Why do students who live in residence have a higher graduation rate?

A McMaster residence Living Learning Community event. Photo by Yvonne Luyd.

“What makes living in residence a driver of student success?”


McMaster’s Housing and Conference Services is offering two faculty members a chance to explore this question through a new Residence Faculty (RF) Fellowship program.

Beginning in May 2020, the program aims to generate insights that will guide HCS on enhancing the student residence experience.


The grants will last 14 months and consist of two components. The first will examine specific aspects of the on-campus housing experience, and the second will see faculty fellows mentor residence students through the research process as part of a new experiential learning opportunity.

Each grant is valued at $10,000.


Kevin Beatty, director of HCS, believes the fellowship is powerful because it aligns the residence learning experience with the university’s academic mission.


“The evidence is clear that McMaster’s residence experience has an important positive impact on the growth and performance of our first-year students,” says Beatty. “What makes this project so valuable is that it connects faculty and residents through experiential learning and focuses on integrating them into university research activities very early in their academic careers.

“In one sense, residents become both the co-investigator and subject of their own research.” 

A recent study by HCS and the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis found that one of the benefits to first-year students living in residence is that they were more likely to graduate from McMaster than those who lived off-campus. International students in residence were six and a half per cent more likely to graduate than their off-campus counterparts, while Canadian residence students had a 10 per cent higher graduation rate. 


This analysis controlled for entering residence GPAs but could not directly point to why the difference between residence and off-campus students. With the RF fellowship program, HCS hopes to gain more insight into the existing value of the student residence experience and find new evidence-based ways to improve programming.


“We are excited for the results and the ability to further support the academy a new experiential research opportunity,” said Beatty.


Interested faculty members are welcome to apply for the Residence Faculty Fellowship program by Monday, March 16 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information and application details please visit 

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