Skip to main content

Special Considerations for Graduate Students

K-12 Education

The main NCA teaching and educational institution industry page provides a helpful introduction to careers in teaching in K-12, so make sure to read that, too. Here are some additional considerations for graduate students considering a career teaching K-12.

Gain Experience

For graduate students interested in teaching primary or secondary school, it is helpful to gain experience teaching and working with the age group one intends to teach. Some ways that graduate students gain this kind of experience include tutoring high school students in a school subject area or for SAT prep, teaching middle school students in a summer academic enrichment program, or doing science outreach activities at a school or museum.

Research the Field

Hone your understanding of pedagogy and student development through reading about the profession and speaking with educators. Professional associations such as the Association for American Educators and the National Education Association contain news about the field as well as resources for teachers and are a great place to start your research. See the main NCA teaching and educational institutions page for more tips on preparing for a career in K-12 teaching

Common Career Directions for PhDs

Higher Education Administration

The main NCA teaching and educational institutions industry page provides a helpful introduction to careers in higher education administration for all students, so make sure to read that, too. Here are some additional considerations for graduate students considering a career in higher education administration.

Research

The term “higher education administration” can refer to a broad range of roles within a college or university, including student-facing roles such as academic advisers or program managers in study abroad offices, as well as roles related to the functioning of the institution that don’t involve producing research or working with students directly such as directors of internal assessment projects or managers of departmental finances.

So, if you are considering a career in higher education administration, an important first step is getting a lay of the land in order to determine where your skills and interests will find a good fit. You can learn a great deal about higher education administration by reading college and university websites as well as by analyzing job descriptions. There are also many professional organizations, including the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and the Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education (NASPA), for example, whose websites contain articles and resources that help you learn about the field.  

Get Connected

Another great way of researching career paths within higher education administration is through informational interviews with administrators. As a graduate student, it is likely that you already know higher education administrators. To meet more people working in the field, join LinkedIn groups including the Northwestern University Alumni group, and meet alumni through our.northwestern.edu.

Gain Experience

Developing experience outside of your research is essential if you are interested in working in higher education administration. Working with student groups, on projects within your academic program, and as an intern or part-time worker in an office on campus are all ways to gain relevant experience. Teaching and mentoring students will also be valuable experience for student-facing administrative roles. 

Common Career Directions for PhDs