Where Knowledge is Produced

Cities where research PhD's were awarded in 2013
Cities where research PhD’s were awarded in 2013

A favorite interview question for PhD program applicants goes as follows: “How do you feel about the idea of transitioning from a knowledge consumer to a knowledge producer?”  Because when you strip research doctoral programs down to their core mission,  they exist to produce not only knowledge producers, but new knowledge itself.

Some applicants have thought about this before, and others have not.  Whether or not they’ve considered the question previously, good conversation generally flows, particularly when chatting with the better applicants.

There are several ways to quantify the level of knowledge production.  One way is to simply count the number of research PhD’s that are produced.  In 2013, over 60,000 research PhD’s were awarded in the US. The map above shows PhD production by city in the mainland US.  These cities, collectively, are where the engines of knowledge production operate in the country.

Generally, when you count things that happen in cities, the counts in larger cities are higher than in smaller cities simply because more things happen where more people live and work.

Careful inspection shows that isn’t necessarily the case here.  Yes, southern California and the New York city areas produce a lot of knowledge, and have a lot of people.  But as you move across the map there are smaller cities that produce the same or even more PhD’s then nearby large cities.  For example, Boulder CO just north of Denver; Columbia MO sandwiched between the larger Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas; Austin TX west of nearby Houston, and Gainesville FL north of Miami.  Many more PhD’s are awarded in Cambridge MA than in Boston.

But the city producing the most PhD’s is Minneapolis MN, where over 2400 research PhD’s awarded in 2013.  That number is roughly divisible in thirds by the non-profit University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, and two for-profit schools, Capella and Walden Universities.

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3 Tips for your Grad School Interview

For the lucky grad school applicants to have survived the first cut, interview season is about to move into full swing. If you’ve received an offer to visit, take these three tips to heart as you prepare for the interview.

1. Do your homework before arriving.

Get a strong sense of how the program is structured and where its expertise lays. Study the faculty and their research interests, particularly those who interview you. You’ll be expected to demonstrate why that program is a good fit for your interests.  Put it this way: About the worst question you can ask a faculty member who interviews you is, “So, tell me about your research.”

2. Be authentic and professional.

The purpose of the interview is to evaluate your fit within the program.  And that evaluation works in both directions. Recognize that everybody who is interviewing you has their BS detectors set at maximal sensitivity. The evaluation continues through every function on the schedule, from the time you meet the first representative of the program, until you leave.  Be yourself, and your credentials and accomplishments will stand out, too.

3. Don’t burn any bridges.

No matter what happens next, you’ve just gone through a great networking event, meeting many people who might one day become influential in your career.  Go home and send off some real thank you cards, the types made out of paper and that need stamps.  If you’re asked for follow-up information, or even get an offer of admission but remain undecided or even plan to decline, respond promptly.  Avoid cat and mouse games.


College Graduates Prefer City Cores

The Times has an interesting article discussing how college graduates are choosing to live in the cores of large urban areas.  Within this migration are those who become graduate students.  Among the several implications is a new value proposition that graduate programs in these urban areas can offer recruits. Increasingly vibrant live, study, play communities.  This is a good trend that bodes well for these graduate institutions and their metropolitan areas.


Gradschoolmatch v2 upgrade improves functionality while adding over 224,000 student users


Our v2 Upgrade comes  with tens of thousands of honor roll student users, listed here by state.
Our v2 upgrade brings in tens of thousands of Golden Key honor roll student users, shown here as density per state.

We’ve released a major upgrade today of our web platform, termed v2. Finding grad programs or prospective students has never been more simple or powerful.

Our mission is to make it simple and free for students to find their best degree options, while giving programs a cost-effective tool to discover and reach-out to the best prospects in their fields. Our goal is to become the go to resource for students to find graduate programs, and for graduate programs to find students…a world-wide, online gradschool fair that runs around the clock.

The upgrades include:

  • Over 224,000 searchable and matchable student users who use the site for free; the vast majority of whom are honor society members, certified by their University registrar in the top 15% of their class.
  • Searchable/matchable listings of ~38,000 graduate programs
  • A greatly improved user experience
  • Simplified profiles and connect tools
  • A program can have one owner but multiple users, so that teams can recruit students more collaboratively
  • Clean, mobile-responsive interface

We launched Gradschoolmatch v1 in January of 2013.  Since then, we’ve tried to understand from our early adopters how to best create gradschool fair concept online.  We thank all of them for their patience and the insights they’ve shared.


Press Release: Gradschoolmatch Partners with Golden Key International Honor Society

golden_key_logoSandy Springs GA -based Golden Key International Honor Society, the world’s largest collegiate honor society, has partnered with an innovative Decatur GA internet startup, Gradschoolmatch to make it easier for top-ranked prospective graduate students and for graduate programs to find each other.

Every year at colleges and universities throughout the United States, approximately 1 million students enroll in over 50,000 graduate programs.   Students face uncertainty in finding reliable information on their best advanced degree options.  Meanwhile, individual programs are each so highly specialized and offer such unique learning experiences that some are appropriate for only a handful of students world-wide.  For programs, finding and recruiting the best students who possess the proper credentials and interests for what they offer is a very difficult problem.

The Gradschoolmatch platform has bidirectional functionality where program decision makers and prospective students can search for, discover, and then reach out to each other.  For students there is no cost, whereas programs pay a nominal annual subscription fee.

 “We’re delighted to work with Golden Key. We had remarkable conversion rates after a few test signup blitzes with their members.  That convinced us that today’s students have a significant appetite for our platform concept.   This Golden Key partnership endows us with a unique capability to connect our discerning graduate school clients to a very large pool of exceptionally bright and accomplished prospects,” says Gradschoolmatch Founder and CEO TJ Murphy.

To qualify for Golden Key, university registrars first certify that students are in the top 15% of their college class.   A major focus of Golden Key is to assist its members in realizing their career objectives, which for many involves acquiring an advanced degree.

“Golden Key is committed to helping members achieve their academic goals. With more than 85% of undergraduate members indicating that they plan to attend graduate school, we continuously seek the best resources to help them throughout the admissions process. We believe that Gradschoolmatch provides a quality direct channel for students to interact with admissions directors and faculty to gain better insight into their intended field of study. Gradschoolmatch will help serve our diverse members from more than 400 universities in 8 countries,” says Bradford Rainey, Golden Key Executive Director.


A defiant obelisk

The exact center of the known universe, in the Lake Claire Land Trust. Photography ©2014 Brianna Murphy

In the heart of metro Atlanta lies a humble bit of greenspace just a mile or two from the gradschoolmatch world headquarters.  The Lake Claire Land Trust is a piece of property preserved by passionate neighbors from the surrounding community as a place for gathering, creativity, and solace.  Also on this quiet spot stands a small but defiant obelisk declaring it as the exact center of the known universe.  Who are we to suggest otherwise?

Our vision for Gradschoolmatch is not unlike that of the erector of that monument.  We simply just want to be at the center of the advanced degree universe.   Who is anybody to suggest otherwise?