The UMass Amherst Graduate School created the Office of Professional Development (OPD) to help train graduate students in portable skills that are essential for success regardless of discipline of line of work. The OPD also introduces students to a broad range of career options, both inside and outside the academy.


All our doctorate and master’s recipients, regardless of field, should  have a level of accomplishment and professional preparation that will make them highly attractive to colleges and universities hiring faculty, industries  looking for scientists and engineers, businesses that need experts in management and finance, school systems needing teachers and administrators, government offices needing specialists in policy and economics…
-Report of the Joint Force on Strategic Oversight, p. 31

With this strategic goal in view, the Office of Professional Development cultivates and supports training in the following areas:

  • Networking
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teaching
  • Ethical conduct of research
  • Grant writing
  • Time management
  • Work/life balance
  • and more…

The OPD also promotes a full exploration of academic and non-academic career paths, including categories such as:

  • The professoriate, in a variety of settings 
  • Industry
  • Public Policy
  • Alt-ac (academic careers outside the professoriate)
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Technical communication
  • …among many others.

The OPD delivers training in varied modes, including presentations by industry executives, meet-and-greets with potential employers, progressive workshop series, group and individual coaching, and faculty-led round-table discussions.  The OPD works in close collaboration with academic deans and faculty, as well as a growing array of campus partners including the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development, the STEM Diversity Institute, the Institute for Social Science Research, the Data Management Group of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, the Institute for Cellular Engineering, the Office of Research and Engagement, and Graduate Women in STEM.


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