Building Bridges to the Doctorate
In 2010, Rackham Graduate School was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation titled Building Bridges, Creating Community, and Wise Mentoring: Building Institutional Capacity to Enhance Diversity in STEM Disciplines (HRD 1038099). The Building Bridges to the Doctorate program attracts a diverse student body into doctoral education, especially students from historically underrepresented groups, and fully funds students’ master’s education. Additional academic and professional development support is provided to ensure a successful transition to Ph.D. programs at the University of Michigan and beyond.
About the Bridge Programs
Students in each Bridge Program take graduate-level courses, often alongside first-year doctoral students, that allow them to develop their skills and capacity in a structured and supportive environment. Along with curricular and academic experiences, students are engaged in research activities that provide opportunities to learn about the key steps in professional development, as well as critical skills that scholars and scientists need, such as conceptual and technical skills, writing and presenting skills, etc.
Students are matched with faculty advisors and participate together in a mentoring workshop to support the development of an effective mentoring relationship. These faculty-student connections are critical to building a multilayered community for students that includes strong peer-to-peer relationships established in the cohorts.
These activities prepare students to enter doctoral programs with confidence, skill, and achievement; they are highly competitive for admission to doctoral programs at both University of Michigan and peer institutions. Initial results of the NSF-funded Bridge Programs indicate that they have had a significant impact on the pipeline of underrepresented minority students pursuing doctoral study in STEM fields. A high percentage of these students have matriculated into Ph.D. programs.
Bridge Programs at the University of Michigan
Initially, there were four Bridge Programs offered at the University of Michigan through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. They include:
- Applied Mathematics, Marjorie Lee Browne Scholars Program
- Applied Physics, Imes-Moore Bridge Program
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Frontiers Program
- Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Pathways Program
Most recently, the College of Engineering has established similar Bridge Programs.
Cherie R. Dotson, Ph.D.
Director of Access and Inclusion
Partnerships for Access, Community, and Excellence
915 East Washington Street; Room 1570
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070