Earlier this month, Northeastern announced the appointments of Sara Wadia-Fascetti as vice provost for the PhD Network and Phil He as vice provost for graduate education, effective July 1. They served on the PhD Joint Task Force, which, in conjunction with the university’s academic planning process and Northeastern 2025, was critical in realizing the new PhD Network.
We asked Wadia-Fascetti and He to explain the benefits of the PhD Network for doctoral students, what it means for faculty, and how it fits more broadly into the university’s investments in advancing doctoral education.
How the PhD Network will benefit doctoral students
The network, which is operated by a small team of staff, recently launched its website and will have a physical space on campus in the future.
“The PhD Network,” Wadia-Fascetti says, “is a hub for our doctoral students to access a range of information and resources.” These range from travel funding and professional development, to networking events and other community building programming, to assistance navigating support services in areas such as career preparation, diversity, housing, and child care.
She adds: “It’s also a place through which they can interact with faculty and students across our PhD programs.” Northeastern offers more than 30 doctoral programs, including interdisciplinary programs in cutting-edge fields such as network science, information assurance, personal health informatics, and bioengineering.
Northeastern’s use-inspired and interdisciplinary research strengths, along with talented faculty, have created an intellectually ambitious and entrepreneurial environment for doctoral education—one that is strengthened by investments in critical research facilities such as the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex as well as by the hiring of nearly 600 new tenure and tenure track faculty since 2006. What’s more, external research funding has risen by 168 percent since 2006, reaching $130 million in 2016.
“Our incredible hires and expertise in areas such as cybersecurity, materials, health, and robotics have brought in faculty who are working in innovative and interdisciplinary spaces,” Wadia-Fascetti said. “They’re doing exciting, hands-on work that is attracting incredibly talented PhD students.”
Wadia-Fascetti and He also point to Northeastern 2025’s emphasis on integrating more experiential education—particularly at the global level—into the university’s doctoral programs. “Experiential PhD education means engaging students in experiences that go beyond the university in a way that gives their dissertation research a lens that can help them understand how their work will impact society,” Wadia-Fascetti said.