Should Financial Literacy Be Part of Graduate School Curriculums?

How are grants coming so far this year? Most scientists hate this question. Funding in the biosciences has always been a tooth and nail battle for most academic researchers. However, are we exacerbating this problem by the way we are teaching in graduate school? Very few graduate programs actually teach their students proper financial literacy during graduate school. What does this lead to? Poor spending and poor decision making when it comes to purchasing decisions.

How many times have we seen this situation?

What can we be doing better to help avoid situations like this? I think it is time for graduate programs, especially PhD programs, to start making financial literacy training mandatory. Most of us took that one accounting course in college that was super easy compared to calculus, but outside of that, our financial literacy was taught to us the hard way while surviving on the 2.5$/hour salary we had in graduate school.

Specifically, it would be easy for most graduate programs to design and implement a course that focuses on budgeting for grants and purchasing decisions. Further, teaching advanced methods in Microsoft Excel can help young PIs balance and keep track of their spending while not compromising time analyzing data or working on grants. The way I see it is that education about proper spending and proper financial responsibility is key to running an established lab, whether in academia or private industry.

Is there a financial literacy program for scientists at your institution? Do you have a unique way that you teach trainees in your lab about finance? Share in the comments below!

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