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Ten-year nationwide survey
yields findings on career paths of Ph.D.s
November 16, 1998

Preliminary results of a long-term study of the career paths of Ph.D.s show that unemployment among Ph.D.s is low and that job satisfaction is high among Ph.D.s in non-academic posts.

Special Issue

The study, "Ph.D.s - Ten Years Later," is being undertaken by Maresi Nerad, director of graduate research at the University of California-Berkeley, with support from the Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

The study, launched in fall 1995, surveyed 6,000 Ph.D. holders from 61 U.S. universities - including UConn - in six disciplines: biochemistry, computer science, electrical engineering, English, mathematics and political science. Nerad mailed a 22-page survey to all those who received a Ph.D. from the participating universities in the years 1983, 1984, and 1985. The survey met with a response rate of more than 70 percent. Nerad also has conducted individual interviews with 65 of the survey participants.

Although the study is not yet published, Nerad shared some of her preliminary findings during a phone interview with the Advance.

The findings include

  • The unemployment rate among participants at the end of 1995 was less than 1 percent.

  • People working in sectors other than academia (industry, business, government and non- profit organizations) are very satisfied with their employment.

  • Within the academic sector, the percentage of people now employed in academia varies enormously by discipline. Among the disciplines in the survey, the lowest rate was in electrical engineering, the highest in English.

  • Of those with a Ph.D. in English who now hold academic posts, many have held positions as temporary lecturers and a significant number are still on one-year appointments.

  • People with a Ph.D. in biochemistry who now hold an academic post on average spent four to five years in post-doctoral positions.

  • Many Ph.D. holders said that they did not feel valued by their department if they chose not to pursue an academic career.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu