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Ph.D. Career Pathways 

Graduate Commencement 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug.14, 2017) – Not everyone who earns a Ph.D. ends up becoming a professor. And to learn the range of fields open to those with advanced degrees, UAlbany will begin tracking outcomes for both current doctoral students and alumni.

A consortium made up of the University and the three other SUNY University Centers – the University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University and Binghamton University — was among those selected by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to collect data on Ph.D. careers in STEM fields and the humanities, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The doctoral student survey will be sent to current UAlbany students in the fall, and the Ph.D. alumni survey will go out to alumni in spring 2018.

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

Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Kevin Williams said the University applied for the program because a better understanding of career goals and paths will allow graduate educators to align curricula and professional development activities with the types of careers students are likely to pursue. The push for a national survey of doctoral students gained momentum at a CGS workshop in 2014. Until now, there’s been no centralized way to find out what happens to Ph.D. alums.

“The findings will strengthen our ability to prepare current students for a wide range of careers,” Williams said. “In addition, it will allow us to recruit and retain new doctoral students based on empirical evidence about the broad range of careers open to them.”

UAlbany will administer two surveys: one for current doctoral students in years 2 and 5 of their programs; and the other for Ph.D. alumni at 3, 8 and 15 years after graduation.

“Today, universities recognize that Ph.D. students aspire to a wide variety of careers,” 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.”

At a time when national enrollment in humanities doctoral programs has slowed with the decline in tenure-track jobs, the initiative will offer a broader understanding of possible Ph.D. careers in the humanities.

“The initiative meshes well with comparable work on expanding career horizons and opportunities for humanities Ph.D.s,” said Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association and a member of the committee that advised CGS on survey development. “This work will give us critically-needed information about diverse career pathways among humanists, many of whom pursue careers beyond the professoriate. Its results will empower doctoral students and alumni working to understand and expand the career options available to them.”

In addition to UAlbany’s partners in the SUNY Consortium and the University of California schools, Brown University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, are among the other project participants.

More information is available at #PhDCareerPathways and @CGSGradEd.

The initiative is a best practice project of the CGS, a national organization that supports graduate education and research.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.