Office of Graduate Student Professional Enhancement (GSPE)




Graduate Student Professional Enhancement (GSPE) assists students in identifying and developing transferable skills and broad perspectives that foster scholarly and professional growth, pedagogical and career success, and holistic wellbeing. As a centralized resource, we offer initiatives and programming guided by professionals in graduate education and enriched by a broad spectrum of campus resources.   


Advocacy & Partnerships

GSPE maintains a robust list of partners across campus with whom we offer a diverse array of resources and initiatives for graduate students intended to supplement their educational experiences. 

We provide professional development guidance tailored to assist students in achieving the four goals of a well-rounded graduate education: 

  • Fulfilling Profession: Developing the skills, knowledge, and experience for a fulfilling career. 
  • Impactful Research: Gaining the insights and experience necessary to make an impact in the field and beyond. 
  • Transformative Teaching: Sharpening and broadening career opportunities through transformative teaching practices. 
  • Holistic Wellness: Pursuing personal growth through a holistic balance of mental, physical, and financial wellness. 


Fulfilling Profession

While academic programs and departments prepare students well for specialized professions, students benefit from transferable skills development and from enhancing their abilities to identify, articulate, and illustrate those skills across a range of contexts and audiences. The abilities to pivot quickly, to lead teams, to build consensus, to navigate conflict—all can be practiced within degree coursework or internships, but many can be further reflected upon and sharpened from perspectives that are outside the academic program or department. GSPE seeks to augment discipline-specific education with a broader training and preparation to optimize your students’ career success.   


Impactful Research

While developing the skills of research and scholarship are solidly the domains of academic programs, students benefit from developing broader perspectives. One of the signature traits of graduate education that is both a plus and a minus is that students develop very narrow specializations. The specialized focus is essential, but it can also limit and restrict a student’s scholarly perspective. Accessing perspectives outside of one’s academic program can keep students mindful of the larger contexts and broader implications of their work. Students can also benefit significantly from opportunities to speak about their research and scholarship with non-specialist, novice, and public audiences and to learn about the research and methodologies of their peers in other disciplines. GSPE provides opportunities for your students to access these broader perspectives to contextualize their research and optimize its impacts.  


Transformative Teaching

Graduate teaching assistants are central to the educational mission of UK. As TAs, graduate students gain valuable experience teaching in higher education, while also cultivating professional skills along the way. GSPE supports and promotes transformative teaching practices through diverse offerings that include the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning, workshops, focused pedagogical development tracks, and opportunities to showcase the pedagogical innovations of graduate TAs. 


Holistic Wellness

Graduate school is stressful and demanding, and several recent studies have shed light on a growing mental health crisis within graduate education in the United States. This crisis is due in part to a lack of focus on personal wellness during graduate school. GSPE is attempting to change that by encouraging mental, physical, and financial wellness resources and activities as integral parts of an effective professional enhancement plan. 


Graduate Student Success Pathways

Pathways is an online navigational tool, like a compass, that helps students in any stage of graduate study optimize their educational experience by charting a personalized professional enhancement plan to guide them from wherever they are to exactly where they want to go. Pathways provides resources, opportunities, and actionable steps in each of the above-mentioned dimensions to supplement students’ education and diversify their experiences. 

We encourage you to promote this resource to your students and ask them to start charting their own paths as early in their graduate education as possible.