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Professional Development Courses and Workshops

Build Your Skills, Expand Your Career Horizons

At Stony Brook, graduate students and postdocs have a number of opportunities for professional development, including regular graduate courses and occasional seminars, workshops, and short courses. This page provides an overview of some of these offerings, but new opportunities and resources are always becoming available. Graduate students and postdocs can subscribe to the Graduate School's professional development e-mail update for more up-to-date news and opportunities. 


Career Exploration & Preparation

Planning Your Path to a Satisfying Career

The Graduate School regularly offers Planning  Your Path to a Satisfying Career, which is a career self-assessment and planning workshop for graduate students and postdocs. Typically offered once every semester, this workshop encourages students and postdocs to broaden their horizons about the types of careers that might suit their interests, skills and values. Participants leave this two-hour workshop with a first draft of a career action plan, often called an Individual Development Plan, or IDP. 

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PhD Career Ladder Program 

PCLP Ladder LogoThe PhD Career Ladder Program, or PCLP, provides graduate students and postdocs with small-group career mentoring. PCLP groups meet once a month and follow a structured curriculum of steps that take participants "up the ladder" of career development from self-assessment and skill identification to informational interviews and resume coaching. PCLP provides peer support to students and postdocs in their preparation for any career path, providing a framework of skills useful for any job search. Newly funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, PCLP has recently expanded to serve graduate students from both the sciences and humanities, as well as postdocs across any field. 

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Career Center 

Stony  Brook is fortunate to have a Career Center with a full-time advisor for graduate students and postdocs, Assistant Director Alfreda James, PhD. Dr. James offers one-on-one advising and resume review, in addition to a wide array of career resources and programs, such as employer career fairs, resume bootcamps, negotiating workshops, and other services. For more information and to make an appointment, visit the Career Center's website. 

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Graduate Career Association

GCA logoThe Graduate Career Association (GCA) is a graduate student organization focused on supporting graduate students' exploration of careers outside of traditional academic research positions. GCA regularly holds panels with career professionals who come to SBU to discuss their career path, as well as networking events to bring together the graduate community around career development. GCA events are typically open to graduate students and postdocs. GCA also offers volunteer leadership opportunities for graduate students on its executive board. 

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Communication & Writing

Communicating Science

Yi Zheng at SBU 3MT 2018Looking to enhance your ability to talk about your research to anyone?  The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science offers a series of 1-credit graduate-level modules on their innovative communication techniques for connecting with an audience. Interested participants are recommended to begin with 503 and 501.

Graduate Students: Communicating Science courses are open to masters and PhD students in STEM disciplines. Tuition is covered for PhD students (in the fall or spring semester) if they are currently supported full time by their program (TA/GA/RA or Fellow) and have a full Graduate Tuition Scholarship. Enrollment in the course requires pre-approval from your Graduate Program Director. Masters students can also enroll and pay tuition as normal.  Students register through SOLAR.

Undergraduates:   Undergraduates can enroll in SOLAR for  JRN 365 TALKING SCIENCE, which is designed to help science majors learn to speak effectively and responsively with multiple audiences, from peers and professors to potential employers and policymakers.

Postdocs:   A limited number of seats are reserved in most Alda Center courses* for postdocs to enroll "free" as an auditor.  Postdocs may only sign up for one class per semester, and must sign up  during course registration each semester by contacting the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at .  Only two seats per section are available on a first come, first served basis. Postdoc enrollment typically opens mid semester for the next semester's courses. 

*Postdoc enrollment is available in JRN 501, JRN 502, JRN 503, JRN 508, JRN 509, and JRN 512. 

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Graduate-Level Writing

WRT 621: Graduate-Level Writing: The Program in Writing and Rhetoric will offer a course each semester, WRT 621, Graduate-Level Writing, designed for students in all disciplines.  The course will be a workshop that allows the students to work on whatever writing they are currently doing in their graduate programs, whether course papers, lab reports, reviews of research, publishable articles, or theses.  The students for the course will be from all disciplines and they will learn from each other as well as from the instructor.  The course will concern itself with all the fundamentals of writing, from considerations of grammar and punctuation, to rhetorical considerations of audience, evidence, inference-drawing, sentence and paragraph construction, and organization.

