Graduate students essential to University’s research and teaching

Dean Steve Matson talks about the Graduate School at Carolina in this Q&A

Dean Maston speaks at a podium
Steven Matson during the 2014 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Dan Sears/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The Graduate School at Carolina encompasses more than 80 academic programs offering more than 160 different graduate degrees. The 11,000 graduate students who make up 37% of the student body are essential to Carolina, providing the work-force behind a more than $1 billion research enterprise and teaching undergraduates with enthusiasm and creativity. In this Q&A, Dean Steven Matson talks about his vision for the Graduate School.


What is the mission of the Graduate School?

The Graduate School’s mission has always been to work with all the graduate programs across the University to envision graduate education and then to implement that vision in a collaborative fashion so that we are producing students who are leaders, who promote discovery and who are improving the quality of life.

Graduate students are vital to the outstanding education Carolina provides for undergraduate students and to our service efforts benefiting our state’s communities. The mission also includes preparing the next generation of college faculty. Just over 100 research universities, including Carolina, prepare more than 80% of America’s college faculty.

What is your vision for the Graduate School?

The Graduate School is focused on preparing the next generation of professionals for the opportunities ahead. For example, our doctoral alumni are just as likely to apply their knowledge in the private sector as within universities. The Graduate School offers professional development to all graduate students to complement the cutting-edge education they receive within their graduate programs. Workshops and courses designed to provide skills such as program management, leadership, financial accounting and communication are available to all graduate students.

What is your goal for faculty?

We have absolutely phenomenal faculty. Their ability to do research is just incredible and they require a first-rate group of graduate students for that. They need to continually recruit fabulous graduate students and provide them with the opportunity to do what graduate students do — discover new knowledge, then go out and create their own successful careers.

What is your goal for students?

Supporting a diverse, inclusive and global student body has never been more important than it is today. We must have a diverse group of minds and approaches tackling our most important problems.

Graduate students are often the genesis of many of the most innovative ideas that emanate from a research university such as Carolina. Many of the engineering marvels and technologies we enjoy today began as an idea from an enterprising graduate student working to answer a basic research question. Supporting our graduate students’ successful degree completion helps place their research skills and new ideas to work on behalf of North Carolina, the nation and the world.