Having seen some questions asking about the costs/risks/benefits of doing a PhD I wonder if any academic teaching organisations actually contact their students after graduation and seek structured feedback (qualitative and quantitative) about the perceived or actual longer-term costs and benefits of their degree (bachelor's, master's or doctorate). And if so, do any of them publish the results? My own alma mater have never asked for feedback (just contributions!).
Yes, here is an example.
A quantitative assessment of the 'long-term costs and benefits' is complicated by the subjective aspects of many parameters. For example, some individuals value salary over independence, other don't. But my alma mater, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) does objective surveys and statistics on alumni employment. These numbers should be interpreted knowing that answers are given on a voluntary basis and, the EPFL being modest in size, n is small.
Some examples of the results (for 2011):
"One year after graduation, MSc graduates who did not start PhD studies are employed at 90.9% by the industry in Switzerland. It took them an average of 9.5 weeks and 12 job applications to find a job (less than in 2010). Their average entry-level salary (in Switzerland) was CHF 77,967 in the private sector and CHF 76,591 in the public sector (slightly more than in 2010).
One year after PhD graduation, 90.5% of graduates have a job. However, finding a job was harder: they needed an average of 14.9 weeks and 19 job applications (significantly more than in 2010). Salaries are also lower than before, average entry-level salaries were CHF 93,716 in the private sector and CHF 82,720 in the public sector."
They also asked PhD graduates if they think their degree is 'useful for their careers':
- 29% said it was mandatory,
- 29% that it gave them significant advantage over non-PhDs,
- 40% that it was sometimes an advantage, sometimes detrimental depending on the employer,
- 4% that it gave them no advantage whatsoever, and
- 1% had no idea.
Some more data on work satisfaction of PhD graduates:
very high high average low very low overall sat. 21% 54% 23% 1% 1% interesting job 19% 51% 24% 4% 1% adequate training 22% 41% 22% 14% 1% degree recognition 24% 38% 28% 9% 0% salary 8% 29% 51% 10% 1%
Here is the link to the original document (in French).
Notes: translations are mine, 1CHF=~1US$, the MSc is considered the 'undergraduate degree', global unemployment in Switzerland is <4%, PhD studies are funded with a salary of roughly CHF 50'000 with negligible tuition, these are numbers for PhD in sciences and engineering, numbers for humanities are very different.