Graduate Professional Development Program Design

Many graduate schools and postdoctoral programs are not very satisfied with their professional development programming. Perhaps, like them, you've said one of the following about your school's efforts:

  • We have limited or no FTEs to develop and implement our institution's initiatives.
  • Every year we find ourselves playing catch up to update existing programs and develop new ones.
  • We are spending lots of staff time in collaborative planning process, buy yielding few results.
  • Last minute cross-promotion of campus events is leading to low student engagement. 
Beyond The Tenure Track has helped other schools solve these issues. Here are two case studies from universities we've recently added.
Professional Development Program Design Case Studies
Case Study: New York University

Challenge: NYU aimed to create a strong and cohesive Professional Development program design in time to submit a proposal to the Mellon Foundation. Additionally, they wanted to effect a culture shift among humanities faculty members whereby they themselves start to see non-academic employment as a likely and legitimate career path for doctoral students.

Approach: BTTT designed core professional development components to cultivate humanities PhD students for applied careers. Recommended roles for humanities faculty and alumni to contribute to student professional development.

Result: Won $1.5M multi-year Mellon Foundation grant.

Timeframe: October - November 2018 (4 weeks)

Case Study: University of Tennessee - Knoxville


  • UTK struggled to strengthen their professional development programming for their graduate and professional student.
  • Various campus departments and organizations were working independently to provide programming; however, the information was dispersed without a clear guiding framework.

Approach: BTTT created a foundational model to organize existing programming. Guided campus partners to develop a strategic plan and create a joint curriculum with three original programs.


  • Saved the university approximately $47,000 and an estimated 1.5 years of staff time. Prior to working with Beyond the Tenure Track, UTK spent an estimated $76,800 for 2 years of collaborative, yet minimally productive planning meetings, rather than $30,000 for 3 months of results-based planning with us.
  • Created 3 original Signature Programs, leveraging existing capacity from various campus centers.
  • Redesigned New Student Orientation. 

Timeframe: March - May 2019 (3 months)

Receive a copy of Graduate Professional
Development Case Study Report
Administrator Praise for Our Work
"Our consultation with Beyond the Tenure Track helped us immeasurably in broadening and deepening our thinking about our project. As career academics, we needed help in identifying the core competencies that PhD holders bring to employment in other sectors, and Fatimah Williams provide us with invaluable guidance in that respect. She offered insights that aided us in conceptualizing the new courses in Public Humanities we plan to mount, and she creatively imagined a number of bold workshop formats in which to present a wide range of skills-building sessions. Moreover, she provided clear and persuasive language for our proposal itself. Working with her injected energy, focus, and hope into our grant-writing process and helped to ensure its success."
Deans Phillip Brian Harper & Carolyn Dinshaw

New York University

"The strategic planning workshop gave us direction and a process. After working with Beyond The Tenure Track, we have an organizing framework in which to generate and role out our programs, collaboration, and marketing as opposed to just having a long running list of ideas. Going forward we are empowered to apply our new professional development framework toward any competency areas we plan to address in the future. Our job now as a collective is to implement and assess these initiatives. Thank you for your support, insight, and encouragement to get this launched."
Deans Ernest L. Brothers & Dixie L. Thompson

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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