2020 AERA-Spencer COVID-19 Impact Survey

Examining the effect of COVID-19 on the professional experiences of early career doctorates and doctoral students

The COVID-19 Pandemic presented new challenges for early career doctorates and doctoral students in education research. In order to be responsive to this situation, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) sought information about the experiences of those just launching their careers or completing their doctoral programs after the onset of the pandemic. The study aimed to provide essential information to higher education institutions, research funders, professional associations, and research organizations seeking to take meaningful steps to support productive research career development and trajectories during and after this public health crisis.

NORC was engaged by AERA and the Spencer Foundation to conduct a survey of early career doctorates and doctoral students about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The survey gathered useful, representative data to better understand and support this population, on experiences such as:

  • How research topics and priorities have been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What personal and professional challenges occurred or could emerge
  • What are their expectations for future career paths and timelines
  • What kinds of support strategies are needed or have been most effective

Approximately 17,000 current and former AERA members from the 2018, 2019, and 2020 membership were invited to participate in the online survey. The study population included early career doctorates (2013-2020) and doctoral students across the United States documenting their challenges and successes. NORC and AERA are preparing a summary report of the results, expected to be released in 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions


Questions about the survey? Contact us:

Email: AERA-Impact@norc.org

Toll Free: 1-877-888-8703


More information about AERA: https://www.aera.net/About-AERA

More information about the Spencer Foundation: https://www.spencer.org/about-us

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