JRN 502: Communicating Science: Writing to Be Understood: This course is offered by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and focuses on writing strategies. Students develop their ability to write about science or health for a public audience without “dumbing down” their material. The course focuses on such forms as letters to the editor, blogs and op-edits. See the course schedule for more information. 

Three Minute Thesis Competition 

SBU 3MT LogoStony Brook's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition takes place each Spring. PhD students in all disciplines who have advanced to candidacy are invited to present on their dissertation findings to a general audience in ONLY THREE MINUTES. While 3MT is a competition, Stony Brook emphasizes the professional development gained by all competitors who join a cohort of students to undergo specialized communication training in distilling the message of  their research for any audience. 

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Spotlight bannerStony Brook's Postdoc Spotlight is an opportunity for postdocs to hone their communication skills by presenting their research for a general audience in only five minutes. These bitesized talks provide an exciting snapshot of postdoctoral research for our campus community, drawing a full house from across campus. Postdoc speakers receive intensive coaching on their talks from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, providing them with tools for talking about their research with any audience. Prizes are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place talks. The Postdoc Spotlight is held annually during the Fall semester. 

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Digital Humanities


The Humanities Institute at Stony Brook offers a rich slate of seminars and programming throughout the year. The Institute promotes interdisciplinary research and collaboration across the university through conferences, lectures, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, film series, and performances.

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Advanced graduate certificate in Geospatial Science

The Advanced Graduate GSS Certificate will allow graduate students and working professionals to advance their Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and/or remote sensing knowledge and employment opportunities with an industry-recognized certificate. The program requires students to earn 18 credits in addition to holding a BA, BS, or graduate degree.

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Library resources on Digital Humanities

The Library provides a series of resources, research guides and workshops on digital humanities for the SBU community. 

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Entrepreneurship & Innovation


Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry

The  Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry Program is an innovative, one semester, evening program designed to  provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the Bioscience Industry from target identification through commercial application.  This program is targeted toward graduate students and postdocs seeking to facilitate commercial activities within their academic labs or enhance their knowledge of the commercial sector in order to transition into non-academic careers .

Created by the  Center for Biotechnology , this highly interactive program gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the development of commercialization strategies around real intellectual property and business issues.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Increased marketability for participants by expanding their education beyond the typical classroom
  • Practical, hands on work with technologies to advance an invention through to commercialization
  • Connections made with industry leaders through on going classroom interaction
  • Access to a network of over 300 program alumni providing career opportunities, mentoring, professional development and social interaction


For more information: Contact Kate Hutchinson at the   Center for Biotechnology  

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How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad

Have an interest in entrepreneurship and building a startup company? Consider enrolling in  "How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad."   This hands-on course teaches how to take a business from idea to startup under the guidance of experienced mentors. Teams going on to form companies will receive post-class assistance and can go on to compete in the SB Entrepreneurs Challenge. 

Offered each Fall and Spring semester, crosslisted as BUS 364/EST 364/BUS554/EST534.

Hear Steve Blank, internationally recognized Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, describe the course: 

Note that pre-requisites can be waived with permission of the instructor. 

Graduate students enroll through SOLAR. Postdocs should contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Wolfie Tank

Wolfie Tank is a pitch competition based on the model of the popular TV show, Shark Tank. Members of Stony Brook's community showcase their social entrepreneurial ideas in presentations to a panel of judges. Winners of the competition can receive seed money to proceed with their idea. Wolfie Tank is typically held each  November. 

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innovation Lab

Stony Brook's Innovation Lab provides a maker space for our community to think, create and innovate, providing the tools to see new ideas come to life. The facilities offer a range of equipment and tools, from 3D printers to sewing machines to laser cutters to visualization tools. Drop in or sign up for a workshop or training. 

