Subjective and objective professional success of PhD holders in Germany

Start of the project: 01-Jan-2020 - End of the project: 31-Dec-2023

Germany is the OECD country with the second largest number of doctoral degrees per year, ranking only below the USA. A PhD title is generally a prerequisite for an academic career in Germany and also a valued qualification in the non-academic labor market. PhD holders play a fundamental role in technological and social processes of innovation. Companies rely on the availability of scientifically qualified employees, especially for their research and development departments. Because of this, a doctoral qualification often brings individual career advantages.

Previous research has often analyzed PhD holders’ professional success in terms of income, employment adequacy, occupational satisfaction, or promotion to leadership positions. Few studies have explored the associations between subjective and objective criteria of success or taken into account that professional success is a multidimensional construct. Within Germany, little is known about the contemporaneous circumstances and the career paths of recent PhD cohorts.

This project aims to fill the identified research gap by extending the understanding of the career trajectories and the professional success of recent PhD holders, examining a variety of disciplines and institutional contexts. Professional success will be analyzed on multiple levels and from various perspectives: We will analyze both subjective and objective criteria, conduct inter-individual and intra-individual comparisons, and address PhD holders employed inside and outside academia.

The research project will examine the following research questions:

  • What are the primary occupational destinations of PhD holders and how closely do intended fields of activity correspond to realized fields of activity?
  • Are there intersectional inequalities in scientific careers?
  • Do subjective expected utilities play a role in individual career decisions? To what extent do they account for gender differences in PhD holders’ career trajectories?
  • To what extent is income satisfaction among PhD holders influenced by social comparisons?
  • What are the key transformational events that reshape life goals over time – e.g. the birth of a child?
  • What proportion of PhD holders is inadequately employed and what are the associative factors?

The research project uses data from a panel survey of PhD holders from the 2014 examination cohort (Project: Careers of PhD Holders). In this German-wide study, the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) has observed the careers and life courses of several thousand PhD holders from all disciplines and all institutional contexts over a period of five years.

The project is carried out in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Christiane Gross and Lea Goldan from the University of Würzburg.

Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – 433155285.

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Publications

Laufbahnintentionen, Tätigkeitsbereiche und Berufserfolg von Promovierten.

Goldan, L., Jaksztat, S., & Gross, C. (2022).
Laufbahnintentionen, Tätigkeitsbereiche und Berufserfolg von Promovierten. Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung(1), 30-51.

Back out or hang on? An event history analysis of withdrawal from doctoral education in Germany.

Jaksztat, S., Neugebauer, M., & Brandt, G. (2021).
Back out or hang on? An event history analysis of withdrawal from doctoral education in Germany. Higher Education, 82, 937-958. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-021-00683-x
Presentations

Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany.

Jaksztat, S., Goldan, L., & Gross, C. (2021, Dezember).
Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany. Vortrag auf der Tagung (Re)connecting, (Re)building: Higher Education in Transformative Times, Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE), London, United Kingdom.

How does being tenured affect the job satisfaction of doctoral graduates?

Jaksztat, S. (2021, November).
How does being tenured affect the job satisfaction of doctoral graduates? Vortrag auf der Konferenz 4th International TREE Conference, Universität Bern.

Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany.

Jaksztat, S. (2021, September).
Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany. Vortrag auf der Tagung „Higher Education and the Labour Market“ (HELM), IAB und DZHW.

Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany.

Jaksztat, S., Goldan, L., & Gross, C. (2021, September).
Explaining employment sector choices of doctoral graduates in Germany. Vortrag auf dem Seminar DZHW Research Seminar, DZHW, Hannover.

Subjektiver und objektiver Berufserfolg von Promovierten in Deutschland - DFG-Projekt.

Jaksztat, S. (2021, Juni).
Subjektiver und objektiver Berufserfolg von Promovierten in Deutschland - DFG-Projekt. Vortrag im Rahmen des DZHW Nutzerbeirattreffens, Hannover, Deutschland.

Explaining employment sector choices among doctoral graduates in Germany.

Goldan, L., Jaksztat, S., & Gross, C. (2021, Juni).
Explaining employment sector choices among doctoral graduates in Germany. Vortrag im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe "Changing Academic Careers", DZHW, Universität Würzburg, LCSS, Universität Hannover, Hannover (online).

Berufswege nach der Promotion: Eine Frage subjektiver Nutzenerwartungen?

Jaksztat, S. (2020, November).
Berufswege nach der Promotion: Eine Frage subjektiver Nutzenerwartungen? Vortrag auf dem Workshop Perspektiven des Forschungsclusters Bildungserträge, DZHW, Hannover.

Subjektiver und objektiver Berufserfolg von Promovierten in Deutschland - Vorstellung des DFG-Projekts.

Jaksztat, S., & Goldan, L. (2020, November).
Subjektiver und objektiver Berufserfolg von Promovierten in Deutschland - Vorstellung des DFG-Projekts. Vortrag auf dem Workshop Perspektiven des Forschungsclusters Bildungserträge, DZHW, Hannover.

Back out or hang on? An Event history analysis of withdrawal from doctoral education in Germany.

Brandt, G., Jaksztat, S., & Neugebauer, M. (2020, November).
Back out or hang on? An Event history analysis of withdrawal from doctoral education in Germany. Vortrag auf der gemeinsamen Frühjahrstagung der DGS-Sektionen "Soziale Ungleichheit und Sozialstrukturanalyse" und "Bildung und Erziehung". Bamberg, Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.

Contact person

Steffen Jaksztat
Dr. Steffen Jaksztat +49 511 450670-144

External Contact

, Universität Würzburg
, Universität Würzburg

Funded by

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft