Graduate students come to the University of Illinois to change their lives. While they are here, they learn exciting new things, engage in cutting-edge research, and take on leadership roles that transform their communities.
But what happens after they graduate? Knowing the answer to that question can help graduate programs tell their story in a more complete way, build stronger connection with alumni, align curriculum and co-curricular opportunities with skills their graduates will need, and show prospective students what the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can do for them.
Career outcomes data can be challenging to collect and hard to make sense of. To make that easier, the Graduate College has developed this Graduate Career Outcomes Toolkit. Below, you will find several tools you can use to understand your career outcomes for doctoral and master’s students, as well as ideas for how to use the data to support your program’s goals.
Graduate Career Outcomes Tools
The University offers two tools that faculty and staff can use to explore career outcomes at the graduate level.
Doctoral Career Outcomes
The Graduate College has acquired data on current careers for 11 years’ worth of doctoral alumni (2011-2021). The data includes all doctoral degrees conferred by the University (PhD, EdD, AMusD, JSD, AuD). A high-level overview of this data, supplemented by information from programs and from campus doctoral exit surveys, will be available in a public dashboard on the Graduate College website. A secured dashboard based on the original dataset, with more granular detail, is available by request to faculty and staff affiliated with graduate programs. The secure dashboard also includes access to individual-level data. Soon, the dashboard will also enable users to compare University of Illinois data with other similar institutions.
Master’s Career Outcomes
Since 2017, the Illini Success Initiative has collected “first destination” information from graduating students in on-campus Master’s programs. This data describes what graduating students plan to do immediately after graduation, including details about employment and further education. A secured data portal with Master's and Bachelor's data is available to faculty and staff at the university.
Using the Tools
Now that you have the data, what can you do with it? Below, find some suggestions for using the data to fuel your work with graduate programs.
Ask Questions to Understand Your Outcomes
Here are some questions to start with as you explore the dashboards and data portals:
- What range of careers do our alumni work in, and what can we learn from understanding the diversity of their careers?
- How many of our doctoral graduates work in higher education? What proportion are in tenure-stream roles?
- How do our doctoral alumni’s careers progress in their first 10 years? How, for example, do the types of positions and sectors differ between alumni in their first 3 years post-graduation and those further out?
- To what extent do our program’s curriculum and co-curricular activities prepare students for the career paths they pursue after graduation?
- What proportion of our master’s alumni go directly into doctoral programs?
- In what states are our alumni concentrated?
- What are some of the most surprising roles our alumni have ended up in?
Prompt Conversations About Program Goals and Outcomes
Career outcomes data can enrich the conversations and planning that happens within graduate programs. The data can play a valuable role in program review, faculty meetings, new student orientations, professional development seminars, and other contexts. It can also prompt conversations about how students are currently prepared for the range of careers they pursue and whether that preparation could be improved. Consider exploring the dashboard together during a faculty meeting, for example, to new insights about program goals and successes.
Tell the Story of Your Program and Its Alumni
The data can also help you both ground and enliven the stories you tell about your graduate program in newsletters, social media, or on your website. Within the Illini Success data portal, a section called Data Use Examples contains several infographics that show how you can use high-level data to provide a picture of your program’s outcomes.
Alumni are a powerful but often untapped resource for programs. Career outcomes data can help build and strengthen program connections with graduates. The doctoral-level data includes information about individual alumni, which can help you plan alumni panels or connect current students with interest in a particular employment sector. Both master’s and doctoral data includes employing organization information, which can be used to target corporate outreach and cultivate experiential learning programs and full-time employment prospects for current students.
Refine Your Own Data
Many graduate programs collect their own outcomes data through a variety of methods, from surveys to exit interviews to faculty reporting. How can the data sources above support or supplement your own efforts? Consider whether there are kinds of information not captured in your own data gathering or the data sources described above.
If you have questions about any of the information provided above, contact the Graduate College at firstname.lastname@example.org.