Careers & Professional Development

An increasing number of PhD holders seek jobs outside of academia, contributing immensely to society. How can PhD programs evolve to help students’ broader career realities and ambitions? Here is a wide range of resources on changing PhD careers and professional development approaches.


Towards a National Strategy (June and October 2017)

Issues of employment and skills are becoming an integral part of graduate education. In collaboration with the Consortium of Canadian Graduate Student Professional Development Administrators (CCGSPDA), CAGS undertook a two-phase project with the following goals: 1) to document the current climate of graduate student PDPs in Canadian universities, and 2) to provide guidance on best practices so universities can create and/or improve activities related to professional development for graduate students. In addition to the reports below, the results of the survey can also be consulted on this interactive website.

Phase 1 (download PDF)Phase 2 (download PDF)

Resources on Careers & Professional Development


Basalla, Susan and Maggie Debelius (2014) ‘So What Are You Going to Do with That?’: Finding Careers Outside Academia. University of Chicago Press.

Basalla, Susan and Maggie Debelius (2015) “‘So What Are You Going to Do With That?'”, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Bethman, Brenda and C. Shaun Longstreet (2013) “The Alt-Ac Track: Defining Terms”, Inside Higher Ed.

Bethman, Brenda and C. Shaun Longstreet (2013) “The Alt-Ac Track: Sharing Success in New Ways”, Inside Higher Ed.

Berkowitz, Peggy (2015) “Humanities Scholars Try New Ways of Talking about the PhD”, University Affairs.

Bowness, Suzanne (2015) “What’s up with Alt-Ac Careers?”, University Affairs.

Brooks, Katharine (2011) “10 Tips for Developing an Alternate Career While in Graduate School”, Psychology Today.

Chiose, Simona (2015) “Academics Plant Seeds of Revolution in the Ivory Tower”, Globe and Mail.

Clow, Erin (2015) “Don’t Make me Feel Ashamed of my Career Aspirations”, University Affairs.

Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service (2012) Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers. Educational Testing Service.

Crago, Martha (2015) “Skills that PhDs Need for their Job is a Critical Issue for Universities”, University Affairs.

Cunnigham, Maura Elizabeth (2015) “Alt-Ac from the Start”, Inside Higher Ed.

Edge, Jessica and Daniel Munro (2015) Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing PHDs for Careers. The Conference Board of Canada.

Gilbert, Rob et al. (2004) “The Generic Skills Debate in Research Higher Degrees”, Higher Education Research & Development.

Holmes, Len. (2001) “Reconsidering Graduate Employability: The ‘Graduate Identity’ Approach”, Quality in Higher Education.

Humphrey, Chris (2015) “The Majority of PhDs are Switching into Careers outside Academia”, Jobs on Toast.

Magner, Denise K. (2001) “A New Career Guide for Ph.D.’s Asks: ‘So What Are You Going to Do With That?'”, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Keenan, Elizabeth (2015) “Ph.D.s Do Have Transferable Skills” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), Chronicle Vitae.

Kelsky, Karen (2015) The Professor is in: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job.

Kim, Joshua (2014) “Traditional PhD Programs and Alt-Ac Careers”, Inside Higher Ed.

Kim, Joshua (2015) “Trying to Understand Alt-Acs”, Inside Higher Ed.

Kotsopoulos, Donna (2014) “More University Staff Positions are Being Filled by PhDs”, University Affairs.

Mace, Emily (2015) “Alt-Ac or Bust”, Chronicle Vitae.

Newhouse, Margaret (1993) Outside the Ivory Tower: A Guide for Academics Considering Alternative Careers. Harvard University Office of Careers.

Polk, Jennifer (2013) “Life beyond the PhD”, Academic Matters.

Polk, Jennifer (2013) “Yes, PhD Grad, There is Life Outside the Ivory Tower”, Globe and Mail.

Polk, Jennifer (2015) “What Career Coaches can do for PhD Holders”, University Affairs.

Polk, Jennifer (2014) “Next Steps after Your Postdoc or PhD – Non-Academic Careers”, From PhD to Life.

Segran, Elizabeth (2014) “What Can You Do With a Humanities PhD, Anyway?”, The Atlantic.

Tuhus-Dubrow, Rebecca (2015) “The Repurposed PhD: Finding Life After Academia – and Not Feeling Bad About It”, The New York Times.