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Professional Development

Examples of the opportunities around campus for professional development that allow students to engage in activities that will enrich their potential for success. Some are formalized within the degree programs’ curricula. Others are offered by student organizations, department staff and U-M student services offices. By taking advantage of these opportunities, graduate students are better prepared to achieve career goals in academia and elsewhere.


The Department of Chemistry has a number of professional development activities to support their graduate students in a variety of career areas. CSIE | UM: Chemical Sciences at the Interface of Education, University of Michigan is an initiative designed to help prepare students for faculty positions. The U-M Chemistry Department pairs CSIE-UM participants (postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students) with faculty members working on revamping the curriculum, reworking laboratory instruction, exploring new approaches and technologies in pedagogy, and more. CPDO: Chemistry Professional Development Organization is a group of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in Chemistry and Chemistry-related fields that work together to enhance the professional development of students in the department. They develop programs and collect online resources within three broad areas related to professional development: career options exploration, professional skill development, and community and communication.

Earth and Environmental Sciences

GeoClub offers a venue for students to practice research talks, discuss field trips and provide a way for all those interested in earth science to discuss their personal, career and academic experiences in an informal environment. In addition to research and career experiences they organize most of the social events for the department and with their independent funds, provide undergraduates with financial assistance for textbooks, field trips expenses and equipment.

English Language and Literature

The English Language and Literature Department sponsors a group known as Jobseekers geared toward students in their 5th and 6th year but it is not exclusive to this population. This group meets once a month to prepare students for interviews at the Modern Language Association’s annual conference and the academic job market. The Jobseeker directors are available to meet with students individually as well. They offer students reimbursement for job preparation materials and interview travel funds. In addition, there are mock interviews with the two faculty members who serve as directors of the group. The directors vet their cover letters and resumes. After the MLA, they do mock job talks for students who were invited for second stage interviews during the winter term. The directors keep a report on the students’ interview progress.


Successful Scientific Writing is a one-credit course offered through the Graduate Summer Session in Epidemiology. While most of the one- and three-credit courses in the summer session are those typically provided in the graduate programs for this discipline, the goal of this course is for future professionals to “learn how to communicate the findings of their research and investigations more effectively and expedite publication of their manuscripts.” For more information about this course visit the Summer Session website.

Human Genetics

A variety of educational and clinical opportunities are integral to their genetic counselor training program. These include the Human Genetics Retreat which is held each fall. All faculty and students in the department participate in this annual weekend retreat. This annual event brings together the research and clinical sections, and focuses on events supporting both professional and personal development (e.g., grant review, poster presentations, career options). Alumni are included and the run a seminar.

Industrial and Operations Engineering

The curriculum for doctoral education in Industrial and Operations Engineering Department prepares graduates for research careers in academia, government, and the private sector. The three-course series (IOE 800, 801, 802), required for all IOE Ph.D. students, is a structured introduction to research opportunities, methods, and proposal writing. The 800 course includes writing an NSF Graduate Fellowship proposal as a required activity. All domestic students are encouraged to apply for the NSF Fellowship and many of their applications have been funded. Although international students are not eligible to apply for the fellowship, they still must complete the two-page NSF research proposal as a part of the 800 course.

Landscape Architecture

The School of Natural Resources and Environment offers a Landscape Architecture Job Shadowing Program for their Landscape Architecture students for 3-5 days during spring break.

Macromolecular Science and Engineering

TechCom 610: Dissertation, Dissertation Proposal, and Thesis Writing is a course open to all students, domestic and international, who are writing their dissertations, dissertation proposals, or theses. Topics include: writing guidelines and their scientific base for problem definition and literature review; argument structures for the discussion of problems criteria, methodology, results, and conclusions; selection and ordering of information; editing visual aids; and special grammatical problems. This course provides some group instruction and some individual instruction. Because the instructor and assistants work with students on their own dissertations, those who enroll must have draft material ready for discussion and revision. Students can take this course up to two times as the one free course available to them when they register as a Ph.D. candidate with MacroSE 995.


The department’s Comprehensive Faculty & Graduate Student Instructor Development Program provides its own in-house intensive training week followed by weekly teaching meetings and periodic classroom observations with feedback. Teachers have access to a set of fully developed classroom activities. This is an intensive course, designed and taught by faculty from Mathematics. Among the activities students value the most are the taping and critique sessions.

Microbiology and Immunology

The Immunology Journal Club (Immunology 815), held weekly, consists of informal presentations by students and fellows of journal articles or ongoing research in the presenter’s laboratory. This course is an informal way of preparing for preliminary exams. Students give three out of four presentations, and decide on the external speaker for one out of four presentations. Some faculty do attend these interactive sessions. The Virology Journal Club meets every two weeks.


Pharm 502: Introduction to Scientific Communication is a two-credit course that introduces graduate students to essential scientific communication skills. This begins with learning to search the literature over the Internet and ends with the challenges of writing an NRSA grant application and giving a short seminar. In-depth analysis of student writing and presentation skills is provided in class by the instructor, by other students working in small groups, as well as by guest scientists. Students participate in a mock study section to constructively evaluate each other’s grants.

Physics Graduate Student Symposium

The Physics Graduate Student Symposium, first offered in the summer of 2007, encourages interdisciplinary exploration and offers the opportunity to hone communication skills in the context of supportive peer group-peers who are not shy to offer relevant critique. It is planned and administered by students only. Last summer 22 students from Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy presented their work to audiences comprised of both graduate and undergraduate students.