Loyola University Chicago’s Graduate School has received an honorable mention from the Educational Tests and Services (ETS)/Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) for their proposal entitled, “Mastering the Humanities: Growing, Diversifying, and Sustaining the Humanities,” which is based on enhancing training and career preparation for humanities students in The Graduate School.

Although a lot of emphasis is put on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) masters and doctoral programs, the humanities programs have missed the bar all over the nation. The proposal submitted looked at the crisis in humanities education and tried to address the problem by introducing an additional set of criteria that will help masters and PhD students graduate with “transferable skills,” which will increase their likelihood of finding work in the competitive market of humanities.

“Transferable skills focus on critical thinking, management training, written and oral communication skills, professionalism, and work ethic,” says Samuel Attoh, PhD, dean of The Graduate School. “It is essentially saying that we acknowledge the problems our students are facing after graduation, and we are coming up with a way to professionalize and give students the necessary transferable skills that they can carry into the work place.”

In addition to improving student’s transferable skills, the school is interested in widening diversity among the students studying in the humanities.

“In any discipline it’s important to have a diversity of opinion and thought,” says Attoh. “It’s also encouraging to have other perspectives that promote intellectual diversity from a variety of perspectives. We try to bring in African American and Hispanic students which help to build pipelines with minority-serving institutes.”

How hard will it be to implement the new initiatives outlined in the proposal? Attoh believes that the only way it will be successful is if it gets the buy in and support from the faculty and program directors, and he is “… quite optimistic that we can launch this initiative.”

The Graduate School hopes the new “Mastering the Humanities” program will shorten the time to degree completion, increase the number of students that graduate within six years, and improve placement outcomes. Those are seen as the three critical performance indicators that will translate to success and improve the reputation of humanity graduate programs.

The Graduate School was excited to receive an honorable mention for their proposal and sees it as a positive affirmation for the work they are implementing.

“This award affirms and provides validation to what we are doing,” concludes Attoh. “Our goal was to come up with ‘best practices’ for the humanities program, and I am personally quite happy with the proposed procedures and administrative support, as it will raise our credibility and visibility among graduate schools across the country.”