TRaCE McGill is a university-wide project that tracks the career outcomes and pathways of McGill PhD alumni who graduated between 2008 and 2018. Led by a team at Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and graduate student researchers, TRaCE McGill not only gathered statistical information on over 4,500 PhD graduates, but also interviewed over 300 of them across all faculties. TRaCE McGill’s focus on both quantitative and qualitative knowledge shows how a doctoral degree can lead to a multiplicity of successful, socially valuable, and personally fulfilling careers in a variety of sectors both inside and outside academia. As part of its legacy, TRaCE McGill is also building a mentoring community of PhD graduates who are committed to helping doctoral students and recent grads find their own career pathways.
TRaCE McGill’s integration of statistical data, narrative knowledge, and community building is unique in the world among PhD tracking projects.
By tracking and reporting on the career pathways of PhD graduates, by connecting PhDs inside and outside the academy, and by fostering exchanges of knowledge and knowhow among faculty, graduates, and students, TRaCE McGill aims to mobilize the learning, energy, and talents of PhD graduates for the benefit of the University and the grads themselves.
The statistics and stories gathered by TRaCE McGill will enable evidence-based and forward-looking change in graduate programs across the Faculties.
The website helps connect PhD graduates with other grads and current PhD students. The grads’ narratives can inspire other graduates as well as PhD students, allowing students and grads to reach out to those whose stories speak to their interests and aspirations.
TRaCE McGill has been running for three years. Its completion coincides with McGill’s Bicentennial and enables the University to showcase how McGill PhD grads are contributing to social and economic advancement and helping to meet global challenges in the 21st century.
Stage 1: Survey of PhD Graduates, Summer 2019
PhDs who graduated between 2008 and 2018 were invited to complete a survey that focused on where they are now and what they are doing in their careers. All responses to the survey are kept confidential and are reported only in anonymized, aggregate form.
Stage 2: Data-gathering from the Web, Fall 2019
TRaCE McGill student researchers worked to complete the statistical picture of PhD career outcomes by searching publicly accessible websites. Access our findings for Stages 1 and 2 here.
Stage 3: Interviewing the Grads and Sharing their Stories, February 2020-April 2021
Student researchers reached out to grads from their Faculties to invite them to share their stories with the McGill community. With the consent of the interviewee, interviews were recorded. Selections from the interviews were transcribed, edited for length, approved by the grad for publication, and posted on the TRaCE McGill website. Browse our archive of narratives to hear grads reflect on graduate school, their career paths, and their advice to current students.
Stage 4: Bringing the Grads back to McGill, October 2020-ongoing
TRaCE McGill has brought back a range of PhD grads from across faculties and career paths as speakers and mentors. TRaCE McGill’s Career Pathways for PhDs event series partners with graduate student associations and PGSS to offer events which showcase for in-program graduate students the multiple career pathways available to PhDs after graduation. If you are interested in inviting a PhD grad as a speaker, please reach out to trace [at] mcgill.ca.
TRaCE McGill is building on two McGill-led national projects—the TRaCE pilot (2015-2016) and TRaCE 2.0 (2017-2019). The first focused on humanities graduates; the second tracked PhDs (and DMus and MFA grads) in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. The pilot tracked 2,800 humanities PhD grads from across Canada and interviewed 300 graduates. TRaCE 2.0 tracked 1,400 grads from across the country and conducted interviews with 150. The interviews have provided the basis for a large archive of stories about PhD grads’ educational and professional careers. The two preliminary projects have been featured in national publications and have enabled the TRaCE team to develop and fine-tune its methodology. Full reports on TRaCE pilot and TRaCE 2.0 are available here.