Experts Convene to Explore Challenges of Understanding PhD Career Pathways
    October 6, 2014

    Warrenton, VA — Over fifty experts in graduate education met last week to investigate the challenges of understanding the career pathways of PhD holders. Currently little is known about the full range of careers held by doctoral recipients. Since many PhD holders do not ultimately take university positions, there is a corresponding lack of information about the contributions of this population to the U.S. workforce.


    The workshop, which met on September 29-30, represents a key component of the project Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement, a Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) initiative funded by the Alfred P. Sloan and Andrew W. Mellon foundations. Participants in the workshop included graduate deans; researchers from major studies on career tracking; representatives of disciplinary societies, including prominent faculty in different fields; graduate students; and other experts.


    CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega explained, “A better understanding of doctoral careers will allow programs to develop curricula and professional development opportunities that better prepare graduate students for the full range of careers they are likely to follow.” She added, “Better transparency about where PhDs ultimately pursue work will also empower current and prospective PhD students to make informed choices with respect to graduate education.”


    Over the course of the two-day workshop, there were many calls for continued analysis of the gaps in the current research, as the next step toward developing a common set of definitions, processes, and procedures that would allow universities to improve their graduate programs and better inform key stakeholders.


    This fall CGS will analyze the results of the workshop, and outline next steps for future work in this area, for a report that will be shared widely with the higher education community.

    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 91% of the doctoral degrees and 81% of the master’s degrees.* The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.


    * Based on data from the 2013 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.