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Policy & Decision Making

GRD 520: Introduction to Science Policy

This one credit graduate course offers graduate students and postdocs an introduction to science, technology and innovation policy. Scientists and engineers who take this  course will: learn how science influences the rules and regulations that affect the public, make connections with science policy experts, and stay informed of opportunities in the world of science policy. The course meets for two hours a week for ten weeks, featuring guest speakers  from the science policy community on such topics as: communication for scientists and engineers, policy for science, the history of science policy, science advocacy, science from the Inside, and the scientific workforce.  Students will write two one-page policy memos. Graduate students enroll through SOLAR. Postdocs should contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

JRN 511: Scientific Communication for Decision Makers

Learning how to effectively communicate science to decision makers is increasingly important for
scientists and health professions. This interactive course provides students with the skills, practice and knowledge needed to clearly and vividly communicate complex science to decisions makers (e.g., Congress, local officials, community groups, etc.) in a variety of forums and settings.

C-STRIDE Advanced Graduate Certificate 

C-STRIDE is a multidisciplinary advanced graduate certificate that teaches the interdisciplinary skills to assist, create, and eventually lead in the translation of complex data-enabled research into informed decisions and sound policies. The certificate requires a total of 15 credits, selected from among communicating science, statistics, environment, and energy courses. 

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Marine Conservation and Policy Program

The Graduate Program in Marine Conservation and Policy provides students with an understanding of contemporary marine conservation and policy issues and helps them develop the necessary skills to apply this knowledge in marine conservation positions that require advanced training and a broad skill-set, but are not research-based. The program offers both a Master's degree and an advanced graduate certificate.

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Teaching, Outreach & Mentoring

Center for excellence in learning & teaching (cELT)

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) offers training on classroom technolocy, pedagogy and other teaching and learning methods. CELT also offers consultation on both instructional design and assessment. You can see a full list of their upcoming events  here

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Opportunities for outreach, teaching, & mentoring

Stony Brook offers a wide array of opportunities for experience in educational outreach, teaching and mentoring. The programs listed below are an example of some of these opportunities. For assistance in connecting with these programs, contact the Director for Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, Kathleen Flint Ehm. 

SBU Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program: WISE's honors curriculum for undergraduate women often seeks instructors for its courses, such as WSE 187: Introduction to Research. 

iSTEM: iSTEM is a hub for dozens of K-12 outreach programs with schools here on Long Island. iSTEM also has consulted with students, postdocs and faculty seeking help in designing outreach programs for grants, such as for NSF broader impacts projects. 

Alda Center's Science Unplugged: The Alda Center for Communicating Science offers a two-semester outreach opportunity for alumni of its core courses to bring science talks to local schools. 

Brookhaven National Lab's K-12 educational outreach programs: Brookhaven National Lab's Office of Educational Programs brings in K-12 school groups all throughout the year, and offers opportunities for students and postdocs to help support these initiatives. 

IRACDA NY-CAPS Postdoctoral Training Program: The Center for Inclusive Education's NIH-funded IRACDA program offers a unique research and teaching training program for postdoctoral scholars in the biological sciences. Applications are accepted annually. 


How To Enroll


Graduate students may be able to take credit-bearing courses that enhance their professional development and complement their core graduate curriculum. Enrollment for credit typically takes place through  SOLAR with approval from the student's graduate program. For more information on enrolling in courses outside of one's graduate degree plan, consult the Graduate Bulletin

Postdocs who wish to earn credit may  enroll as non-matriculating students  in the School of Professional Development, and may have  tuition assistance  available through their employee benefits (State and Research Foundation employee postdocs).  Postdocs  may also be able to audit some courses for free, but should first talk to the course instructor. In the case of communicating science courses from the Alda Center for Communicating Science, a limited number of postdocs may enroll free of charge through  the  Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.  

To sign up for occasional seminars, workshops, and short courses, contact the event organizers. 


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