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New Study: Small Percentage of Ph.D.s End up Employed as FT Profs

by Becky Rynor

Graduates themselves are often unsure of where to look for opportunities outside academe.

Valerie Walker admits it wasn’t so long ago that she was “that grad student” wondering what the heck she was going to do if she didn’t stay in academia.  After graduating in 2009 with a Ph.D. in physiology from McGill University, she said she was “open to options.” She just didn’t know what those options were.

“I really enjoyed research and teaching and communicating knowledge, whether to undergrads in a class or to other academics at conferences,” recalled Dr. Walker, who now serves as director of policy at the not-for-profit organization Mitacs. “I wouldn’t have thought when I was doing my Ph.D., ‘Oh, I’m going to be a director of policy.’ What is that?”

Most Ph.D. graduates set their sights on academia – and nearly 40 percent do work in the postsecondary education sector, according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing Ph.D.s for Careers. However, the report noted that less than one in five Ph.D.s – 18.6 percent – end up employed as full-time university professors, and that includes both tenure

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