New ACE Brief, Search Tool Outline Effective Mentoring Programs and Practices for Graduate Education
May 22, 2023

​Resources focus on benefits of mentoring for historically minoritized students

Higher education mentoring programs can be extremely useful in helping students realize their academic interests, connecting them with faculty and peers and demystifying pathways into graduate school, while teaching them specific skills needed for their studies. For students of color and other historically minoritized students, mentoring has been shown to be especially promising in encouraging their pursuit of graduate education, according to a new brief published by ACE.

The brief, “Formal and Informal Mentoring to Broaden the Pathway into Graduate Education" by Ji Hye “Jane" Kim, focuses on the types of mentoring programs that are effective in helping historically minoritized students. It also breaks down the considerations for campus leaders who want to implement mentoring programs and practices at their own institutions.

Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students remain substantially underrepresented in graduate fields when compared with White students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The brief gives an overview of the research on the benefits of mentoring programs, which shows they give students a first-hand perspective of the pathways to graduate school by providing useful information about graduate school life, the application process, and the resources available to students. Mentoring is often offered in a research setting, which allows students to experience and learn useful research skills necessary for many graduate school programs.

Another benefit is the opportunity for potential graduate students to connect with faculty and develop social networks in their fields of interest, while mentors also benefit from the experience of serving in this role.

The report concludes with several recommendations for campus leaders who want to use effective mentoring practices to help increase enrollment of historically minoritized students in graduate education.

Some of these recommendations include:

  • Assess how mentoring practice can align with other campus-wide initiatives or goals to support historically minoritized students.

  • Consider the needs of the student body when determining what types of mentoring programs your institution wishes to offer.

  • Strategically match mentors with mentees by considering the benefits and downsides of different types of arrangement and needs of students.

  • Consider providing financial support (i.e., scholarship, application fee support) to encourage historically minoritized students to participate in mentoring and continue to pursue their education.

Read the report to get more insight into these effective practices and considerations.

ACE's new search tool offers examples of institutions that employ these various practices. Practices are organized into four stages of students' academic journeys along the pathway into and through graduate education.

This practice brief is part of ACE's Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education project, which provides a data-informed foundation for those who are working to close persistent equity gaps by presenting a comprehensive review of the educational pathways of today's college students and the educators who serve them. Visit to learn more about the project. This brief and the search tool were made possible through generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.