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How to Apply

A cover letter and short writing sample (< 10 pages) are required for consideration for this position and must be attached as the first page of your curriculum vitae. The letter should address your specific interest in and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position.  Applicants who do not meet these requirements will not be considered.  

The writing sample may be submitted separately to Rackham Institutional Research Director, John Gonzalez, at

Job Summary

The Rackham Graduate School is the joint academic home of more than 8500 University of Michigan students pursuing doctoral, master’s, and certificate credentials.  Horace H. and Mary A. Rackham endowed the graduate school more than 80 years ago as a focal point for academic inquiry, community, and intellectual exchange.  The Rackham Graduate School partners with University of Michigan graduate faculty and programs to advance excellence in graduate education, to cultivate a vibrant and diverse student community, and to impact the public good through the scholarship and discoveries of its students and degree recipients. The Graduate School’s vision is that all partners – faculty, students, alumni, and staff – will embrace their membership in the Rackham community and collaborate to promote excellence, diversity, innovation, and a student-centered academic experience in graduate education.  Major goals of the graduate school include reimagining the academic experience of graduate students, strengthening the diversity of Rackham students, enhancing partnerships within the graduate community, and strengthening the organizational culture and climate of Rackham.

The Rackham Graduate School’s Office of Institutional Research at the University of Michigan is seeking applicants for a postdoctoral fellow to manage an innovative longitudinal study of the doctoral student experience. Currently in its 3rd year, the Michigan Doctoral Experience Study (MDES) explores how scholarly identities are developed across the lifespan of doctoral training. The study involves the development and deployment of survey instruments that highlight mechanisms shaping doctoral students’ academic identity development. The goals of MDES are to advance our knowledge about the doctoral student experience, contribute to the scholarly literature on doctoral study, and assist the graduate school in making better choices about the programming and interventions it supports to enhance the experience of graduate students. We anticipate that this work will inform educational research on how graduate programs impact the experience of doctoral students.  

The postdoctoral research fellow will engage in both collaborative and self-directed research aimed at understanding the doctoral student experience. The research fellow is expected to manage all operational aspects of the project and will have a great degree of autonomy to pursue different avenues of interest. Strong candidates for the Postdoctoral Fellow position will be knowledgeable about graduate education, academic identity development, socialization in organizations, and/or psychosocial constructs (i.e. motivation, self-efficacy, goal orientation), versed in the development of survey instruments and use of survey data, and detail oriented with strong organizational skills. Perhaps most importantly, the project requires a strong conceptual thinker with an interest in the development and testing of theoretical frameworks.

The research fellow will report to the Director of Institutional Research, who will provide input about the vision and strategic direction of the project, and assist with decisions and problems as they arise. The fellow will have the support and resources of the IR team (data manager, programmer, administrative support) and dedicated graduate students working on the project. Support for professional development and conference travel will be provided.

NOTE: This is a one year appointment with the potential for extension based on performance and available funding.


Job responsibilities include but are not limited to:

General Project Management

  • Lead research meetings
  • Manage project tasks and deadlines
  • Manage survey implementation including communication and participant relations
  • Oversee management and archiving of research data
  • Assist with budget management and budget requests 

Advancing Research

  • Plan, run, and summarize yearly analyses of survey data
  • Lead continuous improvement of instruments and study design based on feedback from pilots, focus groups, and previous years’ data
  • Propose and prepare grants and other avenues to secure external funding for the project
  • Collaborate with other researchers to launch spin-off and replication studies

Communicating Results

  • Serve as lead author/co-author on manuscripts
  • Lead creation of reports, dashboards, and other products that communicate study results
  • Present at internal events and external academic conferences to help disseminate results

Mentoring and Supervision

  • Mentoring doctoral and master’s students
  • Delegating work to both professional staff and graduate students
  • Coordinating and collaborating with external researchers working on related project

Required Qualifications*

  • PhD in higher education, psychology, sociology or related field
  • Experience with survey scale development, validation, and/or analyses
  • Experience working with complex data merged from multiple sources
  • Advanced statistical and analytical skills
  • Knowledge of basic statistical analyses software (e.g., Stata, SAS, R, MPlus)
  • Strong communication and leadership skills

Desired Qualifications*

  • Previous experience managing a longitudinal research project
  • Knowledge of psychometric testing and instrument validation
  • Data management capabilities using programmatic/automated approaches (e.g., Python, SQL)

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.