary program that supports one-year partnerships between a selected community and the University of Minnesota. It offers an innovative collaborative model of community-university engagement, focused on building a long-term relationship with one partner community each year. The program goes beyond simply providing community projects for graduate and professional students and advanced undergraduates; it promotes the development of knowledge and innovation around community sustainability. Students participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or through connecting an individual thesis, capstone, or independent study to a faculty-supervised RCP project. The program trains future practitioners, builds capacity among faculty to advance applied sustainability learning and engagement, and develops practical sustainability projects that can serve as models for other communities. RCP offers capacity related to water, energy, social equity, planning, design, recreation, management, economics, evaluations, and other topics that can complement local staff expertise as cities work toward becoming more sustainable and resilient communities. In its first two years, RCP partnered with two communities on over 30 projects, with over 45 course matches in dozens of academic departments from 11 colleges on two University of Minnesota campuses, and has engaged over 400 students to work on these projects. The collaboration among community staff, faculty and students results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.