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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 over 2600 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 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, 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.

  • 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

Karen S. Coats, Ph.D

Karen S. Coats, Ph.D.

Dean of the Graduate School

Email
Karen.CoatsFREEMississippi

Alan Thompson, Ph.D.

Alan Thompson, Ph.D.

Interim Associate Dean of the Graduate School

Email
Alan.ThompsonFREEMississippi

Tracy Barnhill, M.Ed.

Tracy Barnhill, M.E.d.

Director of Graduate School Operations

601.266.5908

Email
Tracy.BarnhillFREEMississippi

Desira L. Bailey

Desira L. Bailey

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

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

601.266.4262

Email
Desira.L.BaileyFREEMississippi

Shelby Flores, M.P.A.

Shelby Flores, M.P.A.

Coordinator of Business and Accounting Processes

Areas of Expertise

Maintains all Graduate School accounts and oversees all graduate assistantships

601.266.4733

Email
%20Shelby.BrownFREEMississippi

Michaela Donohue, M.A.

Michaela Donohue, M.A.

Graduate Communications and Documents Specialist

Areas of Expertise

Thesis, dissertation, and doctoral project formatting and review

601.266.4372

Email
Michaela.DonohueFREEMississippi

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

601.266.5136

Email
Sue.FayardFREEMississippi

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 list above), Business & Economic Development, and Nursing & Health Professions

601.266.4181

Email
Michael.HowellFREEMississippi

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

601.266.5184

Email
Elisabeth.McBrideFREEMississippi

Lindsey Jones, B.A.

Lindsey Jones, B.A.

Coordinator of Professional Development/Admissions Specialist

Areas of Expertise

Graduate student professional development and admissions processes

601.266.6567

Email
Lindsey.GarrityFREEMississippi

Julie Beckham, B.S.

Julie Williams, B.S.

Graduate Admissions Specialist

Areas of Expertise

Admissions processes

601.266.6847

Email
Julie.BeckhamFREEMississippi

Kim S. Brown, M.S.

Kim S. Brown, M.S.

Director of McNair Scholars Program

601.266.6544

Email
Kimbaya.BrownFREEMississippi

Renée Bailey, Ph.D.

McNair Scholars Program Coordinator

Email
Renee.BaileyFREEMississippi

Contact Us

Graduate School
211 McCain Library
Hattiesburg Campus

Campus Map

Email
graduateschoolFREEMississippi

Phone
601.266.4369