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UNC-Chapel Hill participated in PhD Career Pathways effort involving 882 doctoral graduates from 35 institutions

PhD Career PathwaysA national Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) survey of humanities doctoral graduates indicates that they believe their PhDs prepared them well for jobs both within and outside the academy.

The recently announced findings, part of the larger Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement project, are based on survey responses from 882 humanities doctoral graduates from 35 institutions. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the institutions represented in the comprehensive data collection effort, and The Graduate School is administering the UNC-Chapel Hill data collection.

“The PhD Career Pathways project is providing us with the first actionable data from alumni that graduate programs can use to support flexible career outcomes for their students,” said Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School.

Humanities doctoral graduates at three, eight and 15 years post-graduation, and in both academic and non-academic positions, shared their perceptions. Key findings from the national survey include the following:

  • A majority of those surveyed, at each career interval, reported that their doctoral degrees prepared them “extremely well” or “very well” for their current jobs. This was true for respondents in both academic and non-academic positions. The lowest majority was reported for respondents who were three years post-PhD and in non-academic positions (52%).
  • A majority of respondents, in all categories, reported that they “definitely would” or “probably would” pursue a PhD in general or in the same field, if they had to start again. The lowest majority was reported for respondents who were three years post-PhD, in non-academic positions and said they would pursue a PhD in the same field (52%).

“While these findings represent the first wave of our data, they provide a strong indication that humanities PhDs find their training relevant to diverse career contexts,” said CGS President Suzanne Ortega. “Perhaps the most intriguing finding is that people eight and 15 years out of their PhDs find their training more relevant to their jobs than the earlier cohort.”

According to the CGS, data collected within the Career Pathways project will allow universities to study doctoral career choices and outcomes at the program level, and help faculty and university administrators enhance professional development. The data will also be useful in university efforts to enhance career services, mentoring and professional development for doctoral students.

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