The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) continued to improve its programming and support services this past year, from enhanced master’s programs that respond to the world’s evolving needs to an office restructure that offers more support to our graduate students. Our dedication to innovation in all aspects of GRS has resulted in increased competition for admission.

Master’s Programs

Interest in GRS master’s programs continued to grow in AY 2015/16. The number of master’s applications increased once again—by 5.6%—and the class that matriculated in Fall 2015 was the largest class of master’s students (278) to join GRS yet. This class included the first regular group of students entering the new MS in Statistical Practice, an innovative degree program designed for students who seek a fundamental understanding of statistics and how statistical practices are applied in fields ranging from education to law to medicine. It also included the largest-ever class into the MS in Computer Science. Both of these programs recruited a larger number of students for Fall 2016. (See Appendix, GRS-Registered MA/MFA/MS Students)

In a continued effort to modernize and build our master’s programs, we updated and streamlined the curricula of the MA in Energy & Environment and the MA in Remote Sensing & Geospatial Sciences, both offered through the Department of Earth & Environment. Going forward, we will intensify recruitment into these programs. To further build our graduate programs, in Fall 2015 GRS representatives attended several graduate recruitment fairs, which led to a larger number of applications for Fall 2016 entry. We expect these activities to yield even more interest in our programs in the future.

PhD Programs

The quality of our entering class of PhD students also continues to improve. The promise of five years of fellowship support to all entering PhD students has had a significant impact on recruitment. A class of 189 new PhD students joined GRS in Fall 2015 and we expect a slightly larger class (203) to join us in Fall 2016. Acceptance into our PhD programs is extremely selective, with only 11% of applicants offered admission. In the humanities and social sciences, over half of those offered admission choose to accept that offer. (See Appendix, GRS-Registered MA/MFA/MS Students)

Supporting Students

A change in GRS office structure and instituting more efficient administrative procedures have allowed us to devote more staff time to supporting our Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and Graduate Women in Science & Engineering, and to developing graduate student services and support programs. This year, GSO held its first Three Minute Thesis competition. Almost 30 graduate students competed to present the clearest explanation of their doctoral dissertation via a presentation that had to be shorter than three minutes and use only one slide. The competition was a great success, with several engaging and amusing talks giving the judges a tough choice. GSO hopes to encourage more participation in the competition next year. In order to promote greater cross-program student interaction, the graduate school held special luncheons for students holding Martin Luther King Fellowships and National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

As these new and improved graduate programs and student services continue to grow and attract stronger students, we will see BU become a more competitive and prominent research and learning institution.

Graduate Student Success

Here are just a few highlights of the successes our graduate students in our diverse programs had this past year:

Graduate students and faculty from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies took a spring break trip to Washington, DC, to visit think tanks, NGOs, and government departments, as well as meet with high-level policy makers and practitioners of international affairs. The goal of the visit was to enable Pardee School students to get a better sense of career and practice options available to those pursuing higher education in global affairs, one of GRS’s many efforts to connect graduate learning with career directions. Read more

Anthropology graduate student Martha Lagace was selected as the 2015 recipient of the BU Moorman-Simon Civic Fellowship. The award assists outstanding PhD students whose research and scholarship involves vigorous engagement with civic life. Lagace’s research focuses on the daily negotiation of rights, responsibilities, and risks in northern Uganda’s Gulu region.

Two MFA in Playwriting candidates, Leo McGann and Samantha Noble, were honored at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. McGann’s thesis play, In the Moment, won the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award at the National Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and he traveled to Washington, DC, to attend the national conference. Noble was invited to take part in the prestigious MFA Playwrights’ Workshop at the Kennedy Center in July. Although BU’s MFA in Playwriting program is fairly young, its candidates regularly receive awards and recognition for their work. Read more

Jeff Nicklas, a medical anthropology MS candidate, led a talk about human trafficking and US health care hosted by the Initiative on Forced Migration and Human Trafficking in March. Nicklas’s research shows that the time that health care providers are spending with human trafficking survivors is often not adequate to address the health issues they are dealing with, and he shared his plan regarding health care access to these survivors. Read more

Physics graduate student Clint Richardson received a 2015 CMS Achievement Award from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN. The award cited Richardson’s “outstanding High Level Trigger work on CPU performance and online operations.” He was one of six graduate students to be recognized from over 1,000 CMS graduate students.

Annual Report 2015/2016

  • From the Dean The Difference a Year Makes
    From enhancing research excellence to recruiting ever-better faculty and students, academic year 2015/16—the first under Dean Ann Cudd’s leadership—saw CAS continue to grow its capacities.
  • Improving Undergraduate Education Improving Undergraduate Education
    Providing a world-class undergraduate education is the core of what we do at CAS. In 2015/16, we made curricular improvements, launched new career preparation programs, and welcomed a tremendous class of 2019 that will benefit from our ongoing efforts.
  • Strengthening Graduate Education Strengthening Graduate Education
    The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ continued evolution in and out of the classroom has resulted in a 5.6% increase in master’s applications in 2015/16, as well as an affirmation of the strength of its humanities and social science PhD programs, with more than half of students accepting their offers.
  • Enhancing a World-Class Faculty Enhancing a World-Class Faculty
    The quality of a university depends on the quality of its faculty, and hiring the best and giving them a strong start is crucial. In 2014/15, CAS hired 26 new professors across the humanities and social, natural, and computational sciences.
  • Conducting Pathbreaking Research Conducting Pathbreaking Research
    Discoveries and innovations at CAS helped make BU one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 35 research universities in the world. Faculty received nearly $61 million in funding this past year, advancing understanding in the fields of subatomic physics, Alzheimer’s disease, and classical studies, to name a few.
  • Growing Our Capacity and Stewarding Our Resources Building Our Future Together
    In 2015/16, the sixth year of the Campaign for Boston University, we achieved our initial goal of raising $100 million for CAS—and we reached that goal a year early. More than 26,000 alumni, friends, and parents have generously made gifts of $106,636,751 to the college via the ongoing campaign.
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