New Book Examines How PhDs Navigate Alternative Career Pathways

Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate, the newest volume in the Navigating Careers in Higher Education series, will be published March 15. The series utilizes an intersectional lens to examine and understand how faculty members and administrators navigate careers and their aspirations to succeed. Books in this series are open access.

About the Book

Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate is one of the first collections to explore PhD career versatility within higher education. The twenty-three contributors represent diverse disciplines, institution types, professional roles, and intersectional identities. Each thoughtful and personal essay explores firsthand what it means to remain in higher education, yet not in the traditional role of a professor. Topics include establishing new career paradigms, well-being and work-life balance, blended roles and identities, and professional work around advocacy and inclusion. Unifying the essays is the idea that career diversity is intertwined with other diversity discourse, yielding a broad-based but critical examination of careers in higher education administration.

Though the doctoral landscape continues to change, a self-determined, values-driven attitude remains essential. This book offers powerful insight into cultural and structural barriers that inhibit institutional transformation and obscure the real range of PhD futures. Frank about both challenges and opportunities, these essays reveal how letting go of “track” thinking opens a constellation of possibilities and many paths to meaningful work and a fulfilling life.

About the Editors

Karen Cardozo is the founder of Leap Here Consulting, providing consulting, coaching, and editing services for individuals and institutions since 2016. First trained in career services, she earned a master’s degree in higher education administration at Harvard and a PhD in literary studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She worked across the Five College Consortium before gaining tenure in interdisciplinary studies at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, then leading career development at Hollins and Northeastern universities. She has published intersectional feminist studies of culture, labor, science, trauma, and higher education in the American Studies JournalCritical SociologyJournal of Asian American StudiesPedagogyProfession, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

Katherine Kearns is the assistant vice provost for Student Development and director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for the University Graduate School at Indiana University Bloomington. She earned her PhD in ecology at the University of Georgia. She is a coeditor of the book Teaching as if Learning Matters: Pedagogies of Becoming by Next-Generation Faculty. Currently, she focuses on cultivating graduate student communities—especially for students with marginalized identities—that promote well-being and skill development in scholarly and creative activity, teaching, and preparation for careers in a variety of post-degree professions.

Shannan Palma is co-executive director of the Autistic Self-Reliance Support Network and vice president of continuing education for HER Academy. She earned her PhD in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University. Her research has been published in Marvels & Tales: The Journal of Fairy-tale Studies and various edited volumes. She has appeared on numerous panels advising graduate students on industry and higher education careers beyond the professoriate.

Advanced Praise

“Satisfying and impactful work for PhD holders can be found in a wide range of roles in today’s colleges and universities—teaching and learning, diversity programs, academic affairs, faculty development, communications, institutional research, and career coaching, to name a few. This book provides inspiration for those exploring non-faculty careers within academia. The authors of these first-person essays candidly describe their own journeys—from discovering new possibilities, to refashioning a professional identity, to thriving in a previously unimagined job. If you are expanding your view of what is possible, read this book for pragmatic advice and encouragement.” —Chris M. Golde, Career Coach for PhDs and Postdocs, Stanford Career Education

“This important book explores the ‘constellation of possibilities’ for PhDs within the higher education landscape, identifying not just the push away from faculty jobs, but also the pull toward work that can be joyful, flexible, and meaningful. Among its many powerful contributions, the collection reveals how these roles allow PhDs—who vary by academic discipline, race, gender, gender identity, class, and sexuality—to center values of equity and inclusion, creating communities of care in their workplaces. This is the rare book that offers hope as well as concrete approaches to creating a better life!” —Joya Misra, President, American Sociological Association

Too many doctoral students think their career choices are limited to a tenure-track job or leaving higher education. Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate makes clear that higher education depends on PhDs in myriad ways—in advising, in deans’ offices, in libraries, in DEI offices, and in many other functions. More importantly, the book offers advice that focuses not simply on the practicalities of plotting career paths, but also on the financial, family, emotional, and identity issues with which we all must wrestle when making choices about how to move consciously through our careers and our lives. Graduate schools should purchase multiple copies!”—Paula Krebs, Executive Director, Modern Language Association

“This book goes well beyond simply outlining career options for PhDs in higher education, providing substantive engagement with what those jobs look and feel like in a changing higher education landscape. Blending personal narrative and critical insight, the essays offer not only useful windows into particular kinds of work, but also new perspectives on living one’s values over the course of a nonlinear career.” —Derek Attig, Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development, Graduate College, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“Nothing teaches better than a story, and Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate is filled with good ones, and with good data, too. Career diversity lies at the center of this splendid book, and the many inventive storytellers in its pages show that ‘pracademia’ leads to lives both creative and satisfying. Academics of all stripes—inside and outside the academy—should read this book.” —Leonard Cassuto, coauthor of The New PhD: How to Build a Better Graduate Education

Read the Book

You can receive a 30% discount on Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering directly from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout. Our books are also available through your favorite hometown bookstore, preferred online retailer, or your local library.

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