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Celebrating the Wisdom of Inquiry!

The Graduate School was established in 1906 by an act of the General Assembly.  The act transformed the South Carolina College, which had celebrated its centennial in 1905, into the University of South Carolina.  During its first century the institution had awarded more than 100 master’s degrees and one Ph.D., but, graduate study had been highly individualized rather than systematic.  The new Graduate School began its work in fall 1906 under the direction of a Graduate Committee chaired by Dr. George Wauchope, the beloved author of the USC Alma Mater.  Only the Master of Arts degree was offered during the next 17 years as enrollments increased and degree requirements were refined.

In 1922 President W.S. Currell resigned to accept the newly created position of Dean of the Graduate School.  During the next six years, Dean Currell gave the Graduate School the boost it needed.  Graduate student head count during the academic year tripled, averaging around 150 in the latter part of the decade; and hundreds of teachers attended the summer schools that began in 1923.  Ph.D. programs were established in English, History, and Education.  When Dean Currell stepped down and the highly respected English Professor Reed Smith succeeded him in 1929, the future of the Graduate School seemed assured.  But, in the early 1930s, the Great Depression turned back the clock.  Enrollments declined, and only 11 Ph.D. degrees were awarded before inadequate funding in 1934 necessitated a moratorium on Ph.D. admissions that lasted for 10 years.

After the Second World War, the Graduate School entered a growth phase that lasted more than four decades.  The number of students increased steadily until enrollment leveled off at around 10,000.  The number of doctoral programs (excluding the purely professional J.D., M.D., and Pharm. D.) grew to 56, and the master’s to 156.  Degrees awarded annually in the late 1990s and later have averaged around 1,600 master’s and 275 doctorates.  Much of this growth has taken place in the science departments and the various professional colleges and schools that developed over the years.

We can be proud that women were admitted to the Graduate School from the beginning in 1906 and have outnumbered men much of the time since then.  Also, during the past two decades, the Graduate School has been among the leaders in higher education in recruiting and graduating underrepresented minorities.

A wide range of comprehensive programs have helped the University continue to be a first-choice destination for students seeking the lifelong value of a quality higher education experience and to continue to celebrate the wisdom of inquiry.