Section 6 Conclusions

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This paper has highlighted several findings relevant for understanding recent doctoral graduating classes and for policy relevant research. Slightly more than a quarter of 2005 doctorate graduates (about 27%)1 moved out of Canada upon completion of their degree and many still resided in the United States two years after graduation. However, 24% of those who moved to the United States after graduation in 2005 had returned to Canada by 2007, and many others were still planning to return.

Previous research, (King, Eisl-Culkin and Desjardins, 2008), showed that moving to the United States is often linked to postdoctoral education. Perhaps this is why the life sciences accounted for such a large share of movers, since graduates from this field were the most likely to have plans for postdoctoral studies.

Data from the National Graduates Survey (NGS) show that doctoral graduates' employment outcomes vary across fields of study. Humanities graduates, for example, showed higher rates of both unemployment and part-time employment compared to graduates in other fields. However, those who were employed had a median income that was comparable to graduates from other fields of study.

Most graduates found employment in educational services, though graduates from some fields of study were found in a number of different industries. Engineering graduates were the most diverse, with significant proportions working in manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical services, and public administration as well.

The report shows that the skill set of doctorate graduates is not being fully utilized as nearly one third of graduates did not require a doctoral degree for the job they were currently doing. That being said, this finding applies to graduates only two years following graduation. It might be expected that with career progression, these doctorate holders may see the education-job skills match improve over time. This has implications for the economy and for the education choices that individuals are making.

Finally, this paper has shown that linking the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and the NGS has increased the value of both of these surveys. The addition of information on postdoctoral education to the NGS helps to explain why there is not a larger difference observed in the incomes of master's and doctorate graduates two years after graduation. And data from the NGS has shown that graduates' expectations from SED are a poor approximation of actual outcomes as reported in the NGS, which in many cases, were better than expected. These findings are important for understanding previous research conducted with the SED and NGS and for continued improvements in education data.


  1. See Box 1.
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