Graduate Students Need Better Career Counseling

April 20, 2012

Graduate StudentThe latest study coming out of the Council of Graduate Schools and the Educational Testing Service suggests that graduate students need to be better able to identify the careers for which they could qualify.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the study, called "Pathways Through Graduate Schools and Into Careers," indicates that one problem that graduate students could encounter is the inability to match their skills with the experience necessary for their industries. This is especially a concern since the study estimates that 2.6 million new jobs will require advanced degrees by 2020. Within the next eight years, jobs requiring a master's degree will increase by an estimated 22 percent, while the number of jobs requiring a doctoral or professional degree will increase by an estimated 20 percent.

The study notes that about a third of graduate students know the full range of post-graduate career opportunities available to them before starting graduate school, and many of them depend on faculty to gain such information. However, since faculty members are usually only aware of career opportunities specific to their fields, they often provide students with limited information.

According to Pat Osmer, dean of Ohio State University's graduate school and co-chair of the study, career opportunities available to graduate students are not limited to academia. As he told Inside Higher Ed, "People are not so aware of opportunities outside the regular academic and research track. A Ph.D. degree is about developing creative skills to identify new problems."

The report calls for increased collaboration between leaders in business and those in education to supply graduate students with more professional skills, a press release indicates. Employers particularly value communication and problem-solving skills and the ability to work well in teams.

Other report findings indicate that school officials should track the careers that graduate students pursue, build more connections between students and alumni, provide improved career counseling, and increase the number of opportunities that students have to participate in business and industry while in school.

Ron Townsend, who sat on the commission responsible for developing the study, looks to business and engineering as examples of fields that seem to successfully collaborate with the world of academia and give students a clear idea of their career options.

As Pat S. Osmer, vice provost and dean of the graduate school at Ohio State University and chair of the commission that developed the report, says, "Graduate school is no longer about making clones of ourselves and training people with the same techniques to work on the same problems from decades ago. It is about identifying the important research and solving problems of the 21st century. We need to make sure graduate students learn the right skills and techniques to do that."

Compiled by Maggie O'Neill


"Graduate Schools Need to Improve Career Counseling, Report Says,", April 19, 2012, Stacey Patton

"Prepping Grad Students for Jobs,", April 19, 2012, Mitch Smith

"U.S. Must Close Gap Between Graduate Schools, Employers to Stay Competitive, Spur Innovation,", April 19, 2012

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