Teaching, learning and student success: The heart of our university

Academic excellence is our reason for being and the core of our mission, best expressed in the exchange of knowledge among committed professors and students. Wayne State's academic mission is unique in the diversity of students it welcomes and serves; the breadth, talent and diversity of its faculty; its focus on scholarship and creative and performing arts; and its status as an R1 institution (i.e., an institution with Carnegie Foundation's highest research activity designation). Throughout the pandemic, Wayne State has remained true to its academic mission and has emerged with a greater diversity of teaching and learning tools. At Wayne State, teaching and learning are supported by a culture of continuous faculty development, respect for each student's unique purpose and goals, and a shared understanding of student success as the responsibility of every member of the campus community. 

We are committed to ensuring that Wayne State is a doorway to lifelong success and social mobility for our students, and we support the success of each and every student regardless of background, socioeconomic status, culture and orientation. Our goal is to ensure that all Wayne State students have a global education that prepares them for an increasingly interconnected world.  

Our aspiration

We will build upon our remarkable and acclaimed improvements in student success, made possible by our strategic commitment to support every student, no matter their background. This commitment is centered in our dedicated and accomplished faculty, woven into our culture, and present at every level of the university. We recognize that many members of our society need the opportunity to finish or expand their education, and we will be the university that best facilitates their needs. We will build on all we have learned during the pandemic to be nimbler and more flexible in order to meet the diverse needs of students at all levels.

Goal 1: Educate the next generation for a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world.


  • Provide rich and varied educational experiences to promote critical thinking, lifelong discovery, creativity, civic engagement and full participation in society. 
  • Ensure clear academic pathways that lead to timely degree attainment for all students. 
  • Expand access for all undergraduates to opportunities beyond the classroom, including internships, service learning, co-ops, study away and study abroad opportunities, community engagement, and research.
  • Continue to increase both the six-year and the four-year graduation rates for entering freshmen, with a six-year graduation rate goal of 60%.
  • Continue to increase the six-year graduation rate of both historically marginalized and first-generation college students to 50%. 
  • Increase retention at all levels, in part by addressing the unique student challenges that arise from the pandemic.
  • Expand partnerships with community colleges throughout Michigan with a goal of a 60% two-year graduation rate for students entering with associate degrees.

Goal 2: Continue world-class professional and Ph.D. education.


  • Strengthen and promote a broad range of professional programs that are essential to preparing students to enter, advance or lead in Michigan's educated workforce.
  • Strategically focus and strengthen our Ph.D. programs with attention to Wayne State's unique role as an urban R1 university, including pursuing training grants and centers of excellence.
  • Build interdisciplinary connections in doctoral training.
  • Expand broad and creative career development programs for all Ph.D. and professional students.  

Goal 3: Provide lifelong educational opportunities to support career changes, advancement, social mobility and workforce development.


  • Build robust support for adult degree completion programs throughout Michigan.
  • Develop stackable credentials that support workforce development.
  • Expand post-graduate opportunities, including certificates and master's programs that serve career needs, with at least 30 new online certificates and 15 new online master's programs.
  • Create new forms of career planning and support that highlight innovative connections between student academic work and career opportunities.

Goal 4: Increase investment in teaching and learning.


  • Continuously improve our teaching methodologies and course and program offerings to align with our changing demographics, lessons learned from the pandemic and evolving workforce needs.
  • Build robust interprofessional educational experiences for all students.
  • Expand professional development in teaching and learning for faculty members and graduate teaching assistants.
  • Increase recognition and rewards for excellence in teaching and academic student services.

Goal 5: Invest in student success beyond the classroom. 


  • Support students through robust academic and career advising and other student academic support.
  • Provide diverse and inclusive extracurricular opportunities to enhance student life, including opportunities for community engagement.
  • Enhance connections between residential living, student activities and academics.
  • Reduce nonacademic barriers to student success.
  • Increase scholarship funds through philanthropy to better support student financial needs.  
  • Expand support for first-year experience programs to help students connect their work inside and outside of the classroom.