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GRADx Frequently Asked Questions

Use the links to see frequently asked questions about the Graduate School Exploration Program (GRADx).

Q. How do I apply for GRADx?

The GRADx Application Guide has detailed information about the program.

Contact your campus point person(s) for information about GRADx specific to your college and to submit an application.

To apply for GRADx, you must submit the following information and materials to your campus coordinator (see chart). Application due dates will vary by college, so make sure to check with your campus point person for information specific to your institution.

  • Personal information
  • Academic information and/or transcript
  • Answers to the following questions (please limit each answer to 250 words or less):

1.  What academic disciplines or sub-disciplines interest you? If you had the opportunity to design your own college class or course, what types of content would you want to include? What would be on your syllabus?

2. Why are you interested in learning more about graduate programs? What kinds of questions do you have about applying to and attending graduate school?

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Q. Who is my campus contact?

The contact and campus-specific dealines for GRADx applications are as follows:

ACM Institution:

GRADx Contact(s)

Beloit College

Atiera Coleman

Carleton College

Marynel Ryan Van Zee

Coe College

Katie Rodgers

Colorado College

Lisa Schwartz

Cornell College

Erin Davis and Laura Farmer

Grinnell College

Albert Lacson

Knox College

Sara Kitsch

Lake Forest College

Ashley Sinclair

Lawrence University


Luther College

Elizabeth Steding

Macalester College

Arthur Mitchell and Matt Katsaros

Monmouth College

Kasia Bartoszynska

Ripon College

Andrea Young

St. Olaf College

Melissa Melgar

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Q. What are the eligibility requirements for GRADx?

All qualified first-year, sophomore, or junior students from historically underrepresented groups in higher education are encouraged to apply for the Graduate School Exploration Program (GRADx). This includes students of Alaskan Native; African American; Asian, Latinx; Native American; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander descent; DACA students; international students; first-generation college students; and individuals who have followed non-traditional pathways to college due to exceptional talent and motivation in the face of adversity, such as societal, economic, or disadvantages.

Additionally, students must meet the following criteria for eligibility: 

  • Have a first-year, sophomore, or junior standing at an ACM college
  • Express an interest in pursuing graduate work in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and/or the arts 
  • First-year students must have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale at their secondary institution.
  • Students with sophomore or junior standing must demonstrate academic achievement with a cumulative college course work GPA of 2.65 or higher on a 4.0 scale.*
  • Students who are selected for this opportunity may not participate in an off campus study program that would cause them to miss the fall or spring GRADx forums.

* Students who have a GPA that is near, but not at, this minimum GPA s

hould contact their campus coordinator to discuss their candidacy.

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Q. Is there a list of eligible humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts majors/departments? 

The GRADx program is designed for students interested in pursuing study and research in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts, including:

Anthropology and archaeology


Library and archival studies

Art and art history


Linguistics and comparative language studies

Classics, classical languages, and literatures


Performance studies

Communications, journalism, film, and media studies


Philosophy, ethics, and logic



Political science, government, and public policy analysis




English language, literature, and creative writing


Religion and theology

Foreign languages and literatures





Other: Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more approved fields at their core.

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Q. How is GRADx different from the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship (GSEF)?

The Graduate School Exploration Fellowship (GSEF) program is open to undergraduates with sophomore standing who have expressed a strong interest in going to graduate school and pursuing a career in academia. Selected students participate in webinars and meetings at their home institution during their junior and senior year. The central experience in GSEF is an intensive 8 to 10-week summer research experience on a Big Ten Academic Alliance institution campus, which occurs during the summer between the junior and senior year.

GRADx is designed for a broader group of students, which can include first-year, sophomore, or junior students. This program is for students who want to learn more about graduate school and career options in academia. GRADx requires attendance at two forums hosted on campuses of Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions, one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. As a result, the time commitment required to participate in GRADx is only a few days in total.

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Q. Can I apply to and participate in both GRADx and GSEF?

Yes! If you are a first-year student interested in pursuing a graduate degree, we encourage you to apply for the GRADx program. If your participation in that program confirms your interest, you can then also apply during your sophomore year to be a GSEF fellow. (Please note that the application requirements and materials are different, and you will need to submit a personal and academic statement for GSEF, along with letters of recommendation.)

If you applied to GSEF as a sophomore and did not get accepted to the program, or you chose not to apply for other reasons, you are still welcome to apply for GRADx as a junior.

If you are already a participant in GSEF, you are not eligible to also participate in GRADx.

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Q. What universities and graduate schools are participating in the program?

Supported by an $8.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program for a Diverse Professoriate is a collaboration between the 14 liberal arts colleges in the ACM and 14 research universities at the Big Ten Academic Alliance:

  • University of Illinois
  • Indiana University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Q. Who do I contact with additional questions?

You should contact your campus point person with additional questions about your college's internal deadlines, application requirements, information about how to access your funds, and more. 

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