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Understanding PhD Career Pathways Research Project

Arizona State University’s Graduate College has been selected to participate in a multi-institutional grant aimed at studying doctoral career pathways for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and the Humanities.  The ASU Graduate College’s “Understanding PhD Career Pathways” research project will receive $80,000 to understand students’ career aspirations and levels of academic training for versatile careers, as well as improve professional development for doctoral students. 

About the ASU Study

PhD Career Pathways is a best practice project led by the Council of Graduate Schools, a national organization that supports graduate education and research. The research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The council has selected 29 universities to participate in the three-year project, and 18 affiliate partners. The ASU research team will survey current graduate students at years one, two and five, and track alumni who received doctorates three, eight and 15 years ago. Results will help gain insight into the understudied professional landscape for doctoral students in academic and nonacademic careers.

How it works

Survey data will be collected in the Fall semester from first year doctoral students, as well as alumni who have completed their degrees three years, eight years, and 15 years ago. Survey data from second, and fifth-year PhD students will be collected during the Spring semester.  The focus will be on STEM and Humanities fields. Additional support career development preparation for multiple career pathways will be provided through:

  • A Career Development Allowance
  • The production of videos on career preparation and transition between academic and nonacademic employment sectors.
  • Strengthen links with industry and other stakeholders.

Career Development Allowance

Targeted STEM and Humanities current PhD students, in their 2nd or 5th year of study, who wish to participate in the Graduate College Understanding PhD Career Pathways research study will be invited to complete a survey. Upon completion of the survey, students can further contribute to the study by applying for a career development allowance (up to $500). Twenty-five random participants will receive funding for career development activities.

The career development allowance may be utilized to participate in internship-related activities to enhance student career aspirations.  Through field-based internship-related experiences, students have the opportunity to strengthen transferable skills, mobilize knowledge developed through PhD training, and gain experience in various employment sectors.  Proposed activities can include, but are not limited to:

  • Travel for field-based internship-related experiences, such as interviewing professionals in your research areas of interest.  
  • Participation in career development activities with non-academic mentors at their places of employment, such as a research presentation to lay audiences or meetings with members of the organization where knowledge is exchanged to demonstrate value of your research.
  • Supplies for career development activities, such as printed materials, poster boards, or any items that will be directly contents to scholar presentation research and making career connections.

How to Apply

Qualifying participants who complete the student survey can email project co-PI, Dr. Jennifer Cason, jennifer.cason@asu.edu to receive a career development allowance application.