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Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Monday, May 7, 2012

Report calls for more cooperation between graduate schools, employers

IU graduate school dean served on panel that produced recommendations for universities, policymakers and industry

May 7, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Universities, employers and policymakers must do a better job of linking graduate education with workforce needs, according to a report from a national commission of experts that included an Indiana University administrator.

James Wimbush, dean of the University Graduate School at IU, served on the 16-member commission that was convened by the Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service to address the issue of employment and career options for students who earn graduate degrees.

The commission's report, "Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers," examines data on the availability of jobs outside academia for holders of advanced degrees, along with information about how graduate students do and don't learn about such options.

"The results showed that there are many career options available in the public and private sector for those who earn graduate degrees, including the Ph.D.," Wimbush said. "Companies have career paths available, but neither students nor faculty are always aware of these opportunities."

According to the report, by 2020, 2.6 million new or replacement jobs will require an advanced degree. But the U.S. will not be able to make effective use of graduate students with high-level knowledge and skills unless universities, businesses and the government and nonprofit sectors work together more effectively than they do now, the report says.

Through in-depth interviews, the authors of the report discovered that employers value the skills and expertise of people with graduate degrees. However, employers would welcome the development in graduate school of additional skills, including business savvy, teamwork, communication and problem solving. Employers want graduate students to learn to innovate, apply their knowledge to other areas and think like entrepreneurs.

Findings and recommendations from the report include:

  • Federal policymakers should support research to better understand career pathways for graduate students and consider establishing a Professional Plus Program that supports research assistantships to prepare students for a variety of careers.
  • Universities should track career outcomes for graduates, provide stronger career counseling, connect graduate students with alumni, broaden the focus of graduate education to include more professional skills, and build opportunities for graduate students and faculty to engage with industry, government and other sectors.
  • Employers should expand collaborations with universities, make strategic investments in graduate education, provide internships and research opportunities for graduate students, offer research and sabbatical opportunities for faculty, and provide student financial assistance.

Wimbush said IU's implementation of a "Lifetime Communications" constituent management relationship platform, provided by University Information Technology Services, will create opportunities for tracking the careers of graduates and compiling useful data.

"We are looking forward to using the system to inform us of the career paths our graduate alumni have taken, and to using the data to help inform current students about the many career options that are available to them," he said.

More information about "Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers," including links to the executive summary and the complete report, is available online. To speak with Wimbush about the report, contact Steve Hinnefeld at IU Communications, 812-856-3488 or