Life after (and during) a PhD – a project designed to change expectations & the culture of the academy

Published: 12 June 2019

For the past four years a cross-Canada project developed by McGill University, TRaCE, has been gathering stories and data about life after (and during) a humanities PhD.

The goal?

To shift the expectations of PhD students away from a single-minded focus on a future in academe (since only about 30% will end up with tenure-track jobs) and give them a sense of a range of satisfying possible careers.

The results?

Data from 4,200 people who graduated with PhDs from across the country about a range of different career paths; stories and reflections from 450 of the graduates themselves about the path they chose; connections between former and current PhD students across the country; and a new activist group formed by the PhD students across the country who have being carrying out the research.

Why cover this story now?

Because, over the next 3 years, the research is both broadening . . . and focusing.

Broadening, by recounting the experience of PhD students from all faculties. Focusing by looking at PhD students from McGill, which, as it approaches its bicentennial, and in recognition of a changing job market, an Individual Development Program has been set in place to encourage PhD students to reflect on where they are going and develop skills needed for what they want to do – whether it’s inside the academy or outside.

Available for interviews

Paul Yachnin, Director, TRaCE Project, McGill University

Paul Yachnin is also the Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies in the Department of English at McGill University.

paul.yachnin [at]

Picture credit: Paul Yachnin, director of the TRaCE project focused on gathering stories and data about life after (and during) a humanities PhD in Canadian universities.

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