Exchange September 2000
a Crossroads: The Future of Graduate Education at Emory
to develop a broader curriculum . . . to better prepare students
for non-academic career paths.
--Bryan Noe, Director of the Graduate Division of Biological
and Biomedical Sciences.
the curriculum to prepare students for non-academic careers could
be a gross mistake.
--Pam Hall, Director of Graduate Studies in Women's Studies
findings on Emory graduate students
Ledden completed a Ph.D. in English
in 1996 at Emory and is now a senior communications specialist
for McKinsey and Company, an international consulting firm. Ledden
recently agreed to be a mentor for a Woodrow Wilson Foundation
program to help humanities Ph.D.s find non-academic careers.
"I don't think doctoral programs need to broaden their focus.
English departments, at least, have plenty to do without trying
to teach business or business communications. They should, however,
do a better job in helping people who don't want traditional
teaching careers pursue other options by cultivating relationships
with non-academic employers and linking students with alumni
working outside academe. At a minimum, they should drop the active
antagonism some faculty feel towards business. Our company has
been reaching out to humanities departments at schools like Duke
and Vanderbilt. We even recruited at the South Atlantic Modern
Language Association meeting last year. But when I told a director
of graduate studies at Emory that we were looking to hire two
people and asked for his help contacting potential candidates,
his response was, `It's not the department's job to stock McKinsey's
shelves.' That was unfortunate. It closed a door."
Pilyugin completed a Ph.D. in math
in 1998 at Emory and is now an assistant professor of math and
liaison with applied science departments at the University of
"The narrowness of graduate training is absolutely necessary
to dig deep into your topic. I had always focused on pure math,
but a conversation about job markets with my adviser persuaded
me to get some additional training in biology before graduating.
That really turned things around and created many opportunities
for my job search. I do think students who want to pursue non-academic
careers should have some support, though. Perhaps university
career centers are the logical place to develop programs for
Anderson completed a Ph.D. in English in 1995 at Emory.
After three years of juggling teaching and a commuter marriage,
Anderson resigned from a tenure-track appointment at Longwood
College in Virginia to become a visiting assistant professor
at Spelman College and live with her husband and daughter in
"The depth of current Ph.D. programs is important for honing
research and critical skills, but graduate schools must provide
breadth as well. At Longwood, I was often called upon to teach
subjects far outside my area of specialization. But it's not
really the curriculum that needs changing as much as the admissions
process. Given the state of the job market these days, departments
everywhere need to be more reasonable about the number of students
they admit. Also, graduate mentors should be open to the possibility
that their students may, for one reason or another, decide to
pursue careers beyond academia." A.B.B.