PhDs fit for industry and commerce, too


You continue to lament the shortcomings of PhD training (see, for example, Nature 472, 259–260; 2011 and Nature 486, 304; 2012) but overlook the encouraging results of reforms to PhD programmes in many European countries.

Programmes in the region have modernized, expanding the traditional apprenticeship model in recognition of the fact that most new PhDs are not destined for academia. Industry and commerce are already welcoming this new batch of graduates.

Training has been broadened to develop such skills as scientific and lay presentation, teaching, grant application, time management, linguistic abilities and networking. These complement the rigour acquired in setting up and completing a three-year research project, and are valuable in any job that demands creative synthesis and the use of initiative, whether inside or outside academia. Flying in the face of convention, students can delegate some of their PhD work and learn how to become managers.

These reforms are being promoted by the European Commission, the European Universities Association Council for Doctoral Education (see, for example, Nature 468, 125; 2010 and Nature 482, 557–559; 2012) and by ORPHEUS, an independent organization that represents more than 100 European biomedical and medical faculties (

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Correspondence to Michael Mulvany.

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Mulvany, M., Lackovic, Z. PhDs fit for industry and commerce, too. Nature 488, 591 (2012).

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