No single existing dataset can give institutions or humanities and social science graduate programs the granular PhD career pathways information they need to improve their programs. National datasets such as the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), while valuable for demonstrating certain aspects of PhD careers at the national level, do not give individual doctoral programs information granular enough to be used for program improvement.
In 2015 the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) was awarded grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to advance national and local understandings of the career pathways of PhD holders. With input from a range of stakeholders in the higher education community, CGS will develop a survey instrument and guidelines for data collection across a broad range of fields. These guidelines will be designed to help universities gather long-term career information from their PhD students and alumni with the goal of improving PhD programs.
The CGS planning grant builds upon the results of a one-year study to evaluate the feasibility of a larger project to develop and enhance templates and processes designed to track the career pathways of PhD alumni of STEM, humanities and social science graduate programs. Also funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project included the development of a white paper summarizing what is currently known about the demand for career tracking at the doctoral level in STEM, humanities, and social science fields; a survey of all doctoral granting CGS members to formally document processes for tracking alumni from CGS member institutions; and a workshop that included graduate deans, PhD holders and methodology experts. Download the project report.
CGS has compiled a list of resources for institutions, deans, and program directors seeking more information about solutions and challenges in tracking career pathways of PhDs.
As the national advocate for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource for policymakers and others on issues concerning graduate education, research, and scholarship. Based in Washington, DC, the organization provides its members with regular updates and analyses of legislative and regulatory proposals and policies that affect graduate education.
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