The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) May 29 released a report titled “Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century.” It envisions a graduate STEM education that shifts its focus from the needs of institutions and the research enterprise to one that is more student-centered, as emphasized in an editorial by committee chair Alan Leshner in Science.
The committee was charged with conducting an analysis of graduate education and career needs, identifying strategies to improve alignment of training with prospective employment, providing information around career paths, looking at new training models, and creating national goals for graduate STEM education. Along with calls for career outcome data collection and transparency, quality mentoring, creating an inclusive environment, and a focus on well-rounded professional development, the report included recommendations for graduate students, a list of core competencies for Master’s and PhD education, and a description of the ideal graduate student program. Many of the recommendations align with the comments the AAMC provided in its response to the committee’s call for community input.
Summarized in the report highlights, recommendations are directed at funding agencies, funding organizations, institutions, graduate schools, faculty members, professional societies, employers, and graduate students, and include:
- Rewarding effective teaching and mentoring
- Improving institutional support for teaching and mentoring
- Collecting and disseminating comprehensive national and institutional data on students and graduates
- Providing career exploration and preparation for graduate students
- Funding for research on graduate STEM education
- Ensuring diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments
- Developing a dynamic graduate STEM education system that adjusts to changes in the nature of science and engineering activity and of STEM careers
- Offering stronger support for graduate student mental health
The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Spencer Foundation. The report release follows the NASEM report release on a related topic, the Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers [see Washington Highlights, April 13].