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Steven W. Matson, Dean
Steven W. Matson, Dean

Graduate students come to UNC-Chapel Hill with much hope, high expectations and many questions. For the faculty, staff and administrators who support these students every day, we have our own compelling question: Are they getting what they need to succeed? The best answers will come from the master’s and doctoral students themselves, and The Graduate School is gaining that crucial information through an exit survey.

Are our graduate students employed when they finish their degree? What sector (academic, government or private) employs them? Are doctoral students publishing their research while in graduate school? Answers to all of these questions, and much more, are now available for viewing on our exit survey website. The information goes back to 2011, when we first implemented the survey.

The website displaying the results of the survey is highly interactive and allows filtering of the data by degree and broad discipline. The information is being used for program enhancement and, equally important, can be used by prospective students who are thinking of applying for graduate study at Carolina and by programs that are recruiting new students to Carolina.

The data gathered in the exit survey over the years are extensive. We report data in six areas: overall satisfaction, student life, student productivity, faculty and program support, financial support and employment.

The response rate for the survey is high – 97 percent for the 2014-15 academic year. The data for nearly 7,000 total respondents provide much for us to be proud of, as well as indicating areas where improvement is needed. For example, 90 percent of our students rate overall program quality positively. Similarly, the quality of graduate level teaching is also highly rated.

Looking at scholarly productivity, we find that more than 80 percent of our doctoral students report one or more scholarly works published or accepted for publication based on their dissertation research. This is a clear example of how our doctoral students contribute to the research mission of the University.

One of the most gratifying pieces of information coming from this survey has to do with employment. Students are asked about their employment status immediately following degree completion. More than two-thirds of our doctoral students report being employed as they finish their degree, with 2 percent returning to study, 7 percent negotiating an offer and 19 percent seeking employment. This is good news! About 70 percent of our doctoral students move into first jobs in the education sector, 19 percent move into the private sector and 9 percent move into the government sector. Of course, most of these students will change jobs many times during their careers.

A majority of our graduating master’s students plan to work outside education. About 30 percent of master’s students move into jobs in the education sector and 15 percent move into the government sector. Nearly 50 percent of master’s students report being employed or negotiating an offer as they finish their degree, with 6 percent returning to study and 40 percent beginning the application and interviewing process.

Nearly 50 percent of our doctoral students remain in North Carolina – good news for the state. This number is even higher for our master’s students, with almost two-thirds of our master’s graduates finding employment in North Carolina. Of course many of our graduates are employed outside the state, and around the world, and they become some of our University’s best ambassadors.

We are learning a great deal from the exit survey and we encourage our programs to take deep dives into the data to determine where and how they can improve their graduate programs. We also hope prospective students will look at the information provided on this website as they make their decisions about graduate school. They will find much to like about graduate education at Carolina: outstanding faculty, good financial support and robust employment outcomes.

I invite you to take time to look at the exit survey website to learn more about graduate education at Carolina.

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