Non-Academic Careers

Versatile PhD

VPhD is an online community of graduate students and postdocs interested in exploring career opportunities beyond academe.

A Ph.D. or master's degree can prepare you for a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. UC Davis Ph.D. and master’s students, and postdoctoral scholars have found successful and rewarding careers outside academia in publishing, public policy, online curriculum design, biotech, environmental design and planning, science writing, sustainable development, media and communications, events planning, performing arts, product management, health care services, and patent law. Our students and scholars work in non-profits, corporations, government and as consultants.

Job Search Steps

There are seven basic steps for preparing for and securing a non-academic career:

  1. Career planning and research
    1. Understanding transferable skills
    2. Completing an exercise to identify your transferable skills
  2. Job searching and networking
  3. Conducting an informational interview
  4. Developing application materials
    1. Converting your curriculum vitae (CV) to a resume
    2. Writing a cover letter
  5. Preparing for an interview
  6. Negotiating a position

Working with Recruiters


Whether you are just exploring the idea of careers beyond academia or you are actively conducting a job search, we have resources to assist you:

  • Our career advisers offer confidential one-to-one advising and can help with career planning, job search, development of application materials (resume and cover letter), interview preparation and negotiating a position.
  • We offer a variety of workshops, including effective communication for the job search, use of social media and developing a professional profile, the importance of and how to network effectively, career assessment, and other topics relevant to those exploring careers beyond academia. Check our calendar of events regularly for up-to-date information on times and locations.
  • You can explore our career library to read books and journal articles on all aspects of the career search.
  • Job search websites.
  • Connect with us on LinkedIn. Join the UC Davis Career Connections LinkedIn group for Master’s, PhDs and postdocs, with over 1,000 members.
  • Follow us on Facebook.

Additional Resources

  • Alternative Careers in Science: Leaving the Ivory Tower, by Cynthia Robbins-Roth
  • So What are you Going to do With That?, by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius
  • Power Ties: The International Student's Guide to Finding a Job in the United States, by Dan Beaudry
Online Career Resources for Social Sciences & Humanities
  • #Alt-academy - Explores unconventional or alternative academic careers for Humanities scholars.
  • Non-Academic Career Options for Ph.D.s in the Humanities and Social Sciences - Very useful information on career options in areas including Higher Education Administration, Non-Profits, Consulting, Government and more.
  • - For History Ph.D.'s leaving academia, but contains information of interest to anyone looking for careers beyond academia.
  • Art Historians - Creative career alternatives for art historians.
  • The Journeyman - A personal account of entering into and eventually leaving academia for a satisfying career.
  • Humanists@Work - a UC-wide initiative geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science MAs and PhDs interested in careers outside/alongside the academy administered by the Humanities Research Institute.
Online Career Resources for Natural & Physical Sciences