Graduate School Ambassadors holding cupcakes and balloons celebrating the centennial

UA Graduate School Celebrates 100 Years

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama Graduate School is celebrating 100 years of transformational advanced education opportunities at the Capstone. 

Although the Graduate School and Graduate Council were established in 1924, the University offered graduate degrees since its inception in 1831. UA awarded its first master’s degree, a Master of Arts, in 1835, only three years after awarding the first bachelor’s degree.  

“Graduate education has always been inseparable from the University’s mission of teaching, research and service,” said Dr. Susan Carvalho, dean of the UA Graduate School. “But after World War I, UA experienced a surge of growth in student population, buildings, and graduate education, resulting in the establishment of the Graduate School in 1924.”

Graduate enrollments have continued to grow in recent years, alongside the growth in research and UA’s relatively new Research-1 status.

“When President Bell came to UA in 2015, he charged the campus to grow both the research and graduate missions of the University, hand-in-hand,” said Carvalho. “Research growth has allowed for the creation of more funded positions for campus-based graduate students. Concurrently, the improvements in the Office of Teaching Innovation and Digital Education have fostered a lot of growth in online graduate programs. 

“So together we are achieving those ambitious goals, with graduate and professional students now comprising 15% of the student population. We have a goal of getting to at least 20% as the research mission continues to expand.”

The Graduate School currently encompasses more than 150 masters, doctoral, specialist and certificate programs. The comprehensive program of graduate study embraces the humanities, sciences, education and multiple professional areas.

“Graduate education can be defined as the ‘discovery of new knowledge,’” Carvalho said. “In that sense, graduate students are the partners of our faculty, and faculty are training tomorrow’s leaders of industry, business and research.”

Carvalho says that while this anniversary is a time of reflection, it’s also special to see the bridge from the past to the present and beyond. 

“In honor of the centennial, it’s been enlightening to go back and read historical documents. One of the requirements for a master’s degree in 1839 was to ‘exhibit evidence of being qualified to add something to the general weal, the sum of human happiness,’” Carvalho said. “I think that’s a great aspiration for all of us – faculty, staff and students.” 

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325