Understanding Career Pathways

    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.


    Planning Grant

    In 2015 the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) was awarded grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation (NSF #1534620) 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.


    Feasibility Study

    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


    Press Releases

    CGS Builds on Efforts to Understand PhD Career Pathways

    Experts Convene to Explore Challenges of Understanding PhD Career Pathways

    CGS Launches Project to Study Feasibility of Tracking PhD Career Pathways


    Additional Resources

    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.




    Supported by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation (NSF #1534620).




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