Fresno State was awarded a five-year, $2.87 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to create a blue ribbon online graduate campus that will expand access to graduate education for Hispanic, low-income and first-generation students.

While undergraduate Hispanic enrollment has grown at Fresno State, graduate Hispanic enrollment has not kept pace.

The project will develop and implement resources to support the growing number of online programs and courses at Fresno State and to attract, retain and graduate more Hispanic students. The goal is to increase enrollment of Hispanic students in Fresno State’s online graduate programs by 25 percent over five years, and to increase the number of online master’s and doctoral degrees awarded at Fresno State by 10 percent.

“Advanced degrees are increasingly critical for both employment in and advancement of the region,” said Fresno State Provost Lynnette Zelezny. “Creating more access to graduate education will be a real game-changer for professionals in the San Joaquin Valley.”

The University currently offers 50 or more online graduate courses each semester, including four master’s programs that are completely online and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program that is mostly online. In 2016, Fresno State will launch the Collaborative Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership — the first online doctoral program of its kind in the California State University system.

It’s critical for Fresno State — as the largest Hispanic-Serving Institution north of Los Angeles —to increase access in the San Joaquin Valley, Zelezny said.

The project is designed to improve students’ performance and support them in earning degrees and moving into satisfying professional careers or doctoral programs.

“The San Joaquin Valley is huge, which can make obtaining a graduate degree challenging for a working professional, perhaps with a family, in a locale distant from the campus,” said Dr. Gil Harootunian, director for University initiatives. “The University is committed to providing online post-graduate educational opportunities of the highest quality for the growing Hispanic population throughout the Valley.”

Fresno State was one of 19 grant recipients in the United States and Puerto Rico.

For more information, contact Harootunian at 559.278.4850 or