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Wayne State among 15 universities nationwide selected to gather data about Ph.D. career pathways

July 24, 2017


Wayne State University has been selected by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to participate in a collective effort to gather and use data about the careers of Ph.D. students and alumni.

WSU was chosen along with 15 other institutions/consortia to receive an $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support data collection about Ph.D. careers in STEM and humanities fields.

In addition to Wayne State, the other institutions chosen include the University of Notre Dame, Brown University, the University of California system, Arizona State University and Texas A&M University.

“Career diversity is important, and our Ph.D. alumni pursue careers in a broad range of professions in academia, industry, and the nonprofit job sector and government,” said WSU Graduate School Dean Ambika Mathur, who is the principal investigator of this project. “However, students are not always adequately prepared to work in diverse job sectors.”

Over the course of the 10-year project, universities will collect data from current Ph.D. students and alumni with surveys that were developed by CGS in consultation with senior university leaders, funding agencies, disciplinary societies, researchers, and Ph.D. students and alumni. The first wave of the survey will be sent to Ph.D. alumni in fall 2017, and CGS will begin publishing those findings the following fall.

“Today, universities recognize that Ph.D. students aspire to a wide variety of careers, including academic research and teaching,” said CGS President Suzanne Ortega. “Knowing what your alumni do — and how well they are prepared — is becoming the new paradigm, and our university partners are leading the way for the entire community of doctoral institutions.”

CGS consists of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada that are engaged in graduate education, research and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. CGS is expanding the scope of data collection by inviting other CGS doctoral institutions to participate as affiliate partners.

The resulting data will allow universities to analyze Ph.D. career preferences and outcomes at the program level and help faculty and university leaders strengthen career services, professional development opportunities and mentoring in doctoral programs.

“By collecting this data, we will gain a better understanding of ways we can support multiple career options for Ph.D. students to ensure they are well-prepared to work in a broad range of professions over the course of their careers,” Mathur said. “This will help students make more informed Ph.D. program selections. This project also dovetails well with our work on the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training [BEST] grant funded by the National Institutes of Health.”