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Feb 28 2018

Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement, Council of Graduate Schools, career pathways.#Career #pathways

career pathways

Career pathways

To support the careers of current and aspiring PhD holders, our nation’s universities need a better understanding of their career pathways and professional preparation. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF #1661272) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CGS has launched a project to help universities collect data on the career pathways of STEM and humanities PhDs. Twenty-nine doctoral institutions have been selected for sub-awards from CGS to gather information about the professional aspirations, career pathways, and career preparation of their PhD students and alumni.

Project Overview

Over the course of this three-year project, universities will collect data from current PhD students and alumni using surveys that were developed by CGS in consultation with senior university leaders, funding agencies, disciplinary societies, researchers, and PhD students and alumni. The resulting data will allow universities to analyze PhD career preferences and outcomes at the program level and help faculty and university leaders strengthen career services, professional development opportunities, and mentoring.

Alumni and Student Surveys

The CGS PhD Career Pathways surveys are designed to:

  • Be administered by graduate schools or graduate programs.
  • Capture the career aspirations and program experiences of 2nd and 5th-year PhD students.
  • Capture snapshots of PhD alumni career progression at three, eight, and fifteen years since earning a doctorate in STEM (including social sciences) and humanities fields.
  • Complement existing federal datasets such as the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) as well as those assembled by the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE), and individual institutions.
  • Inform career services, professional development opportunities, and mentoring at individual graduate school and doctoral program levels.

The first wave of the survey will be sent to PhD alumni in Fall of 2017, and CGS will begin publishing the first wave of survey findings in the following Fall.

For final versions of the PhD Career Pathways surveys and the Implementation Guide, please contact Jeff Engler.

Project Partners

The following universities have been selected to participate in the project as funded research partners:

  • Arizona State University
  • Brown University
  • Emory University
  • Morgan State University University ofMaryland, Baltimore County
  • New York University
  • The State University of New York (SUNY) Consortium
    • SUNY Albany
    • SUNY Binghamton
    • SUNY Buffalo
    • SUNY Stony Brook
  • Texas A M University The University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Arkansas
  • The University of California System Consortium
    • University of California, Berkeley
    • University of California, Davis
    • University of California, Irvine
    • University of California, Los Angeles
    • University of California, Merced
    • University of California, Riverside
    • University of California, San Diego
    • University of California, San Francisco
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Wayne State University

Additional institutions are participating in the project as affiliate partners.

Press Releases


The current phase of Understanding PhD Career Pathways is built upon two previous projects: a feasibility study funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and a planning grant funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSF #1534620). Findings from the feasibility study are summarized in a 2014 report, Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement.


Career pathways Career pathways

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (NSF #1661272). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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