Larger percentages of domestic students, and, in particular, women and underrepresented minorities, should be attracted to the study of and careers in the mathematical sciences.
In its site visits, the Committee on Doctoral and Postdoctoral Study in the United States looked for features that were present in successful programs as well as for elements that were detrimental to quality education. The committee noted that successful programs possessed, in addition to the sine qua non of a quality faculty, the following three characteristics:
A focused, realistic mission
A positive learning environment
Relevant professional development
A positive learning environment is an environment that provides the assistance, encouragement, nurturing, and feedback necessary to attract and retain students and to give them an education appropriate for their future careers.
The findings of the committee are as follows:
There are several different models (missions) for programs, including
the standard-model, which supports research in a broad range of areas, offers depth in each one, and has as its goal preparation for careers at research universities, and
specialized models, such as the subdisciplinary model, the interdisciplinary model, the problem-based model, and the college-teachers model, which were seen to alleviate two large human resource problems, recruitment and placement, and to be conducive to clustering of faculty, postdoctoral associates, and students, a practice that helps create a positive learning environment and promote relevant professional development.
Both standard and specialized programs can be successful. However, programs that do not have the human or financial resources to run a successful standard program should consider whether a specialized model might better fit their needs.
New PhDs with a broad academic background and communication skills appropriate for their future careers are better able to find jobs.