PhDs More Employable
December 3, 1999
The University of Texas has created a Professional Development Program that offers students for-credit courses, unlike most departments and graduate schools that offer only informal seminars. In an effort to give their students an edge in the tough job market, the courses focus on improving the communication skills of graduate students.
The program grew out of the university's participation in the national project known as Preparing Future Faculty where grants from the Pew Charitable Trust allow participating universities to offer graduate students a taste of teaching and service at different kinds of institutions.
The 13 courses offered by the Texas program include professional writing and speaking, academic and professional consulting, teaching methods, and professional ethics. The courses are interdisciplinary, forcing students to communicate to a wide audience.
The program has drawn mixed reviews, with many advisors and faculty noting that time in class means fewer hours spent on laboratory research. However, students felt that participation in the Professional Development Program helped to round out their education.
Further discussion of this issue appears in the October 8, 1999 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.