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Chico State

Chico State’s Efforts to Advance Post-Graduate Education Recognized Nationally

The sun sets behind an academic building with grass and oak trees in the foreground and puffy clouds in the sky
Jason Halley / University Photographer

The last year has been a successful one for Chico State’s Office of Graduate Studies, receiving two multi-year, multi-million-dollar grants from the Department of Education, while also being recognized by a national educational organization.

The two grants come in the form of the Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) grant (five years, $3 million) and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (five years, $1.36 million).

Additionally, the University’s Graduate Equity Fellowship Program was recognized as a Finalist for 2023 Examples of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education, a foremost national association focusing on Latinx student success in higher education.

The Office of Graduate Studies is focused on providing resources to students that best help them overcome significant barriers to pursuing and achieving a graduate degree—including financial support, academic skills development, faculty-mentored research internships, connections to alumni from similar backgrounds and ample opportunities to explore the costs and benefits of a graduate degree.

Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies Sharon Barrios noted that much of the work of her team—building a strong pipeline to postbaccalaureate programs for Chico State students, particularly those from segments of society underrepresented in master’s and PhD programs—is largely driven by four factors.

“Firstly, research shows how much value is provided to those holding a graduate degree—easier entry into professional careers, higher wages, opportunities for advancement and job security,” she said. “Secondly, the requirement for a master’s degree is growing and will continue to grow across most job sectors, even in fields not traditionally requiring a higher degree and for entry-level jobs.”

Third, evidence shows there is still a considerable lack of diversity among those pursuing and holding graduate degrees.

“Fourth is the value graduate education holds to our University and our North State region,” Barrios said.

The PPOHA grant supports the Graduate Education Access and Opportunity Program (GREAT-Op), which is designed to increase the enrollment of Latinx and other underrepresented students in Chico State graduate programs while providing ongoing support to ensure their successful degree attainment and transition into professional opportunities or doctoral programs upon graduation.

The program provides students a Scholars Writing and Research Collaborative Fellowship with access to faculty-mentored summer research experiences at Chico State and select UCs, paid professional field internships, academic skills development workshops, and engagement with alumni and industry professionals through the Pathways to Careers Speaker Series. Funding for this grant begins October 1.

The McNair program is a federal TRIO program with the goal of increasing PhD degree awards for students underrepresented in graduate education. The program is designed to prepare students for graduate studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities; summer internships; seminars; tutoring, academic counseling; and assistance to prepare and apply for graduate program admissions. Funding for this grant also begins October 1. The University’s Graduate Equity Fellowship Program has been recognized as a finalist for 2023 Examples of Excelencia at the Graduate Level, along with four other schools, including three Texas institutions and Cal State Fullerton. Of this year’s 103 submissions from 19 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, Chico State’s program was honored for its leadership in effectively serving Latinx students to succeed in attaining their master’s degrees and transitioning to PhD degree programs. The winner in each category will be announced on September 28 in Washington DC.