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New office streamlines graduate admissions process at Augusta University

As the number of applicants to Augusta University’s graduate programs rises, so too has the need for more a streamlined process. That’s why the university launched the Graduate Admissions Operations office, which helps students connect with the right people to answer their questions about AU’s graduate programs. 

According to Graduate Admissions Operations Director Naronda Wright, EdD, the university processed 23% more applications for fall 2023 compared to fall 2022. Numbers for spring 2024 are already up compared to spring 2023, as well. 

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Pictured from left are Naronda Wright, EdD, GAO director; Chantaye Watson, GAO student services specialist; and Julie Swearingen, GAO assistant director.

Graduate and professional student enrollment was instrumental in Augusta University crossing the milestone for 10,000 students enrolled, with graduate and professional student enrollment increasing 9.5% overall, including a 32% increase in first-time graduate students over fall 2022. 

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Naronda Wright, EdD

“I think the biggest thing for me is I really have a heart for higher education and for graduate education particularly,” Wright said. “To see students apply to a program that they really want to get into and then be admitted, and they’re excited about being admitted to a program that they think is going to help them in their career, that’s probably the thing that excites me the most. Seeing the student that I helped through admissions then graduate, it’s like, ‘Yes, we did our job.’”  

The Office of Graduate Admissions Operations works with prospective students to provide clear directions about the steps necessary to be considered for admission to one of AU’s 70-plus graduate programs. In addition to programs housed in The Graduate School, the office also processes applications for the College of Allied Health Sciences’ physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician’s assistant and clinical laboratory sciences programs, the College of Nursing’s clinical nurse leader program and the College of Education and Human Development’s Master of Arts in Teaching.  

Nia Stevenson-Smith, a May 2023 graduate of AU’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, is now enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. She found the process of graduating and immediately enrolling for her master’s degree to be smooth at AU. 

Three people pose for a graduation photo. The two women are in regalia.
Nia Stevenson-Smith and her mother graduated from their respective programs at Augusta University in May 2023.

“I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in May with my mom, who also received a master’s degree from AU. From that day, I knew I wanted to receive my master’s from Augusta University, and I secured my enrollment to begin my master’s degree journey in August. I was able to speak with my adviser easily, and I always received a quick and helpful reply,” Stevenson-Smith said.   

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Jennifer Sullivan, PhD

Jennifer C. Sullivan, PhD, dean of The Graduate School, said it’s experiences like Stevenson-Smith’s that make Augusta a university like no other. 

“The thing that has kept me here for 23 years is the sense of community and the strong ties that our faculty have,” Sullivan said. “Our faculty and staff have ties not only to one another, but also to the support of all students and a strong commitment to student education. The lengths that faculty will go to ensure that our students are successful and have the resources they need are unparalleled.” 

To learn more about the process of applying for graduate programs at Augusta University, visit the Graduate Admission Operations page.
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Written by
Jennifer Lask

Jennifer Lask is a senior communications strategist for Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her at

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Woman's head shot Written by Jennifer Lask

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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