The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies is excited to announce the results of the 2019 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience (GSE Award).

Our panel of judges have ruminated over the numerous applications of exceptional quality submitted this year, and have selected the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alberta as the winner.

Specifically, CAGS wishes to recognize the trailblazing work of the University of Alberta’s Professional Development (PD) degree requirement. Established in 2016 in response to the uncertain, competitive, and constantly changing job market, UAlberta’s PD degree requirement has sought to prepare each and every one of their 8,000 graduate students with the skills, training, and experience they will need to succeed after graduation.

The University of Alberta’s innovative PD degree requirement was the first of its kind in Canada, and today it remains an essential factor in enhancing the graduate student experience. Over the course of their degree and in consultation with their supervisor and other advisors, students complete a rigorous Individual Development Plan (IDP) that steers them toward careers best suited to their talents. In the second component of the degree requirement students complete eight hours of PD activities, many of which are paid internships. The benefits of this initiative are significant and numerous: a stronger relationship between students and mentors; a more consistent graduate student experience across the institution; and stronger, more resilient future leaders.

The GSE Award is presented annually by CAGS to a member institution. Its purpose is to encourage, recognize, and reward administrative or programmatic excellence and innovation in enhancing the experience of graduate students from recruitment through degree completion. The winners of this year’s GSE Award are invited to showcase the program in a workshop at the CAGS Annual Conference, which will be held in Halifax in November. We hope that the University of Alberta’s PD degree requirement will offer a model for other faculties of graduate studies across Canada.