Graduate programs awarded for innovation in admissions

April 2, 2021
Graduate School News

This article was previously published with UTSA Today.

As part of an ongoing effort to promote excellence within the graduate community at UTSA, The Graduate School is pleased to announce the recipients of its Innovation in Admissions Awards. The Master of Arts degree in School Psychology program is the winner of the Innovation in Master’s Admissions Award, and the Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art program is the winner of the Innovations in Doctoral and Terminal Master’s Program Admissions Award. Both programs will receive $5,000 as well as citations to be presented during Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GSAW).

The awards highlight innovative holistic admissions procedures to serve the prospective student community.

“Through these Innovation in Admissions Awards, we encourage programs to utilize inventive evidence-based criteria in making admissions decisions,” said Ambika Mathur, vice provost and dean of The Graduate School. “Developing innovative review processes will empower our programs to matriculate a wider, more diverse group of students.”

These awards are part of Promoting Excellence at UTSA, a recently announced series of annual awards granted to students, staff, faculty, and graduate programs at the university who exhibit exceptional performance in a wide variety of fields to highlight the array of talent in UTSA’s graduate community. The remaining awards will be announced during GSAW.

The Master of Arts degree in School Psychology program was recognized for faculty members who take pride in UTSA’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and are committed to strategic enrollment initiatives to target prospective Latinx students from San Antonio area universities. Program faculty adopted a broadened and multidimensional admissions rubric that allows for fair, objective decision-making that takes into consideration both the qualitative and traditional aspects of applications materials. Faculty also transitioned from an individual review process to a committee decision-making model, which ensures that all decisions rely on multiple perspectives while also taking into consideration individual faculty research and teaching needs.

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art program was recognized for a commitment to supporting Latinx and BIPOC students and encouraging a one-on-one outreach approach with applicants during various points of the admissions process. The MFA program is a terminal degree, and applicants are expected to have achieved a level of professional experience in creating and exhibiting a cohesive body of work, as opposed to individual unrelated pieces. Students are assigned to a faculty member in their desired area of emphasis, and once portfolios are reviewed and assessed for readiness to enter an MFA program, students are interviewed over the phone by the assigned faculty member. Once all applications are reviewed and vetted by faculty members using a rubric, faculty members meet as a group to discuss findings and vote on each applicant.

Honorable mentions were also awarded in both the master’s and doctoral and terminal master’s program categories; the Master of Science in Business (MSB) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Culture, Literacy, and Language (CLL). Each of the honorable mention recipients will receive $1,000.

“Graduate education is critical to the university’s strategic vision, and we are pleased to recognize innovative programs that deepen our abilities to recruit and retain accomplished and diverse graduate students,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “As a pre-eminent Hispanic-serving institution, UTSA has a special responsibility to increase participation and success of Latinx students in graduate programs — especially at the doctoral level — to increase the diversity of our nation’s faculty and enhance an inclusive workforce to better serve our students and communities.”

The Graduate School extends warm congratulations to all programs who participated in this inaugural call for nominations. The Promoting Excellence Awards are anticipated to continue as an annual celebration of our outstanding graduate community. Graduate programs are encouraged to continue innovation in the holistic admissions process and submit an award nomination for consideration next year.