The University of Kansas has created a new graduate degree to help students acquire the skills to lead and develop diversity efforts in their workplace and other organizations.

A new master’s degree in Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion is being offered through the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The program is designed to offer graduate students and working professionals the tools and techniques to better navigate leadership opportunities within the context of social diversity and equity in the United States.

“There’s a new focus on what it means to have diversity, equity and inclusion and how individuals can show up in those spaces and do leadership work,” said Amy Leyerzapf, director of graduate studies at the College’s Institute of Leadership Studies. “At the time we started this process, there was only one other program in the nation that offered anything similar. We want to be out there, out front, and this is an opportunity to do that.”

A 2018 report from Indeed Hiring Lab found a nearly 20% increase nationally in postings for diversity and inclusion positions between 2017 and 2018.

“As the labor market continues to tighten, companies are finding the need to appeal to as many candidates as possible,” the company reported. “To that end, many large companies have started employing professionals that specialize in diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

The new program is designed for recent graduates seeking to round out their skillset before they enter the workforce, mid-career professionals who want to augment their existing skills, university staffers who want to pursue higher degrees to complement their work, and community organizers who work and build knowledge outside the traditional workplace.

To foster diversity, equity and inclusion among degree-seekers, KU is using a “holistic” admissions approach with broader acceptance parameters than most university graduate programs.

The Institute of Leadership Studies is presenting the degree in partnership with KU’s Departments of African & African American Studies and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, as well as the School of Education.

“We don’t require GREs. We’ll take students with GPAs lower than the 3.0 threshold. We look at the potential success, passion for the process, written and oral expression,” Leyerzapf said.

For more on the program visit diversityleadership.ku.edu.

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