Boston College has invested more than $3.5 million in academic strategic funds during the past five years to elevate doctoral student stipends, reflecting a commitment to graduate education and student formation outlined in the University’s 10-year Strategic Plan, “Ever to Excel.”
As a result, all funded doctoral students will receive an academic-year stipend of at least $30,000 in 2023-2024—an important milestone in the University’s investment in graduate education.
In addition, the BC student health plan now provides benefits to more than 1,750 graduate students, and the 2022 transition to a new health insurance carrier resulted in added benefits, including a lower out-of-pocket maximum and improved pediatric dental coverage. According to a recent assessment, there have been no coverage reductions or deductible increases since the health plan’s inception, and the platinum plan annual premium is significantly below that of Ivy League plus peers and the Massachusetts Health Connector prices for comparable coverage. Overall, the University contributed more than $2.4 million toward health insurance coverage for doctoral students during the 2022-2023 academic year.
Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley said these investments have paid dividends in helping the University to attract outstanding doctoral students, whose contributions are welcomed and appreciated in all of BC’s schools and colleges.
“The University is greatly enriched by the presence and contributions of our doctoral and graduate students,” said Quigley. “Our faculty and deans are committed to making their experience at Boston College as rewarding and productive as possible.”
To bolster support for funded doctoral students, the Institute for the Liberal Arts (ILA) and the Provost’s Office established a grant in 2019 for Innovation in Graduate Education, which enables faculty to apply for grants (up to $10,000 a year for a maximum of three years) for programming that improves graduate education at Boston College—particularly in the areas of innovation in pedagogy, improving personal and professional formation of graduate students, using technology to improve graduate education, and increasing diversity and inclusion. The grants have been awarded each spring since the program’s inception.
“Through these and other programs, we are working to help our graduate students to thrive in their time at Boston College. We continue to look for ways to enhance their experience as students, and we look forward to future investments in support of world-class doctoral training across our schools and colleges.”
In 2021, the ILA also established an internship program for Ph.D. students in the humanities and qualitative social sciences to provide opportunities to explore careers beyond tenured faculty positions. Through the program, graduate students have been placed in internships in BC Libraries, the McMullen Museum, and in Student Affairs, with additional opportunities forthcoming in the Academic Advising Center. Students receive a stipend to work in their placements for 35 hours per week in June and July, which includes attending weekly meetings for reflection and workshops on alternative careers.
The ILA also awards major grants (up to $25,000) and minor grants (up to $2,500) each year for projects that involve graduate students working as participants in seminars, colloquia, and workshops, or helping to arrange speakers to address groups of students.
In addition, the Center for Teaching Excellence provides robust programming for graduate students, including the Apprenticeship in College Teaching Program, which prepares graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for teaching careers in higher education.
Since the release of the Strategic Plan in 2018, graduate student enrollment across all eight of BC’s schools and colleges has increased by 13%, with the University attracting promising doctoral and graduate students from throughout the United States and the world.
During that time, the University has also expanded graduate programing through the combined efforts of the Office of the Provost, Student Affairs, and the Office of University Mission and Ministry. Popular grad outreach programs include the Graduate Leadership Program—an in-depth, six-session development workshop series designed to help grad students gain deeper self-awareness as leaders; the Grad Student Voices Conference, which invites graduate students of all levels to share their historical research projects in an effort to highlight innovative research; and the Doctoral Writing Group, which convenes doctoral students in focused group writing sessions facilitated by the Office of Graduate Student Life to assist them with their research and writing goals. The GSL also hosts an annual overnight retreat for first year graduate students that promotes reflection and conversation.
Graduate student programs sponsored by BC Campus Ministry include the Manresa Silent Retreat at the Connors Retreat Center in Dover, Pause and Pray sessions on the Newton Campus, and the Study by the Sea Retreat, offered during spring Break at Bellarmine House in Cohasset.
“Through these and other programs, we are working to help our graduate students to thrive in their time at Boston College,” said Quigley. “We continue to look for ways to enhance their experience as students, and we look forward to future investments in support of world-class doctoral training across our schools and colleges.”
Jack Dunn | University Communications | March 2023