Improving graduate education to support a branching career pipeline: recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences

CBE Life Sci Educ. 2011 Fall;10(3):239-49. doi: 10.1187/cbe.11-02-0013.


Today's doctoral programs continue to prepare students for a traditional academic career path despite the inadequate supply of research-focused faculty positions. We advocate for a broader doctoral curriculum that prepares trainees for a wide range of science-related career paths. In support of this argument, we describe data from our survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Midway through graduate training, UCSF students are already considering a broad range of career options, with one-third intending to pursue a non-research career path. To better support this branching career pipeline, we recommend that national standards for training and mentoring include emphasis on career planning and professional skills development to ensure the success of PhD-level scientists as they contribute to a broadly defined global scientific enterprise.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / education*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Career Choice*
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Demography
  • Education, Graduate / standards*
  • Education, Graduate / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Policy
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States