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Pilot Campuses

During Phase I of the AAU PhD Education Initiative, a pilot group of eight member universities, representing 32 academic departments, will implement reforms within STEM, social sciences, arts, and humanities PhD programs over four academic years. These reforms will address the culture, behavior, policies, and practices necessary to create educational environments in which all PhD students feel a sense of belonging in their departments and have the support necessary to achieve their desired educational and professional goals.

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Boston University Campus

Boston University

Boston University is committed to improving the experiences and career preparation of our doctoral students by developing programs and resources that promote student-centered PhD education. We are excited to participate in the AAU’s inaugural PhD Educational Initiative – a pilot that will help BU advance efforts to build innovative, collaborative new approaches to professional development, career mentoring, and skills-based training. The initiative will support our efforts to increase data transparency around the effectiveness of doctoral programs and will help us transform the culture within departments to support the wide array of career paths available to our doctoral students. BU recognizes that institutional cultures and behaviors are not just developed centrally, but within departments. Accordingly, we are proud to have six units representing diverse disciplines taking part in this pilot (Classical Studies, Pharmacology, Counseling Psychology & Applied Human Development, Biostatistics, Sociology, and Biology) and have put together strong administrative and data transparency teams to support our efforts. Among our chief goals is creating a community of faculty and staff dedicated to ensuring BU doctoral students achieve core competencies that represent the knowledge and skills required to succeed within and outside the academy. Daniel Kleinman, associate provost for graduate education serves as the institution’s project leader in the AAU initiative.

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Duke Campus

Duke University

As part of the AAU’s PhD Education Initiative, the Department of Statistical Science and the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University will evaluate their PhD programs in 2019-2020 and explore ways to strengthen their doctoral training through changes to the curriculum, student advising structure, and alumni engagement, with an emphasis on preparing PhD students for diverse career paths. The program evaluation will be data-informed and will include: identifying perceived strengths and needs; identifying how departmental curriculum, policies, programming, and procedures inform student, faculty, and staff experiences; mapping existing advising and mentoring resources, as well as student access to opportunities beyond the department; identifying core skills, content, and assessments used in coursework; and developing logic models that illustrate and identify practical changes that the departments can implement and sustain. On the data-transparency front, Duke will focus on ensuring current students and potential applicants have access to robust data about our programs, student experiences, and career pathways, as well as facilitating and encouraging departments and schools to integrate that data into their decision-making about program strategy and direction. Duke’s participation in the initiative is led by Paula D. McClain, dean of The Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education, and Edward J. Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies. 

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IU Bloomington Campus

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of the nine-campus IU system. With a total enrollment of 43,000, including over 9,000 graduate students, IU Bloomington offers the PhD in 80 major fields and confers over 400 PhD degrees annually. The campus is a participant in several national graduate outcome initiatives, including the Council of Graduate Schools PhD Career Pathways project, the Coalition for Next Generation Life Science project and the AAU PhD Education Initiative. The two IU Bloomington programs participating in the AAU pilot cohort have been actively working to provide diverse career exposure to their PhD students, though with distinct approaches. The Department of History has created programs that address the discrepancy between PhD career expectations and outcomes, while the efforts of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences reflect the diverse and collaborative nature of their training program. During the pilot, both departments will engage with alumni, introduce required diverse career training courses into their curricula, and implement credit-bearing internships as opportunities for career exploration. We will leverage the strengths we have built in undergraduate learning analytics to explore new ways to improve graduate student success. Our efforts will be linked to our participation in national career outcome projects and will become templates for expansion to other IU Bloomington PhD programs. David Daleke, vice provost for graduate education and associate dean of the University Graduate School serves as the campus project leader.

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University of Illinois Campus

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. Our transformative learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant, societal impact. Graduate education at Illinois spans more than 90 doctoral and 155 master’s programs as well as over 25 fully online programs. With graduate programs in more than 100 disciplinary areas, the Graduate College pairs a tradition of excellence and innovation to foster a vibrant campus community of scholars. The graduate community is diverse and international in its composition and global in its impact. In addition to the work we do on campus, the Graduate College contributes to broader, national conversations about best practices in graduate education working closely with other institutions and organizations to improve the graduate experience and broaden participation in graduate education. Participation in the AAU PhD Education Initiative provides an opportunity to further our commitment to fostering a culture of student-centered doctoral education and diverse career pathways. Four academic departments that span STEM and the Humanities/Arts are participating in the initiative: English, History, Mathematics, and Physics. Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, dean of the Graduate College, serves as the university project leader.

