Revisiting the UBC PhD Career Outcomes project

An article published by University Affairs on PhD career outcome tracking mentions a UBC report released in 2017. This UBC PhD Career Outcomes project identified employment outcomes for 91% of all UBC-V PhD students who graduated between 2005-2013. It was the first comprehensive report of doctoral career outcomes from an institution in Canada, and provided UBC’s graduate programs, students, and prospective students with data to inform their thinking and planning around program elements, career preparation, and for prospective students, their decision to embark on a PhD at UBC. We are currently planning the next iteration of the study, anticipated for release in 2022.

The results of our analysis were consistent with other national and international reports. Career outcomes varied by discipline and changed over time. At 8-11 years after graduation, about one-third of our graduates were in tenure-track professorial positions, one-third were working in the private sector, and most of the remaining third were employed as teaching faculty and in various public sector positions. The vast majority of all graduates employed outside of the academy had professional, research, or management positions. Of survey respondents, 1.6% were unemployed and 1.7% were out of the workforce.

As one example of a program’s response to these and other alumni data, a team from the UBC Department of Educational Studies led by doctoral student Mary Kostandy in partnership with key campus partners is embarking on an ambitious, two-year initiative to engage departmental alumni. The aim is to more meaningfully support current graduate students’ career explorations, and to inform the program’s thinking about potential changes to enhance its relevance. The initiative focuses on creating resources and hostingevents that highlight alumni’s journeys and career experiences across sectors and fields (their inaugural event was held on March 25).

UBC is at the forefront of reimagining research graduate education in light not only of the diversity of our graduates’ career paths, but in response to the increasing complexity and interdependence of today’s world and its urgent problems. The UBC PhD Career Outcomes project continues to inform these efforts, which are aimed largely at supporting and promoting a more capacious understanding of research and learning to nurture broadened abilities of our graduates in holistic, multi-perspectival thinking and effective action. Among the graduate school’s initiatives in this area are the path-breaking Public Scholars Initiative, an expansion of thesis and supervision parameters, the Killam Connection course, and initial work towards a Transdisciplinary, Collaborative PhD model.

Thursday, 08 April 2021