Explore career options through the stories of our alumni
How do you visualize your future after graduate school? Your graduate school experience has given you a solid foundation for advancing your career path, whether that career is as a faculty member or in a wide array of exciting opportunities in the private sector or in public service.
Your graduate degree and the experiences you’ve encountered throughout graduate school will add value to any organization you join. You will leave UW–Madison equipped with highly developed skills in writing, teaching, project management, analytical techniques, data collection, collaboration, and leadership – just to name a few.
UW–Madison alumni go on to a variety of successful careers across the academy, for-profit and non-profit sectors, industry, government, education, and more. Explore the variety of career paths open to you as a UW–Madison graduate by reading the success stories of some of our alumni and their advice for current graduate students below.
Careers in academic institutions of higher education, including colleges, universities, some medical centers, or free-standing research institutions where training occurs. Alumni in academia have worked as postdocs, professors, deans, and directors, while others have served in non-tenure track academic positions as researchers, curators, and more.
34% of PhD alumni report working as faculty members in higher education.* When taking into account all jobs in higher education, such as non-faculty research positions, postdocs, and other staff positions, half of PhD alumni reported working in higher education across these job types. This includes research universities as well as regional universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges and university systems.
Alumni in academia
Assistant Director, Residential Education at Montana State University Nora Smith earned her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at UW–Madison in 2004. She has worked in a variety of administrative and instructional roles in academia and now serves as Assistant Director for Residential Education at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
Native American Student Success Coordinator, University of Wisconsin System Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay is an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation from the Menominee Indian Reservation of Wisconsin. She attended UW–Madison as an undergraduate majoring in Sociology and American Indian Studies and continued to earn a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) in 2009.
Assistant Professor, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder Justin Brumbaugh earned a PhD in Biochemistry in 2011. After completing a postdoc in Boston, he is now an assistant professor in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder. There, Brumbaugh has worked to start his own lab, building and managing a team that applies stem cell biology to explore fundamental aspects of biology, development, and regenerative medicine.
- More careers in academia
Business and Industry
Alumni in business and industry
Senior Research Scientist, Ethical AI Team at Google Alex Hanna earned her PhD in Sociology in 2016. Her dissertation focused on the Machine-learning Protest Event Data System (MPEDS), which she developed to identify and code information about protests. Hanna is now a senior research scientist on Google's Ethical AI Team, which focuses on responsible artificial intelligence (AI) and decision-making systems. She talked with us about her work, the skills from graduate school that are useful, and the transition from academia to industry.
Sr. Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Exact Sciences Ángel earned a PhD in Microbiology in 2016. Now, as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist at Exact Sciences in Madison, Ángel is a liaison on regulatory affairs for his colleagues, providing strategic and technical advice for the development and commercialization of healthcare products.
Chief Scientific Officer, Riordan Technologies Jonathan J. Hernández earned a PhD in Physiology from UW–Madison in 2016. Throughout his career he has worked in both industry and academia researching human umbilical-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells to study the effect of those cells on treatment for autoimmune disorders.
- More careers in business and industry
Careers in any organization that operates to make a profit, including some industry research careers. Alumni in business and industry have had careers as chief technology offers, sociologists, plant breeders, investment managers, entrepreneurs, and more.
A quarter of PhD alumni report working in the business sector or at a variety of for-profit companies.*
Careers in any organization operated by federal, state, local, or foreign governments. Alumni in government have had served as researchers, directors, analysts, and more.
Just over 6% of PhD alumni report working for the U.S. federal government, including military positions.* Another 1 percent work for state or local government, and less than 1 percent work for a non-U.S. government.
Alumni in government
Director of Operations, Public Health Madison & Dane County Kate Austin Stanford earned her master of public affairs and master of public health degrees from UW–Madison in 2015. The dual degrees have made a perfect fit for Kate in her current role as Director of Operations at Public Health Madison & Dane County, a city-county agency that supports community health initiatives while also providing health services and environmental health information.
City Traffic Engineer, City of Madison Yang Tao has been with the City of Madison since 2006, and currently directs the staff and operations of the City’s Traffic Engineering Division. Yang obtained his PhD in Civil Engineering from UW–Madison with a minor in Business, and is a graduate of Madison’s Leadership Development Program.
Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
After earning her PhD in chemistry from UW–Madison in 1978, Buchanan went on to become the Deputy Director for Science and Technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
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Alumni in nonprofit organizations
Executive Director, FairShare CSA Coalition Carrie Sedlak earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UW–Madison in 2015. She earned bachelor’s degrees in geography and anthropology at the University of Denver. Following her undergraduate schooling, she went to work in Thailand as an environmental educator, where teaching a course on agroecology piqued her interest in food systems and community-supported agriculture (CSA).
Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Guerrero received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, and holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Nurse Practitioner for UW Organ and Tissue Donation As a DNP student who was also working at UW Organ and Tissue Donation as an organ procurement coordinator, Adam Schneider leveraged evidence-based strategies on organ donation to inform his team’s protocols, resulting in more viable organs from donors. He earned his DNP in 2017.
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Careers in organizations that do not operate to make a profit. Alumni in the nonprofit sector have had careers as artistic directors, analysts, program managers, nurses, and more.
6% of PhD alumni report working at a not-for-profit or NGO (non-governmental organization).*
Explore even more careers, including alumni careers in K-12 education and music performance.
2.1% of PhD alumni report working at a preschool, elementary, middle, or secondary school or in a school system.*
More alumni careers
Board Liaison and Strategic Initiatives at the Overture Center for the Arts; Founder and Executive Director of the LunART Festival Iva Ugrčić moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at UW–Madison, which she earned in 2017. While on campus, she also earned a minor in Business in the Arts from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the Wisconsin School of Business. She now serves in the Board Liaison and Strategic Initiatives role for the Overture Center for the Arts.
Principal Violinist for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago
Teddy Wiggins is a University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate from the School of Music, in violin performance. He is currently a co-concertmaster/principal violinist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training orchestra that develops musicianship and prepares musicians for professional careers.
4th Grade Teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Madison
Josie Guiney Igielski, a 4th grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Madison, Wisconsin, uses her UW–Madison graduate training to help students succeed. In 2014 she received the Milken Educator Award, an award which is only given to about 40 teachers in the nation each year.
- More alumni profiles across careers
UW–Madison alumni employment statistics are from the CGS Career Pathways project survey distributed by the UW–Madison Survey Center to PhD alumni in fall 2017. Alumni who were 3, 8, and 15 years out from graduation received the survey.