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Graduate School

About Us

Welcome from the Dean

Karen CoatsIt is an exciting time to pursue a graduate degree at Southern Miss! As one of only seventy-six public, doctoral universities earning the Carnegie Foundation ranking of “higher research activity,” USM continues to garner substantial, external funding from federal agencies, industry, and private foundations. Receiving nearly $74 million in sponsored funding in 2017, our talented faculty engage students in their original research and creative projects.

Students find their passion from among a broad array of doctoral, specialist, master’s, and certificate programs in all our academic colleges. A newly-reorganized academic structure intentionally positions faculty and resources within multidisciplinary schools to enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborative research and graduate programs.

Our diverse graduate student population of nearly 2700 students comprises about 18% of the total student population and includes many international students, working professionals, non-traditional and traditional students, and face-to-face and fully online students. Our campuses include the main campus in Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park Campus on the Gulf Coast in Long Beach, Mississippi, and two research campuses, Gulf Coast Research Laboratories (GCRL) in Ocean Springs and Stennis Space Center, near Picayune, which are home to unique programs in Coastal and Marine Sciences. We continue to add fully online, hybrid, and executive-format programs which meet the needs of working professionals.

At Southern Miss, we believe graduate education should be much more than knowledge gained in a specific discipline. We believe graduate education should enrich the student holistically by also providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. We support professional development programs aimed at strengthening transferable skills that cross disciplinary boundaries such as Three Minute Thesis, Professionals in Preparation, Graduate Competitive Travel Awards, and others. Our goal is to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and professional presence that will set them apart in today’s competitive job market. 

I am so glad you are considering graduate study at Southern Miss.  I hope you find your passion within our programs and pursue it eagerly. If you do, the Graduate School staff is ready to help you achieve your goals, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I am looking forward to shaking your hand as you receive your graduate diploma from Southern Miss in a just few years.

Karen S. Coats, Ph.D.

Vision and Mission

Operating within the values of a student-focused, doctoral-level, higher research activity university, the Graduate School at The University of Southern Mississippi will be a model for excellence and accomplishment in public graduate education.
The mission of The Graduate School of The University of Southern Mississippi is to foster a culture of excellence and integrity in graduate education, producing a diverse population of graduates whose competence, conduct, and professional presence set them apart in a competitive workforce and bring distinction to our institution. Our students will receive the highest-quality educational experience in their specific disciplines, along with opportunities for professional and personal development that will enrich their lives. 

Focus on recruitment and success of the best and brightest students by:

  1. Increasing visibility and perceived value of a graduate degree from Southern Miss by showcasing student and faculty accomplishments
  2. Developing strategies for proactive recruitment of local, regional, national, and international students
  3. Providing competitive financial support through assistantships and fellowships that attract high quality prospects
  4. Promoting student progress and success by fostering effective mentorship

Provide a holistic approach to graduate education through training in the discipline, along with opportunities for the development of transferable skills.  These include:

  1. Adopting policies and practices that promote accountability and an expectation of accomplishment
  2. Advancing professional development programs that enhance transferable skills  
  3. Funding competitive awards to support student travel to national/international conferences to share research or creative accomplishments

Taking you TO THE TOP!
Elevating you to a higher level of academic and professional achievement

Meet our Staff

Karen Coats601.266.4262

Tracy Barnhill601.266.5908


Desira Bailey601.266.4262

Areas of Responsibility: Administrative Assistant to the Dean, Graduate Council, and Faculty Credentials

Shelby Flores601.266.4733

Areas of Responsibility: Oversees all graduate assistantship processes and maintenance of Graduate School accounts

Kim Brown601.266.6544

Michael Howell601.266.4181

Areas of Responsibility: Progress-to-degree for students in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business & Economic Development, and Nursing & Health Professions

Sue Fayard


Areas of Responsibility: Progress-to-degree for students in the College of Education & Human Sciences, School of Music, and International Development

Michaela Donohue601.266.4372
Areas of Responsibility:
Thesis, dissertation, doctoral project formatting and review; prospect communication liaison; Graduate School website

Elisabeth McBride601.266.5184

Areas of Responsibility: Admissions and PeopleSoft processes, and Radius setup, maintenance, and training

Julie Beckham601.266.6847

Areas of Responsibility: Admissions processes

Lindsey Garrity601.266.6567

Areas of Responsibility:
Admissions processes, graduate student professional development

Contact Us

Graduate School
211 McCain Library
Hattiesburg Campus

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