Duke OPTIONS is designed to support the professional development of Duke Ph.D. students by allowing them to plan their professional development activities throughout their graduate program. Duke OPTIONS provides suggestions for students to develop in six key competencies across the three stages of a Ph.D. program.
Below you'll find information on choosing the right stage, reasons you might opt-in to Career Center access in your OPTIONS profile, definitions of OPTIONS terms, and the research goals associated with the Duke OPTIONS tool as well as the funding sources and development team.
For questions about Duke OPTIONS, contact The Graduate School's professional development team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your recommendations for additional suggestions to develop the six key competencies. Share your ideas here!
If you have an upcoming appointment with a Graduate Career Counselor, you may want to check the box to allow Career Center access to your My Map. During your advising appointment, you can share the plans you've already made with your counselor and work together to add custom waypoints that will help you reach your professional development goals. Graduate School staff focused on professional development, including the Assistant Dean for Professional Development and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, have access to this information as site administrators.
Not sure what a term used in Duke OPTIONS means? Here's a quick overview of the most important terms.
The Road Map provides multiple ways to help you identify your professional destination and reach it. You can tailor the information from the Road Map to your particular goals and interests, and map your route accordingly.
My Map includes the paths you want to explore en route to your destination. It includes customized waypoints along your journey as well as waypoints based on suggestions the tool provides.
The Graduate School has identified six key competencies that all Ph.D. students should develop to succeed in the professional community. These are based on research by Poock (2001) and expanded to recognize Duke's emphasis on scholarly integrity.
- Teaching & Mentoring: the ability to facilitate the learning of others in a variety of settings
- Communication: the ability to use written and oral communication effectively in academic and professional settings
- Professional Adaptability: the capability to use theory and technical skills in actual practice; the ability to anticipate and accommodate changes important to one’s profession
- Leadership: the ability to direct and manage human and other resources
- Self-Awareness: the ability to honestly assess one's interests, abilities, and values and, based on this assessment, to make wise professional and personal decisions
- Professionalism & Scholarly Integrity: familiarity with the norms and standards of a specific discipline; the ability to behave in a way that upholds those norms and standards
The stages are based on the 2011 Duke University Graduate School Report of the Graduate Career and Professional Development Advisory Committee.
|Stage||Advisory Committee Description||OPTIONS approach||Timeframe|
|1||Transitioning to graduate school||Building awareness||Year 1|
|2||Developing teaching, research, and scholarship||Developing skills||Years 2-4|
|3||Entering the professional community||Documenting experiences||Final 12-18 months|
The questions posed in each competency raise key issues for Ph.D. students in their professional development. In five of the competencies, you should find that all the questions are applicable to nearly every Ph.D. student. In Teaching and Mentoring, you'll find questions tailored to your plans for teaching as part of your Ph.D. studies. In that competency, you should choose only the questions that are relevant to your interests and plans.
You can find multiple ways to address the questions with the suggestions provided in Duke OPTIONS. The tool is designed so that you can select the suggestions that best align with your goals, interests, and level of time commitment available to pursue them. In general, suggestions are ordered from most local (your department or program) to broadest (including regional, national, and online resources), and from lowest level of commitment (a single workshop) to highest level of commitment (a course, program, or academic certificate).
Waypoints help you stay on your route. By adding a suggestion to My Map, you will automatically add the waypoints you'll need to stay on course. You can edit the waypoint text, choose a target completion date for each waypoint, and mark each waypoint as completed when you're done. We also encourage you to add custom waypoints for important academic milestones (i.e., prelims, defense, annual meetings of your professional organization) as well as personal plans that may impact your professional development activities. You can export your plan to your calendaring software or to a .csv file.
The descriptions below can help you assess the right stage for you. It’s quite possible that you may be at different stages in different competencies, and that’s just fine. It’s easy to change your stage to explore ways to develop that competency more fully.
You should choose Stage 1 if one of these phrases describes you:
- I’m in my first year of my Ph.D. program, or
- I’m just getting started in my professional development. I want to build awareness of the resources available to me, or
- I’m beginning to explore the career options available to someone with a Ph.D. in my field
You should choose Stage 2 if one of these phrases describes you:
- I’m in years 2-4 of my Ph.D. program, or
- I’m ready to build skills and experiences that will prepare me for a successful transition to professional life, or
- I’ve begun narrowing my career options and have identified several that I’d like to explore more deeply
You should choose Stage 3 if one of these phrases describes you:
- I’m planning to defend in 12-18 months, or
- My focus has shifted from skill-building to documenting the experiences I’ve had in application materials, or
- I’ve narrowed my career goals down to two or three options, and I’m ready to think about applying for jobs
In addition to sharing information with Ph.D. students to support their professional development goals, Duke OPTIONS aims to collect data on tool use by prospective and enrolled students to investigate two research questions:
- To what extent does Duke OPTIONS affect The Graduate School’s recruiting and admissions numbers across all student groups, including underrepresented groups?
- What is the impact of involvement in professional development programs on persistence and completion rates among matriculants?
Data collected will only be used to make comparisons in the aggregate; individually identifying information will not be considered in answering these research questions. Learn more about the research goals.
Duke OPTIONS is available through a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. The content and the code are protected by this license. Please credit any use or adaptation to Duke University Graduate School.
We gratefully acknowledge support from the Council of Graduate Schools ETS/CGS Award for Innovation in Promoting Success in Graduate Education: From Admissions through Completion to fund the development of Duke OPTIONS (Online Professional development Tool for Individual OpportuNitieS). Matching funds were provided by Duke Graduate School.
Paula D. McClain, Principal Investigator, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Melissa Bostrom, Co-PI, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development
Hugh Crumley, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
John Zhu, Senior Public Affairs Officer and Communications Strategist
Jacqueline Looney, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Associate Vice Provost for Academic Diversity
J. Alan Kendrick, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development
Brad L. Teague, Assistant Dean and Director, English for International Students
Francisco Ramos, Assistant Dean for Assessment and Evaluation
Pakis Bessias, IT Manager
Iryna Merenbloom, Assistant Dean for Finance
Duke University. (2011). Graduate School Report of the Graduate Career and Professional Development Advisory Committee.
Poock, M. C. (2001). A model for integrating professional development in graduate education. College Student Journal, 35(3), 345-352