Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement

New Research Brief on Student Participation in Professional Development Now Available!


The Council of Graduate Schools’ PhD Career Pathways project is a multi-phase initiative to improve doctoral education through data collection, information-sharing, university networks, and resource development. With support from the National Science Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, CGS has built a coalition of 75 doctoral institutions working to help universities improve student and alumni experiences and outcomes through an evidence-informed approach. In addition, CGS collects aggregate data on PhD career aspirations and outcomes from our partner universities and provides insights on the experiences and outcomes of doctoral training at the national level.

Research Briefs

The research briefs that have resulted from CGS’s analysis of national data can help you contextualize your own institution’s data, inform programs about alumni outcomes at the national level, and start conversations about skills and resources that will support the career success of your students. Our briefs to date include:


Surveys and Implementation Guide

The CGS PhD Career Pathways surveys, a student questionnaire and an alumni questionnaire, are designed to be administered by graduate schools or programs. The data collected through the survey can help support greater transparency about PhD career aspirations and outcomes and to inform curricula, career services, professional development opportunities, and mentoring. For more information about the PhD Career Pathways surveys and Implementation Guide, please contact Enyu Zhou.


Shaping New Narratives about PhD Careers

CGS has developed a communications resource that is designed to help university partners advocate for greater transparency about PhD careers and to support career diversity. The tool includes tips for supporting career diversity in campus social media as well as guidance on communicating the value of diverse careers. Click here to view or download the tool.


Julia Kent


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. (NSF #1661272 and #2000750). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.