PhD Plus Professional Development Program

Our mission is to enable engineering PhD students at Duke to prepare for, select, and succeed on their career paths through acquiring skills, mastering core competencies, and exploring opportunities.

Features and Benefits

PhD Plus is a program of the Pratt School of Engineering that is available to every engineering doctoral student at Duke.

We focus on empowering PhD students to transform themselves into well-equipped, inspired and effective professionals and leaders.

Professional development topics include effective communication, project management and team leadership.

Over a structured three-year cycle, Duke Engineering PhD students explore careers in:

  • Academia
  • Industry & Government
  • Entrepreneurship, Business, Law & Consulting

Students who participate in PhD Plus graduate are ready to launch successfully onto their chosen career path.

The PhD Plus Certificate

Progress is tracked on Duke Deep Blue via the Suitable app.
  • PhD Plus operates on a three-year cycle. Each year focused on a different career path—Academia, Industry & Government, or Entrepreneurship, Business, Law & Consulting.

    Students can begin working toward the optional PhD Plus Certificate in any year by using Deep Blue to learn about PhD Plus events and to interactively track progress toward completing certificate requirements.

    A student who has earned the PhD Plus Certificate has been an active participant in a significant number of professional development activities and events. Participation in PhD Plus activities does not require active pursuit of the certificate—all engineering PhD students are invited to participate in PhD Plus activities at any time!

    • Complete all three Career-Themed Courses
      One is offered each fall, connected to that year’s career-path theme
    • Earn all three PhD Plus Career-Themed Badges in Deep Blue
      For each badge, during its career-themed academic year:

      • Attend two PhD Plus workshops
      • Complete two PhD Plus skills-based learning sessions
      • Participate in one PhD Plus career conversation
      • Earn 300-plus points in Deep Blue
  • Use the Suitable app

    Students use Duke Deep Blue to track their progress, stay connected, and learn about upcoming PhD Plus activities.

Activities and Events

Each semester, PhD Plus provides workshops, skills-based learning sessions, and career conversations.

Faculty, staff, and alumni contribute to these events to provide PhD students with enriching, engaging, and highly relevant professional development experiences.


PhD Plus is led collaboratively by students, faculty and staff.

All engineering PhD students are encouraged to share feedback and ideas with the student board members from their home departments.

How to Join the Advisory Board

  • Students may serve two-year terms on the PhD Plus Advisory Board—and earn credit toward their core competency in leadership for their service
  • Each summer, we solicit applications for board membership
  • We aim to have two student representatives from each of the Pratt School of Engineering’s four academic departments
  • About half of the board seats rotate each academic year

Advisory Board

Students, staff and faculty work together to design a PhD Plus program attuned to today’s career opportunities.