The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program

Today we have a special guest blog writer, Dr. Dina Stroud, who not only went through the Vanderbilt IGP program but who now is the Executive Director of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program. In a previous post, I discussed opportunities for PhD prospective students to get more education and experience before applying; this Bridge program is one great example! Learn about the program and what they look for in candidates here.

-by Dr. Dina Stroud

The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program focuses on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities earning PhDs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, materials science and physics. After 12 years and 109 students, we have created something truly unique—a family of scholars who are committed to mentor one another and to do world-class research. In the first two years of the program, students work towards the Master’s degree at Fisk University, with access to instructional and research opportunities both at Fisk and Vanderbilt, as well as full funding to cover tuition and fees, a monthly stipend, and medical insurance. We prepare students to apply to and thrive within a PhD program of their choice, and we work to cement valuable research connections in the PhD program to make the transition as seamless as possible. Students in the Bridge Family, whether at Vanderbilt or elsewhere, are supported to the PhD and beyond. We provide mentorship, networking opportunities, internships at national labs, assistance with presentations, qualifying exams, thesis and defense preparation, job talks and job placement.

The Bridge Program is specifically focused on evidence of academic preparation, research experience and personal experiences and characteristics that support the potential for graduate success rather that GPA and GRE scores. Indeed, we do not require the GRE to apply. Many of our most successful students often have gaps in background or preparation but strong indicators of potential. More specifically, we are looking for students who are passionate about pursuing the Ph.D. We want to hear about your motivations and short and long-term goals. If you have evidence of leadership or service, be it within your school, community or church, we are interested in hearing about it. Be sure to describe your research experience with a focus on the questions you were investigating. Perhaps most importantly, our focus is in on perseverance. Truly being able to stand up and keep going in the face of failure or seemingly insurmountable obstacles. That level of tenacity is a unifying factor of our very diverse group of students!

Our application deadline is April 15th. There is not application fee. You can find more information about the program at our website

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