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 Graduate Level Skill Competency

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The information below describes certain knowledge and skills, competencies, which graduate students should develop during their graduate career.  Some competencies overlap in more than one category. Depending on your field and your chosen career path, certain competencies may be of more importance than others.

Competency Elements Description
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal understanding
  • Mentoring relationships
  • Collaboration and team-building
  • Networking
  • Ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, for various audiences.
  • Ability to empathize, listen, and be sensitive to others.
  • Ability to effectively respond to advice and criticism, as well as be able to guide and provide constructive criticism.
  • Ability to contribute to groups, avoid and/or resolve conflicts, motivate others, and foster a collaborative environment.
  • Ability to build relationships with others, establish rapport.
Academic Development (Scholarship, Teaching & Mentorship)
  • ​Conceptualize research/scholarship
  • Teaching
  • Initiative
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • ​Ability to define a research question and strategically plan an approach
  • Ability to plan a course, implement activities, and assess student learning.
  • Ability to be pro-active, self-motivated, persistent and decisive.
  • Ability to generate and test theories and seek solutions to problems
Leadership & Professionalism
  • ​Professional ethics
  • Goal and milestone planning
  • Leadership of diverse teams
  • Problem solving strategies and solutions
  • Evaluation and feedback
  • ​Ability to behave in a manner consistent with the ethical standards of a given field.
  • Ability to strategically plan and set goals and milestones.
  • Ability to lead a group, create a vision, build a sense of purpose, and motivate a group regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.
  • Ability to define a problem and devise solutions with sensitivity to the context.
  • Ability to provide constructive criticism.
Career Development
  • ​Personal and professional organization/planning
  • Professional flexibility
  • Professional competitiveness

  • Ability to set goals for your personal and professional life and envision how to achieve those goals.
  • Ability to develop skills that are useful in multiple work environments.
  • Ability to develop materials and utilize resources that will make you competitive on the job market.

Actions ​Early Stage ​Mid-Stage ​Late Stage
  • Initiate mentoring relationships
  • Learn conventions of communication within your discipline
  • Formulate and present research plan

  • Develop presentation skills for discipline and non-discipline specific audiences
  • Write for both technical and non-technical audiences
  • Communicate with mentors effectively
  • Present research at national conferences
  • Publish research/scholarship
  • Present research at national conferences
  • Publish research/scholarship
  • Maintain professional networks

Academic Development (Scholarship, Teaching & Mentorship
  • Connect coursework to research & scholarship
  • Seek funding to support projects
  • Explore resources to support academic development
  • Attend TA orientation & teaching workshops
  • Plan research projects
  • Seek out teaching opportunities
  • Mentor undergraduates
  • Develop collaborative relationships to support research projects
  • Attend teaching workshops
  • Assess and modify research plans
  • Develop a teaching portfolio
  • Serve as manuscript reviewer for journals in your field
  • Mentor undergraduates

  • Form dissertation writing groups
  • Synthesize teaching statement/portfolio
  • Finalize projects and submit approvals
  • Formulate 5-year research plan

​Leadership & Professionalism
  • Attend Ethics trainings and seminars
  • Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP)
  • Seek leadership and service opportunities
  • Join professional organizations and build internal and external networks
  • Take on leadership positions
  • Contribute to team-based projects
  • Troubleshoot issues and propose creative solutions
  • Manage project budget and personnel
  • Provide feedback to peers on presentations, manuscripts, & grants

    • Serve as a role model for junior graduate students
    • Maintain professional networks
    • Plan for transition after graduate studies

    Career Development
    • Explore University Career Services resources
    • Complete self-assessments
    • Develop career goals
    • Create a CV
    • Identify external opportunities, internships, work experiences aligned with career goals
    • Document research and teaching accomplishments (IDP) 
    • Modify career goals if needed
    • Document research and teaching accomplishments on CV
    • Finalize CV, cover letters, research and teaching statements
    • Apply for positions aligned with your career goals
    • Learn how to interview and negotiate job offers