Graduate College

The Arizona State University Graduate College hosted an event on Friday, September 17, 2017 to provide information on an upcoming research project for eligible PhD students. ASU was selected along with 29 other universities to participate in a research grant funded by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that focuses on collecting data on the progression of student careers and aspirations over a three-year period. Dr. Alfredo J. Artiles and Dr. Jennifer Cason from the Graduate College lead this research study at ASU. A number of other universities have also chosen to participate without funding because of the potential benefits that these data might bring to the development of their programs.

Dr. Jennifer Cason, Graduate College Director of Student Support Initiatives, spoke to graduate students about the application process and how the research would be conducted.

Over the course of this study, the Graduate College is collecting this fall information 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 also be collected during the Spring semester. The focus will be on STEM and Humanities fields.

“I’m a pro-survey person,” said Charlotte Till, fifth-year anthropology PhD student at ASU. “It sounded interesting. I’ve been involved in a similar study in my undergraduate institution. I thought I’m already involved in one, this one’s probably interesting and similar.”

CGS has conducted various studies over the years on graduate education and uses their findings in order to create best practices. Many PhD students align their career paths to become future faculty in academia but find that the number of available positions in their desired field are not keeping up with the number of aspiring graduates. The organization hopes to track how this affects students and their ultimate career choices.

A unique aspect to the ASU study is the funding for career development activities that is accomplished by setting aside a portion of the grant so that chosen students can receive a “career development allowance” of up to $500 that would support activities such as internships, non-academic mentorship opportunities and other materials and activities that would benefit the advancement of one’s career.

The goal is to understand career aspirations and track how those aspirations change over time. The university also hopes to better track alumni progress because of the lack of follow-up information on this group. The targeted fields for participation are in the humanities and STEM. This will in turn allow the university to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments for program improvement.

You can learn more by attending an upcoming Understanding PhD Career Pathways Informational Session.

October 24, 2017 and November 2, 2017, or visiting