Skip navigation

Graduate School

About Us

Welcome from the Dean

Karen S. Coats

It is an exciting time to pursue a graduate degree at Southern Miss! One of 130 universities holding the Carnegie Classification “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high 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. Our 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 3165 (Fall 2020), comprises nearly 22% of the total student population and includes international students from across the globe, working professionals, non-traditional and traditionally-aged students, and face-to-face, hybrid, 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 to 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 transcend disciplines 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, Carnegie R1 research institution, 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.

  • Increasing visibility and perceived value of a graduate degree from Southern Miss by showcasing student and faculty accomplishments
  • Developing strategies for proactive recruitment of local, regional, national, and international students
  • Providing competitive financial support through assistantships and fellowships that attract high quality prospects
  • 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.

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

Office of the Graduate School

Head shot of Karen S. Coats, Ph.D.

Karen S. Coats, Ph.D.

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School


Head shot of Richard Mohn, PhD

Richard Mohn, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of the Graduate School


Head shot of Tracy Barnhill, M.Ed.

Tracy Barnhill, M.Ed.

Director of Graduate School Operations



Head shot of Desira L. Bailey

Desira L. Bailey

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

Administrative Assistant to the Dean, Graduate Council, and Faculty Credentials



Head shot of Shelby Flores, M.P.A.

Shelby Flores, M.P.A.

Assistant to the Dean for Finance and Administration

Areas of Expertise

Maintains all Graduate School accounts and oversees all graduate assistantships



Headshot of Emily Gruzinskas

Emily Gruzinskas, B.A.

Associate Business Analyst



Head shot of Sue Fayard, B.S.

Sue Fayard, B.S.

Degree Auditor

Areas of Expertise

Progress-to-degree for students in the College of Education & Human Sciences, School of Communication, School of Humanities, School of Music, School of Performing & Visual Arts, School of Social Science & Global Studies



Head shot of Michael Howell, M.A.

Michael Howell, M.A.

Degree Auditor

Areas of Expertise

Progress-to-degree for students in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences (except students in the schools listed above), Business & Economic Development, and Nursing & Health Professions



Shaadi Shoubaki, M.A.

Shaadi Shoubaki, M.A.

Professional Development Coordinator



Headshot of Jon Snyder, Communications and Documents Specialist

Jonathan Snyder, Ph.D.

Graduate Communications and Documents Specialist

Areas of Expertise

Thesis, dissertation, and doctoral project formatting and review



Head shot of Elisabeth McBride, M.S.

Elisabeth McBride, M.S.

Associate Director for Graduate Admissions

Areas of Expertise

Admissions and PeopleSoft Process, Radius set-up, maintenance, and training



Headshot of Cymon Davis, Gradaute Admissions Specialist

Cymon Davis, B.A.

Graduate Admissions Specialist

Areas of Expertise

Admissions processes



Daleana Phillips, M.A.

Director of McNair Scholars Program



Jessica Love, PhD

Jessica Love, Ph.D.

Coordinator of McNair Scholars Program



Contact Us

Graduate School
143 JB George
Hattiesburg Campus

Campus Map