As students and postdoc navigate your program offerings, you may find it useful to track how they participate, how their participation impacts future feelings and decisions, and their long term-career outcomes.
Many of our BEST institutions publish data about their graduate programs. Information about graduate students usually includes demographics, completion rates, and enrollment statistics. Other data includes employment by sector and/or location, demographics, and job satisfaction. Below is a list of BEST institutions that make this information available on their website. Click on the links below to see specifics about each institution.
- Michigan State University
- University of California, Irvine
- University of California, San Francisco
- University of North Carolina
- University of Massachusetts Medical School
- University of Rochester
- Wayne State University
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- Virginia Tech
If your school (BEST and nonBEST) would like to be added to this list please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to use collected data
- Offer new or prospective students greater transparency in training and career outcomes
- Track alumni so they might help with professional development opportunities for students and postdocs
- Identify career mentors for current doctoral students
- Facilitate continuous program improvements and academic program review
- Support training grant application needs and accreditation requirements
Types of Data Collection Tools
Programs often have data stored in disparate locations: human resources, academic departments, the graduate school office, a postdoc office, digital individual development plans, survey systems, and external databases such as LinkedIn. Data structures can integrate content from all of these sources to provide one central location for information on pre- and post-graduate progress. For example, Wayne State University uses Salesforce to merge data from all of these sources. Moreover, they scour the internet for additional information on alumni and email alumni an annual census to ensure they have up-to-date data. Data are used for internal decisions, external reports, and are showcased on their data dashboard.
Student and Postdoc generated databases:
Trainee generated databases include the students and postdocs in data collection and data use. For example, Michigan State University has a web-based tool where students log the time spent on activities, the type of activities, and add notes as to the usefulness of an activity. Activities include formal BEST opportunities as well as any career development efforts a student may initiate on her own. Mentors are invited to also add activities to the student’s log, as are externship providers. A student gets a 360-degree view of his/her development activities, whole programs gather data on how individual experiences relate to career outcomes.
Qualitative Case Studies:
Case studies are in-depth interviews with a few program participants. These interviews can be conducted by trained qualitative researchers, program staff, or through participant self-report and capture nuanced information missing from quantitative data. The University of California Davis uses the success case approach to better understand program impact and participant success. Interviews with successful participants can reveal patterns with only a dozen or so cases.
Data collection can be as simple as an annual survey or as involved as an integrated data system or time-intensive case study project. Each school will have different needs, resources, students and cultures, and thus different participant tracking processes. Regardless of your approach, your program and trainees will benefit from data on career outcomes and program strengths.