Innovative Partnership Breaking Down Barriers in the Science World

January 8, 2014

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NPR’s CodeSwitch blog featured a great story last week on a partnership between Vanderbilt University and Fisk University—both located in Nashville—that is successfully helping women and minority students earn PhDs in the sciences.

Sensing that traditional views on how to achieve diversity was hindering admissions into graduate science programs, Vanderbilt and Fisk partnered to create a joint masters-to-PhD Bridge Program that looks beyond traditional measures like GPA and GRE scores.

Instead, they admit students by also considering more personal metrics like determination, character and desire to succeed. Students can choose to complete the Bridge Program in astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, or materials science.

Since its creation in 2004, the results have been extremely encouraging: a retention rate of 92 percent and an astounding 100 percent job placement rate for those who earned their PhD. And most recently, a current Bridge student became the first African-American woman to publish a research article in Nature.

Building off of Fisk-Vanderbilt’s success, Columbia University, among others, has created a similar program.

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