William Tyson

Associate Professor


Office: CPR 237
Phone: (813) 974-4778



Dr. Will Tyson is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of South Florida in Tampa. His research uncovers the connections between educational experiences and career pathways and key life course transitions among students from various backgrounds. He specializes in research that challenges our understanding of interpersonal and structural influences on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and career pathways out of high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities.

Dr. Tyson is the author of Teaching and Learning Employability Skills in Career and Technical Education: Industry, Educator, and Student Perspectives (2020). This book examines how high school career and technical education (CTE) educators teach and students learn industry-desired employability skills (also called “soft skills”) to prepare students to get a job in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field and/or attend college right out of high school. Personal skills such as work ethic, personal responsibility, and willingness to learn and social skills such as teamwork, leadership, and conflict resolution are necessary to be competitive for the estimated 30 million jobs in the United States that do not require a bachelor’s degree yet pay an average of $55,000 a year.

Dr. Tyson has 19 years of experience as a National Science Foundation (NSF) grantee serving in leadership roles on ten different projects totaling over $12.8 million, including $3.2 million as Principal Investigator of three projects: PathTech Tampa Bay, PathTech LIFE, and PathTech LISTEN. PathTech Tampa Bay (2011-15, DUE #1104214) was a holistic examination of pathways into and out of high school career and technical education career academies, community college advanced technology programs, and manufacturing and high-tech jobs in the Tampa Bay area. PathTech LIFE (2015-19, DUE #1501999) is a national survey of students enrolled in community college advanced technology programs. The survey includes data from 3,216 students at 96 colleges in 38 states and 3 US territories. PathTech LISTEN (2018-23, DUE #1801163) is longitudinal follow-up interviews with a diverse sample of PathTech LIFE survey participants with the goal of creating a longitudinal survey. For more information, please check out his project website: www.pathtechusf.com.

Dr. Tyson is a Co-Principal Investigator and Social Researcher of Curricular, Co-curricular, Social, and Financial Supports for Successful Transfer and Graduation of Engineering Undergraduates from Rural/Nontraditional Backgrounds (2020-25, DUE # 2030861), a collaboration with Polk State College led by PI Sanjukta Bhanja from USF Electrical Engineering. This NSF Scholars in STEM (S-STEM) project, referred to as Transfer Undergraduate Rural/Nontraditional Student Pathways through Identity, Knowledge & Engagement (TURNPIKE) will provide 50 rural and post-traditional transfer students with scholarships to fully cover the cost of their undergraduate education including their transfer from Polk State College into the USF College of Engineering. Dr. Tyson will conduct mixed methods research of transfer student pathways through USF Engineering.

Dr. Tyson is also Co-Principal Investigator on two grants investigating community college student transfer and the capacity for external funding and research.   Grant Insights through Research & Development (GIRD): Using Big Data Centered Mixed Methods to Explain Variances in Grant Funding and Outcomes at Two-Year Colleges” (DUE #2202169) uses big data analytics, surveys, and interviews to explain variance in grant funding and outcomes amongst comparable two-year colleges (2YC).  Collaborative Research: Community College S-STEM Network (CCSN) – Developing and Sharing Research on Low-Income Community College Student Decision-Making and Pathways in STEM (DUE #2224623, $2,879,267) is a S-STEM Research Hub aimed at making STEM education more equitable by better understanding how low-income students navigate key decision points in their academic career.

Dr. Tyson is a co-editor of Becoming an Engineer in Public Universities: Pathways for Women and Minorities (2010). Dr. Tyson has also served on several expert panels related to STEM education research and practice, most recently including the editorial board of Sociology of Education (2011-13, 2017-19) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Committee on Engineering Technology Education (2014-16). Dr. Tyson currently serves or has served as a social researcher, evaluator, or advisory board member for NSF-funded projects at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Florida State University, Palm Beach State College, Bellevue College, and SRI International.


Ph.D., Duke University, 2004


Teaching and Learning Employability Skills in Career and Technical Education: Industry, Educator, and Student Perspectives