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Welcome to the Graduate School Inclusive Excellence Recruitment Toolkit.

Recruiting students can be a complicated, time-consuming, and even overwhelming process that takes attention, organization, and preparation. Recruitment is just the first step in a holistic approach to bringing talent to our graduate programs and diversifying our graduate student body. 

Anytime is a great time to start laying the foundation needed to identify students for your academic program. Our hope is this toolkit will provide you with invaluable information about identifying, recruiting, enrolling, and ultimately mentoring underrepresented students.


Recruitment Continuum

This web page will assist programs and departments in recruiting racially and ethnically diverse students and disadvantaged and/or first-generation college students. Recruitment starts before you meet applicants; it begins when you develop an enrollment management plan that promotes inclusive excellence in your student body and among your faculty.

The first step is to look at the Inclusive Excellence Framework, and:

a) Assess the current composition of your student body, faculty, and staff. Assess your current practices in light of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Develop objectives and strategies to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion.

b) Assess the opportunities for your students, faculty, and staff to access professional development opportunities in diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. Create a culture that encourages and supports students, faculty, and staff to attend those events.

c) Assess your program/department engagement with COMO’s community leaders and population that empower and create access to an inclusive and diverse dialogue between the community and your program/department. Develop ways to engage with the community in a meaningful way.

As you create the foundation for diversity and inclusion, consider the five phases of the recruitment continuum:

  1. Potential graduate students: undergraduate students, recently graduated students, individuals with master’s degrees or specialist degrees. They may be underrepresented in your field or first-generation college students and have the potential to be our graduate students. They have not interacted with you yet, but you would like to reach out to them. 
    1. Be prepared to convey: why pursue a graduate degree, what you can offer, who you are looking for, and potential career outcomes. 
    2. Suggested venues for recruitment are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU).
  2. Prospective graduate students: these are potential graduate students with whom you have made contact during recruitment engagements, faculty visits to other institutions, faculty, and staff interactions that led to a discussion about graduate education. They may be underrepresented in your field or are first-generation college students who are unsure of or started to explore graduate education. 
    1. Be prepared to convey: why pursue a graduate degree, how to apply for a graduate degree at Mizzou, what you are looking for in a student, and funding options.
    2. Identify some key people, show what you can offer – specifics on the program, data on inclusive excellence – and connect them with current graduate students.
  3. Applicant: these are prospective graduate students who expressed a solid interest in your graduate program and began applying. They may be underrepresented in your field or first-generation college students who may not have all the information needed to smoothly navigate the application process. 
    1. Be prepared to convey: information on how to use our application system, information about the city of Columbia pertinent to their interests, information about opportunities for family members to study, work, or live in Columbia, and information relevant to their family situation like childcare.
    2. Connect them with resources on campus – including graduate students and inclusive excellence initiatives, provide clear information on funding options, and be transparent about the admissions process.
  4. Admitted students: these are students who you admitted. they may be underrepresented in your field or first-generation college students who have successfully been admitted to your program but have not committed to coming. 
    1. Be prepared to provide them with information about campus resources – professional development, graduate student groups and governance, housing, etc.; consider identifying a peer-mentor for their first year in the program. 
    2. Connect them with information on job opportunities for family members and the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, and the Graduate School’s Center for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education.
  5. Enrolled graduate students: these are students who decide to enroll in your program. They may be underrepresented in your field or first-generation college students who have decided to come to Mizzou. They will face different challenges and struggles than other graduate students. Recruitment is connected with retention; therefore, you must:
    1. Be prepared to provide culturally appropriate mentoring, information about resources supporting well-being, self-efficacy, community-building, and inclusive scholarship. 

Inclusion-focused Recruitment Conferences

This section will provide information on inclusion-focused recruitment conferences. However, we would like to encourage you to consider that every interaction with an individual who has not yet earned an advanced degree is an opportunity for recruitment. Faculty should always bring prospective students information to any professional activity that puts them in contact with potential graduate students. 

The following list is of suggested conferences during the calendar year.

In addition to conferences, consider developing a relationship with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). We compiled a Recruitment at MSIs in and around Missouri.


Recruitment Databases

We have access to a few databases to help support recruitment. Those are the National Name Exchange, the McNair Scholars Directory, and The National GEM Consortium. For the first two, you can request access to a list of names that you can reach out and cultivate potential graduate students for your program. The last one, prospective graduate students select Mizzou as one of their choices, and you can cultivate that relationship.
Read more about the databases in the Inclusion & Recruitment Resources.


Resources for Recruitment and Retention

CIE has curated resources from other institutions that can be shared, best practices in graduate recruitment and retention.


Academic Strategic Toolkit (University of California – Berkeley)

Best Practices in Graduate Student Recruiting and Marketing (Hanover Research Report)

Best Practices for Program Websites (Rackham Graduate School – University of Michigan)

North Dakota State University Recruitment Toolkit (Includes a Program PowerPoint Presentation Template at the bottom of the page)

Pathways to Science Resource Library (Resources for students applying to graduate school and for faculty interested in diversifying their student body)

University of Washington Graduate School Toolkit (see examples of handouts for recruitment under Toolkit tab)

Directors of Graduate School can visit Canvas for more resources on recruitment. Not enrolled? Learn How.
Visit Canvas For More Information

Covid-19 and Recruitment and Retention

Based on a workshop delivered by the Equity in Graduate Education Research Hub (designed based on the CDC’s trauma-informed framework) we put together the following recommendations and considerations for programs:

  • Programs should collaborate with the graduate school to develop clear and consistent messaging that addresses how S/U grading in the spring 2020 semester, or disruptions in research opportunities/access will be handled in the admissions process. Recruitment personnel and admissions committees should have these discussions as soon as possible.
  • Programs should create consistent messaging that addresses how the program will handle GRE, GMAT, and English Language Assessments in the admissions process in cases where access is lacking. Recruitment personnel and admissions committees should be informed of the messaging when starting their fall recruitment season.
  • Provide virtual spaces or other communication approaches where prospective students can ask questions from faculty and current students.

  • Programs should develop a communication strategy process for checking in with incoming graduate students, specifically to inform them of COVID-19 related information and provide them access to resources on campus and in Columbia to help them moving to the city.
  • Programs should consider personal communication from advisors and PIs, with offer for individual follow-up via phone or zoom, especially for underrepresented and international students.
  • Programs should ensure that these general messages are also accessible on the web (transparency), and that there are messages to specific populations, such as international students.
  • Programs should vet important communications with multiple people from diverse backgrounds to ensure tone and content are appropriate.
  • Programs should provide virtual spaces or other communication approaches where students can ask questions from faculty and continuing students.

  • Programs should remind all faculty and staff interacting with international applicants or incoming students that the source of up-to-date information on visa issues/delays and travel-related restrictions is the International Center. The information changes quickly and requires their expertise.