strategic plan goal 3 Outcomes focused academics

Deliver a rigorous, practical, well-rounded and supportive academic experience through innovative programs and teaching methods that focus on student success and prepare our students for the workforce and graduate education.

The ultimate payoff of higher education is measured by student outcomes; that is, what happens when a student graduates? Parents ask the question. Prospective and current students ask the question. Society asks the question. Thus, our approach to student success starts with us asking the same question. And student success is at the center of everything we do at the University of Memphis. Our objective is to produce graduates that are successful in their careers and in their lives. We launch our graduates with strong momentum so that they hit the ground running on their first day at work or at graduate school. However, successful outcomes and success do not end with the first job or a graduate degree. We strive to create lifelong learners who seek wisdom and love inquiry. This requires a broader and more enlightened perspective on education and working closely with employment partners to shape our academic programs.


Rigorous and Relevant Education.

The University of Memphis has a reputation for academic excellence. Our objective is to continually increase the quality of our education, measured through data-driven assessments of the learning and engagement that occurs while at the University of Memphis. Through innovative methods and high impact practices, we teach a rigorous, experiential and well-rounded curriculum that emphasizes both critical thinking and practical skills. We are applying a number of innovative pedagogies to elevate learning, such as flipped and interactive classrooms; active learning; and application-centric, experiential instruction. 


High Impact Practices.

Our objective is to expand and deepen our implementation of High Impact Practices, which are experiential, skill-based methods proven to enhance learning as well as postgraduation success. One of the highest impact practices is internships, which are central to our model of practical education. Internships have always been a strength for the University of Memphis. Internships are important to career placement, especially in one's field of study. In addition to internships, a greater emphasis is being placed on the following High Impact Practices:

  • Undergraduate Research
  • Study Abroad
  • Learning Communities
  • Capstone Courses and Projects.
  • Collaborative (semester-long) Assignments and Projects
  • ePortfolios
  • Service and Community-Based Learning


Outcomes/Workforce Focus.

Our objective is to prepare our students for the workforce, entrepreneurial ventures and graduate school. But perhaps even more importantly, we want to prepare them for lifelong professional and career success. First, students must graduate, and do so in a timely manner. While our four-year and six-year graduation rates have improved, we seek additional improvements in these key areas while simultaneously decreasing the time to graduation. With a keen focus on long-term and durable outcomes, we value the high upward social mobility provided by a college education and the outstanding degree premiums and paybacks of a college degree.


Optimized Degree Program Mix and Emphasis.

Through data-driven and evidence-based assessment, our objective is to dynamically adjust the number and mix of our programs to align with changing workforce and graduate program needs, and continuously improve the value of our degrees. We will continue to be a comprehensive University offering a broad range of degrees and a well-rounded education. However, increasing focus will be placed on program viability — using objective measures of program performance (e.g., credit hours produced, number of students, post-graduation outcomes) — to achieve a manageable number and mix of thriving degree programs. One aim is to increase the number of nationally recognized programs at the University of Memphis.


Flexible Attendance Options.

Our objective is to offer flexible attendance options that address the challenges associated with traditional attendance models without compromising educational quality. We deliver instruction when, where and how it best fits a student’s situation and learning style through a variety of delivery methods; including in-person, hybrid, online synchronous, online asynchronous and night/weekend classes. Regardless of the attendance option chosen by a student, the same proficiency standards are applied. We are sensitive to the needs of non-traditional students, such as adult learners, working professionals, degree completers and young working students.


Expanded Offering of Non-Degree Credentials.

Our objective is to vastly expand our non-degree programs, working closely with corporate partners and students to ensure our offerings align with their needs. We understand that our students are entering an ever-changing working world where they will more frequently change jobs and even careers. These transitions often necessitate additional training, which means higher education is becoming a continuum requiring universities to provide a full range of instructional options that meet students where they are in their careers and in their lives.


Teaching Soft & Life Skills.

At the University of Memphis, we are embedding into our academics the teaching of soft skills needed by employers as well as life skills needed to lead a full and enriching life. Our aim is to produce strong, mature and capable graduates eager and prepared to take on both career and life challenges. We understand that education is more than just providing students with discipline-specific knowledge and skills. In addition to embedding these skills into courses, we are investigating revamping and expanding courses in the core curriculum dedicated to instruction in soft and life skills (e.g., financial literacy, leadership).


Enhanced Graduate and Professional Education.

The University of Memphis is enhancing its graduate and professional education, particularly in STEM+H+B. We understand that graduate education is increasingly a threshold requirement for many jobs, particularly management and leadership positions, as well as being important to cross-generational social mobility. And we understand that strong graduate programs provide benefits that flow down to our undergraduate programs. To sustain our intensive research, we also need to increase our research capacity, especially our population of doctoral students. Enhancing our graduate programs means we must evaluate our compensation and benefits packages for graduate students. We are also committed to enhancing graduate and professional student success and support. As part of our larger strategy to work more closely with external partners, we are also seeking to become a preferred supplier of master’s degrees to companies and non-profits.


Educational Ecosystem.

Longer-term, we will explore options around creating a preschool-to-PhD ecosystem that better integrates regional educational institutions to create a more efficient and effective education for citizens of our region. This would involve leveraging and expanding our University Schools as well as developing close partnerships with nearby technical schools and two-year schools.

Goal 3 Historical Data Actual Targets  
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021 Fall 2022 Fall 2023 Fall 2023 Fall 2024 Fall 2025 Fall 2026 Fall 2027  
6-year Graduation Rate (%) 48.10% 53.20% 51.40% 54.30% 48.20% 49.30% 50% 52.50% 55% 62.50% 70%
Internship or Field Experience* 45% 42% 45% 47% 49% 51% 53%
GR STEM graduates (Doctoral) 35 31 53 31 61 38 50 53 56 60 65
GR STEM graduates (Masters) 163 157 146 188 216 449 250 300 380 470 580
UG STEM graduates 723 655 687 663 728 679 735 750 800 850 900
GR Healthcare graduates 323 318 309 354 360 370 368 370 420 470 520
UG Healthcare graduates 905 905 914 1,066 1,011 983 1,015 1,050 1,100 1,150 1,200
GR Business Graduates 270 285 293 301 389 576 400 420 440 460 490
UG Business Graduates 728 720 761 738 689 694 695 700 775 825 900
% of graduates from low socio-economic background 58% 57% 59% 58% 59% 57% 59% 58% 58% 57% 56%
Number of Masters Degrees Awarded 919 949 933 1,061 1,161 1,383 1,320 1,402 1,485 1,567 1,650
Number of Professional Degrees Awarded 106 88 88 108 121 99 120 122 125 127 130
Number of Doctoral Degrees Awarded 157 153 198 135 174 157 155 160 165 170 175
First Destination Outcome^
Pre-graduation placement ND ND ND ND ND 66% 67% 68% 69% 70%
Post-graduation (6 months) placement (%) ND ND ND ND ND 70% 75% 80% 85% 90%

* = Data drawn from NSSE Survey adminstered twice in a five-year cycle

N/D = No data available

^ = Data has not been historically tracked. A First Destination survey will be employed to track this metric.

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