First Impressions Matter
The quality of a graduate program depends, in part, on having a group of intellectually talented, highly motivated, and well-prepared students from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of outreach and recruitment is to make the quality of UC Davis’ programs and faculty known to a greater and more diverse number of qualified potential graduate students — to increase the number and diversity of applications in order to ensure that top ranked applicants select UC Davis for their graduate studies.
Best Practices in Graduate Student Recruitment
Research and Benchmarking
Graduate Studies encourages graduate program faculty and staff to become familiar with documented best practices in graduate student recruitment. The following research reports address recruitment best practices, both broadly and specifically to prospective graduate student audiences.
- Noel-Levitz and NAGAP - Marketing and Student Recruitment Practices for Master's-Level Graduate Programs
The National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP) and Noel-Levitz conducted a national, Web-based poll to determine and report the most effective practices. Included in the findings are some benchmark admissions data from a limited number of respondents.
- Hanover Research - Best Practices in Graduate Student Recruitment
In this report, Hanover Research examines best practices in graduate student recruitment. In addition, this report profiles marketing and recruiting practices at a number of large public universities.
- Ruffalo Noel Levitz - 2017 Marketing and Student Recruitment Report of Effective Practices
Though this new report is focused on undergraduate recruitment, it can help program faculty and staff identify the up-and-coming trends in higher education recruitment and admissions.
Tips from Graduate Studies
- Develop strategies for the full admissions funnel.
- Don't wait until prospective students apply to begin recruiting! Invest in efforts to attract inquiries and grow and shape the applicant pool. Consider traditional strategies such as tabling at grad school fairs, feeder institution visits, and GRE/GMAT name buys. Most importantly, pay special attention to your website and it's content.
Focus your efforts on strategies that will help move prospective students through the admission funnel - from inquiry to applicant, applicant to admit, admit to SIR and so on. Use the graduate program data reports developed by Graduate Studies to gain a firm understanding of your program's unique recruitment strengths and opportunities for improvement.
- Address graduate students’ priorities on your website and in print materials.
- Prospective graduate students consistently indicate three key priorities—the quality of the program, the cost/affordability, and the pathway or career available. Be sure to highlight your faculty's research expertise as well as student career successes on your website. Don't just list it out - update your website consistently with stories and profiles of your faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars, and alumni and contact the Graduate Studies Marketing and Communications team to promote it broadly.
- Invest time and effort in strategies that work.
- While it's tempting to invest your limited recruitment funds in glossy print publications, social media advertising, or conference travel, pay close attention to the practices that work. There are clear “best practices”—from campus visits for prospective students to web pages for international candidates to phone calls placed to admitted students—that contribute to enrollment success. Carefully track the source of your applicants and invest in the strategies that enable you to reach and recruit students that enroll.
- Be up front with information about funding and financial support.
- These days, prospective graduate students are often wary about making an investment in their graduate education. Be clear about the costs and funding opportunities associated with your program, and connect them to financial support information early and often.
- Use technology to build relationships and improve the prospective student experience.
- Digital communication platforms (such as the website, social media channels, and email systems) should be used to start a conversation rather than broadcast one-way messaging. Make sure that your website makes it easy for prospective students to find information, contact graduate program coordinators, and apply on the Graduate Studies website.
Graduate program staff are encouraged to monitor the status of applications using the GARD system and follow up on applications that remain out for review, as well as notify applicants with missing materials in their application and encourage them to check their application status online.
Partner with Graduate Studies
Digital Communications - Web and Email
Research has shown that a graduate program's website is its most valuable recruitment tool. The Graduate Studies Admissions and Academic Services and Marketing and Communications teams are currently working with campus partners on a variety of projects aimed at helping graduate programs more effectively communicate with prospective graduate students through their websites, email systems and social media. For more information about these efforts, contact the Graduate Studies Marketing and Communications team.
Brochures and Print Publications
Graduate Studies develops and maintains a series of general recruitment publications that are made available to programs and campus partners in both digital and print formats. Visit our Brochures and Print Publications page to download our print pieces or request that physical copies be sent via intercampus mail by contacting the Graduate Studies Marketing and Communications team.
Graduate School Fairs, Conferences and Consortia
As part of a centralized outreach and recruiting effort, Graduate Studies sends representatives to numerous information fairs at California State University campuses, as well as sister UC campuses. Additionally, Graduate Studies frequently participates in a number of consortia and attends conferences that permit identification and recruitment of a diverse pool of students. Faculty members are welcome to accompany Graduate Studies staff to these events. For information about Graduate Studies' recruitment travel schedule, contact the Admissions and Academic Services team.
Graduate Studies Recruitment Consultation
Want to learn more about how your graduate program can improve upon your recruitment efforts? Graduate Studies has teams of experts in the areas of admissions and academic services, diversity, and marketing. Request a consultation by filling out the Graduate Studies Marketing Project Request Form.