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University of Iowa

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa Graduate College’s participation in the AAU pilot builds on its history of fostering diverse career outcomes for PhD students while investing energy and resources into data transparency and administrative assistance to ensure that new ideas are assessed, disseminated, and supported across campus. Participation in the initiative offers the next critical step forward to achieving scalable and transformational change. Four departments agreed to participate in the initiative—English, Mathematics, History, and Physics & Astronomy. These departments encompass a strategic selection of campus leaders and will engage multiple constituencies in landscape analyses, as well as subsequent implementation of action plans. Along with transparent PhD-focused data collection, the departments will tackle creation of program sub-tracks; local and national paid internships; alumni engagement; academic job training; course upgrades and format changes; and website optimization. The college also recently funded five other programs under Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge Grants . The goal of the grants is to prepare students for the knowledge economy, global challenges, and broader career options. These programs will incorporate innovations learned via the AAU’s inaugural initiative. John C. Keller, associate provost for graduate and professional education and dean of the Graduate College, serves as the institution’s project leader and as an advisory board member for the AAU PhD Education Initiative.

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University of Missouri Campus

University of Missouri

With more than 6,000 graduate students and 150 degree programs, the University of Missouri’s flagship campus is one of only a handful of institutions in the country that combines the hands-on learning expertise of a land-grant university with the high-tech laboratories and world-class discoveries of a state research institute. For this project, the departments of chemistry, English and communication have committed to create a departmental culture where diverse career paths for PhD graduates are visible, viable and valued. This rare combination of STEM, humanities and social science departments will bring new perspectives to making a culture change in graduate education. The departmental teams, with support from campus leadership, will examine recent initiatives that have improved the graduate student experience and explore areas for growth that foster career success in and outside of the academy. Some initiatives include: bringing recent doctoral graduates back to campus to talk with students about their career paths and how their graduate program prepared them; reviewing how current programs are preparing graduate students in the humanities and social science fields for job opportunities; and studying how a mentoring program has helped graduate students achieve their educational and professional goals. This project will enhance Mizzou’s work in guiding, mentoring and preparing graduate students for success as future thought leaders and scholars. Jeni Hart, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate studies, serves as the project leader.

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UT Austin Campus

University of Texas at Austin

Creating student-centered communities that support diverse careers is among the top priorities for the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, the university is planning a comprehensive, campus-wide effort to improve graduate education. Through its participation in the AAU PhD Education Initiative, UT Austin seeks to build upon the university’s existing efforts, further its collaborations, and align its strategies for enhancing graduate education with best practices and national trends. Over the course of the pilot project, the departments of Chemistry and Neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences, and the departments of American Studies and History in the College of Liberal Arts will explore cultural changes and develop innovative approaches and programming to support career diversity. These four departments are committed to the project goals and will help to further identify areas for collaboration, synergies and alignment among other departments and units on campus. In addition, university leadership and the data transparency team are committed to collecting and providing more accurate data on graduate education for current and prospective students, faculty members, administrators and other stakeholders. The project leadership team represents offices from across the campus that have endorsed the project and committed their time and resources to ensuring project success. UT Austin’s participation in the AAU initiative is led by Daina Ramey Berry, associate dean of The Graduate School.

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University of Virginia Campus

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is an iconic public institution of higher education, boasting nationally ranked schools and programs, diverse and distinguished faculty, a major academic medical center and proud history as a renowned research university. The University’s Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs is dedicated to creating a University-wide focus on graduate education and postdoctoral training by establishing good communication and working relationships with graduate schools, departments, and graduate students. They collaborate on efforts to develop intellectually stimulating environments for research, teaching, and service and to recruit, mentor, retain, and graduate a talented and diverse community of graduate students. UVA believes a successful graduate experience relies on high-quality faculty, competitive financial support, and opportunities for professional and career development, as evidenced by PhD Plus and participation in the AAU PhD Education Initiative, as well as inclusion in the University’s most recent strategic plan, the 2030 Plan . Over the course of the three-year pilot project of the AAU PhD Education Initiative, the departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, English, and Religious Studies will examine current practices and launch their own programming aligned with the project’s larger goals. Archie Holmes, vice provost for academic affairs, serves as the project leader for UVA’s participation in the initiative.

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