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Science PhD Career Preferences: Levels, Changes, and Advisor Encouragement

Figure 3

Change in the relative attractiveness of careers over time (respondents in the late stage of the PhD).

Respondents were asked how certain they were at the time of beginning the PhD program to pursue each career. Similarly, respondents were asked how attractive they found each career at the time of the survey. For each of the two points in time, we coded which career received the highest rating (ties possible). Positive numbers in Figure 3 show the share of respondents who gave the highest rating to a particular career at the time of the survey but not when starting the PhD (i.e., the relative attractiveness of that particular career increased). Negative numbers show the share of respondents who gave the highest rating when starting the PhD but not at the time of the survey (i.e., the relative attractiveness decreased). For example, the relative attractiveness of a faculty research career increased over the course of the program for 8.7% of life sciences PhD students but decreased for 18.3% of life sciences PhD students. The net effect is a decrease in the share of students who rate the faculty career as most attractive by 9.6 percentage points.

Figure 3