PROV 601: Thriving in Your Graduate Program

NOTE: The SP18 PROV601 workshop series and cohort has been cancelled due to low application numbers. Please see our online resources under the “For Graduate Students” tab.

PROV 601: “Thriving in Your Graduate Program: Fostering Graduate Student Success” is a seminar for beginning (1st- and 2nd-year) doctoral and Master’s degree students that is offered during the spring semesters.

PROV 601 has been designed for students to explore the opportunities and challenges of graduate school with an eye toward facilitating their success as graduate students at Mason and in their career. The seven seminar sessions encourage students to begin thinking about where they want to be after completing their degree program, and how to position themselves to get there by improving the visibility and impact of their research in scholarly and professional communities.

As one student from the original cohort in spring 2013 wrote, “The course was extremely useful in filling in gaps in my education on preparing for life after graduate school, particularly when entering into a highly competitive job market. This class has been invaluable and I believe it has given me an edge in pursuing my goals in the future.”

What are the learning objectives of this seminar?

  • To understand the important roles of teaching and scholarship in your graduate careers
  • To gain a familiarity with ideas and theories about student learning
  • To explore the scope and nature of scholarship in your discipline or field of study
  • To cultivate relationships with mentors and colleagues and build an effective dissertation or thesis committee
  • To develop a better understanding about the various career paths available for MFAs and PhDs, and—in particular—about the scholarly work required to be competitive in the academic job market
  • To demonstrate an awareness of current events and trends in higher education
  • To assess your field’s professional association and its resources for graduate students

The interdisciplinary nature of the seminar means that discussions focus on general trends in higher education. Seminar topics include the importance of building one’s teaching credentials alongside one’s scholarly reputation; learning to set short-, medium-, and long-term goals with clear timelines for achieving them; and the essential role of networking in career building.

Students who participated in our past seminars had this to say:

“I have developed a timeline of what I need to do now to make myself a competitive applicant for a faculty position.”

“I have started to advocate for teaching opportunities towards the end of the program. I also know exactly when I need to meet goals in order to graduate in a timely manner and I am preparing accordingly. I have used the recommendation of designated writing time to good effect as well, and have been busily developing additional networking skills and media.”

“I think all first year doctoral students should have to take this seminar.”

When is the seminar?

The seminar takes place every Spring semester. For Spring 2018, however, the seminar is on hiatus; please check back next fall for information about applying to a Spring 2019 seminar.

What will the seminar cost?

The Office of the Provost will pay for student tuition for this 1-credit course and the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly the Center for Teaching & Faculty Excellence) will provide the supporting course materials.

What are the requirements of the seminar?

  1. Actively participate in and attend all seven of the in person class sessions.
  2. Complete all assigned readings and activities between sessions.
  3. Create a portfolio that includes:
    • An introduction in which you reflect on the seminar and your goals for your graduate career (minimum of 3 pages)
    • A projected timeline for your graduate and professional development work
    • A written response to:
      1. Your interview with a Teaching Excellence Award winner or a Teacher of Distinction
      2. The results of your Teaching Goals Inventory
    • A draft Teaching Philosophy
    • A sample cover letter for a journal submission and an inventory of the top three journals in your field (for PhD students) or a sample proposal/letter of inquiry for exhibitions, performances, etc. with an inventory of possible outlets (for MFA students)—MFA students whose work requires auditions may substitute a detailed audition strategy for the letter of inquiry
    • An artifact showing evidence of networking

How do I apply?

Complete applications include the following:

  1. Submitted online application (have the following information ready).  Complete application form found HERE.
  • Your name
  • Your contact information (email and address)
  • Your G# and residency status (in-state or out-of-state)
  • Your doctoral or Master’s degree program name
  • The name and email of your advisor
  • A brief statement, signed by your advisor, indicating support for your participation in the seminar
  • A projected timeline for PhD or Master’s degree completion
  • A statement of why this seminar appeals to you, including an indication of your interest in both teaching and research, as well as a specific description of the ways in which you expect the seminar to benefit your academic career
  • Confirmation of your willingness and ability to fully participate in all aspects of the seminar
  1. Advisor email to the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning ( from their Mason email address indicating their support your participation in this seminar course.

What if I have additional questions?

If you have further questions about the seminar, please contact Laura Lukes, Assistant Director at the Stearns Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (formerly the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence;