Transferable Skills: PhD

Transferable Skills: PhD

An article by Pat Cryer explaining the many transferable skills students gain whilst studying for a PhD (1997), and an article from 2004 explaining why many PhDs desert academia.

Read more on my PhD at

Nicely summarised by the University of Michigan:

Analysis & Problem-Solving
  • Define a problem and identify possible causes
  • Comprehend large amounts of information
  • Form and defend independent conclusions
  • Design an experiment, plan, or model that defines a problem, tests potential resolutions and implements a solution
Interpersonal & Leadership Skills
  • Facilitate group discussions or conduct meetings
  • Motivate others to complete projects (group or individual)
  • Respond appropriately to positive or negative feedback
  • Effectively mentor subordinates and/or peers
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Teach skills or concepts to others
  • Navigate complex bureaucratic environments
Project Management & Organization
  • Manage a project or projects from beginning to end
  • Identify goals and/or tasks to be accomplished and a realistic timeline for completion
  • Prioritize tasks while anticipating potential problems
  • Maintain flexibility in the face of changing circumstances
Research & Information Management
  • Identify sources of information applicable to a given problem
  • Understand and synthesize large quantities of data
  • Design and analyze surveys
  • Develop organizing principles to effectively sort and evaluate data
Self-Management & Work Habits
  • Work effectively under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Comprehend new material and subject matter quickly
  • Work effectively with limited supervision
Written & Oral Communication
  • Prepare concise and logically-written materials
  • Organize and communicate ideas effectively in oral presentations to small and large groups
  • Write at all levels — brief abstract to book-length manuscript
  • Debate issues in a collegial manner and participate in group discussions
  • Use logical argument to persuade others
  • Explain complex or difficult concepts in basic terms and language
  • Write effective grant proposals

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