Graduate Professional Development Program Survey: Towards a National Strategy

University of British Columbia

General Information

Office responsible for graduate development programs:Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (additional units on campus who deliver graduate development programming include the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers, the Library Research Commons, the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication, the Wellness Centre, etc). Postdoctoral Fellows have unique programming offered through the Postdoctoral Fellows Office.
Contact name:Jacquelyn Brinkman
Name of program:Graduate Pathways to Success Program and
Social media accounts related to program:Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Social Media (@UBCGradSchool on Twitter and Facebook)
Who is responsible for updating information for websites?For the GPS program specifically, the Graduate Pathways to Success Manager and Assistant. For the community calendar, which includes GPS and partner events, our communications team.

Graduate Professional Development Programs

What sessions are available, in person or online? (workshops, webinars, blog, etc.) Most of our workshops are in person, although our office information sessions (Submitting your Thesis, Preparing for your Doctoral Exam) are offered in person and via webinar. We also offer webinars in collaboration with the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication and the Wellness Centre. We are moving our Statistics series to webinar this year. Several of the workshops offered via Mitacs are also now online.
Are there sessions specifically for international students?Not specifically through my program, but in collaboration with International House and the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers we’ve provided information sessions on careers and permanent residency.
Are there mentorship or internships opportunities included in the program?No. Although several graduate programs at UBC do offer internships as well as opportunities for senior students to mentor new students. UBC graduate students also participate in Mitacs internships.
What skills or competencies do the sessions focus on?Our workshops are all offered under these competencies: Graduate School Success, Self Management, Professional Effectiveness, Career Building, and Constructive Leadership. Integral to all is development in critical thinking, creativity, integrity, and a recognition of our global and societal responsibility.
List sessions by topic and identify those in highest demand.A list of our recent workshops may be found at . Most in demand over the past year have been Overcoming Impostor Syndrome, Scholarship and Award Opportunities, How to improve your academic writing habits (online), Foundations of Project Management I, Writing Effective E-mails (online), Time Management (online), Communicating your Research (online), and Breaking Patterns of Procrastination.
Who is eligible for sessions? (students, postdocs, alumni, etc.)Priority is given to UBC graduate students registered in the current academic session. However, if space permits, we open registration to recent graduate student alumni and postdoctoral fellows.
Are professional development programs mandatory for students to graduate; or are they part of a student-supervisor checklist?PD programs are not mandatory for students to graduate (although some specific UBC graduate programs, including NSERC CREATE training programs, have mandatory PD as part of their requirements resulting in students attending GPS workshops as part of those requirements). Yes, discussion of career and professional development planning is listed in the Expectations document for students and supervisors found at
Does the program offer academic credit or formal recognition (badges, certificates, etc.) to participants?We offer certificates of participation for some workshops (those offered via Mitacs) and by request (for students who have mandatory PD requirements as part of
Who develops and delivers the sessions? (graduate studies, other departments, students, professors, alumni, external organizations, etc.)A combination of staff and faculty in Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, staff, faculty, and students from other units at UBC as well as professional, external facilitators. Alumni also participate as panelists in various sessions.
How are the sessions promoted?On and . I send a weekly e-mail to graduate program staff and advisors on upcoming sessions (when the registration opens), promote the program at orientation and other events, and rely on word of mouth through past participants and other staff on campus.
How do participants register? (through a centralized system or a partner company)They register online at
Is there additional cost or fees for registrants?For some sessions but most are free.

Statistic Information

How many sessions run each year?60-70
How many staff members are involved in administering the central sessions?2
What are the registration capacities and participation rates? (per each session, total enrolment, breakdown in number of students/ postdocs/alumni, breakdown by faculty etc.)Varies from 24 to unlimited. Total # of attendances (not individuals) for 2016-17 Most sessions run at capacity Total enrolment for 2015-16, as an example, was 2496. This does not represent individuals (some attend multiple sessions). Breakdown by degree sought:
Masters - 1039
PhD, DMA - 1265
Graduate student (unknown) - 96
Postdocs, Research Assoc. (note, postdocs are served primarily through the Postdoctoral Fellows Office which puts on ~30 workshops a year) - 41
Undergraduate - 7
Faculty, Staff - 9
Unknown - 39
Total 2496

Breakdown by Faculty:



(Other) -Postdocs, staff, students from other insitutions, unknown


Faculty of Applied Science


Faculty of Arts


Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration


Faculty of Dentistry


Faculty of Education


Faculty of Forestry


Faculty of Graduate Studies-Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program


Faculty of Land and Food Systems


Faculty of Law


Faculty of Medicine


Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences


Faculty of Science




How is participation in sessions tracked? Online, exported to excel. Students sign in on-site. A master excel file is kept for all attendance as well as no shows.
Is there information available to measure the effectiveness of attending sessions and securing employment after graduation?Evaluations are completed at the end of each session by participants but they do not measure learning or employment outcomes.

Departmental Level

Do departments offer professional development programs internally? If so, which?Yes. Many.
Are there collaborative offerings between departments and the graduate professional development program office?Yes. As well as with other units on campus.

General Questions

Do you incorporate labor market information and outcomes into the development of specific components of graduate professional development programs? Yes, as does the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers in the sessions they offer for the GPS program.
Do you incorporate strategies for developing positive relationships with employers?Yes, in some workshops offered in collaboration with Mitacs and with the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers.
Is there any additional information you would like to share?We are in the process of working with our partners on campus to develop a centralized website for all of our professional development workshops, resources, and services. We are also hiring graduate students to work on improving our communication strategies.