Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Disrupt and demystify the unwritten rules of graduate school

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Graduate school curriculum viewed as an iceberg.


  1. Smith, B. Mentoring At-Risk Students through the Hidden Curriculum of Higher Education (Lexington Books, 2013).

  2. Bernard, R. E. & Cooperdock, E. H. G. Nat. Geosci. 11, 292–295 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Dutt, K. Nat. Geosci. 13, 2–3 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Woolston, C. Nature 575, 403–406 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Evans, T., Bira, L., Gastelum, J. B., Todd Weiss, L. & Vanderford, N. L. Nat. Biotechnol. 36, 282–284 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chaudhary, V. B. & Berhe, A. A. PLOS Comput. Biol. 16, e1008210 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank A. Donaldson and C. Murphy, who helped us develop these discussions into a graduate-level discussion-based course that was offered for the first time in the autumn of 2020. The course focused on sharing experiences and developing strategies to navigate several unwritten rules of the hidden curriculum; course materials and metrics can be found at We also thank L. Scholz, T. Pico and J. Green for helpful feedback on earlier versions of this Correspondence. M.Z. was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (EAR-2046957).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jennifer Pensky.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pensky, J., Richardson, C., Serrano, A. et al. Disrupt and demystify the unwritten rules of graduate school. Nat. Geosci. 14, 538–539 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing