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AAU Sets Expectation for Data Transparency on Ph.D. Program Outcomes

September 20, 2017
 
 

Association of American University members institutions want more transparency when it comes to data on Ph.D. programs. Chief academic officers representing AAU campuses at their annual meeting last endorsed a statement calling on “all Ph.D. granting universities and their respective Ph.D. granting colleges, schools and departments, to make a commitment to providing prospective and current students with easily accessible information.” Such data should include student demographics, average time to finish a degree, financial support and career paths and outcomes both inside and outside academe, according to AAU. 

Member institutions "should commit to developing the infrastructure and institutional policies required to uniformly capture and make public such data,” reads the statement. 

Emily Miller, associate vice president for policy at AAU, said that her organization won’t necessarily be enforcing the commitment to data transparency, but that it now expects such a commitment from members. Data on who’s enrolling in graduate programs, what they’re doing while they’re there and where they go later on is crucial to having meaningful discussions about the future of graduate education, she said, noting that a number of institutions both inside and outside AAU have already taken steps toward transparency. 

The University of Michigan, for example, makes publicly available data on admissions, enrollment, funding, time to degree completion and completion rates, along with the results of a basic doctoral exit survey and job placement information. 

Calls for more information about how graduate students fare during their programs and after have increased in recent years, along with worries over the state of the academic job market. Some disciplinary organizations have even sought to provide Ph.D. program outcomes information on their own. The American Historical Association, for example, has tracked history Ph.D. recipients using publicly available information to paint its picture. Jim Grossman, executive director of the AHA, said of AAU’s pledge, “We’re thrilled that AAU institutions have committed themselves to collecting data more comprehensively and providing access to those data.”

 

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