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    Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement

    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.



    Project Highlights



    Join the Coalition


    Doctoral institutions in CGS’s member network are eligible to apply to participate as project affiliates, a requirement for competing for future award funding. For more information on the project partners, please read and download the Career Pathways project flyer.




    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.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.