Faculty members at the University of Memphis are actively involved in research and creative and service activities, providing models and mentors for their students to do the same. As the center for advanced study and research within the university, the Graduate School has three basic objectives: to preserve and disseminate knowledge; to extend knowledge through research; and to prepare men and women to assume responsible and useful roles in a changing society.  With these goals in mind, the Graduate School has policies to ensure that its graduate instruction and resources foster independent learning, enabling the graduate to contribute to a profession or field of study.
Opportunities for graduate students to contribute to their professional fields of study include research assistantships, internships, and co-authoring papers with major professors. Practica, projects, theses and dissertations, exhibits, and performances provide ample scope for graduate students to engage in the research processes and problem-solving activities that will extend the knowledge base in their fields of study. Although advisory committees provide guidance for these endeavors, students assume the major responsibility for producing the work and demonstrating their capacity for independent research, scholarship, and creative activity.
Some departments encourage students to write theses and dissertations in journal-ready style to facilitate publication. There is an annual student poster research forum; many departments also sponsor research seminars and related activities for graduate students to present research. The travel funds committee of the Student Government Association awards grants for students to present their research at professional meetings. To enhance teaching qualifications, the Graduate School offers a series of workshops, seminars, and training sessions conducted by graduate faculty leading to a Certificate in Graduate Teaching.
Each degree program provides appropriate instruction and opportunities for developing professional competence. In addition to coursework, these include theses and dissertations, projects, internships, and comprehensive examinations. At the master’s level, most academic units provide students both a thesis and a non-thesis option. Candidates who do not write a thesis are required to pass a final comprehensive examination. Certain programs allow a culminating experience in lieu of a comprehensive examination. 
The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law requires a scholarly paper as a writing requirement for all candidates for the Juris Doctor (J.D.).  This writing requirement can be met by producing a paper of publishable quality for the law review. All of the aforementioned experiences require that graduate students demonstrate knowledge of their selected fields, appropriate research methodology, and evidence of integrative thinking.
An acceptable dissertation is required for all doctoral degrees. The dissertation must represent a significant scholarly effort that culminates in an original contribution to the field of inquiry. It should reflect the candidate’s ability to conduct independent research and interpret in a logical manner the facts and phenomena revealed by the research. 
The university supports many centers of excellence and interdisciplinary research units such as the Center for Earthquake Research and Information, the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, the Robert Wang Center for International Business, and the Fed Ex Institute of Technology. These centers provide opportunities for students to work in research teams and contribute to new research developments in their fields. 
The University Council for Graduate Studies and Research made up of representatives from each college, oversees the continued quality of graduate programs throughout the university. The council regularly reviews curriculum, graduate faculty applications, exam protocols, and dissertation procedures to ensure that the goals of the Graduate School are being met.  The graduate faculty application process ensures that professors engaged in graduate instruction are actively involved in research themselves.