Biology Leads the Way in Graduate School Transparency

I could not be prouder of my discipline than I am today, after reading about the movement for transparency in graduate school outcomes.

Anybody who cares enough to read my blog will know that I’ve gotten so desperate about the graduate school pyramid scheme that I actually welcomed republican efforts to defund it. And it has been truly disgusting to see universities’ la la I can’t hear you response to the issue over the past ten years or so. So I feel I ought to be just as loud about an effort to actually address it.

Not only are these institutions making a laudable effort to discover and share the truth about what happens to their students once they stop paying tuition or serving as cheap labor, but they’re starting with a believable baseline – that only 10% of life science PhDs get tenure-track jobs within 5 years of graduation. The only part of the article that veers into bullshit is at the end, when they say that of course there is no reason to reduce the number of PhD candidates, and the country cannot go wrong in creating more and more life science PhDs, apparently until every corner coffee shop has one behind the counter or … wait, that last bit wasn’t them, it was me. I sort of spin out of control on this topic.

Besides which, that last part doesn’t matter. Anybody educated enough to be considering a PhD knows how to compare the costs with the benefits, if only the data are out there. That’s one reason the data have not been put out there. So this is a tremendous step forward, both practically and morally, and I cannot applaud these ten institutions enough.

For those who want to send valentines, they are:

  • Johns Hopkins
  • The University of California at San Francisco
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • The University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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