In an effort to boost diversity among domestic students pursuing graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $1.07 million to the University of Arizona’s (UA) College of Engineering to aid the NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Program. Funded by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, the Bridge to the Doctorate Program will cover tuition costs for 12 underrepresented minority students and provide $32,000 in fellowships for two years.
The program aims to empower more individuals from underrepresented groups — who comprise almost a third of the U.S. population but less than 10 percent of Americans with doctorates — to pursue doctorate degrees in STEM fields and increase workforce diversity. According to the project’s principal investigator Jim Field, assistant dean of graduate education in UA’s College of Engineering, the grant may be particularly beneficial in Pima County, where Hispanic and Native American populations exceed the national average.
“The University of Arizona has been a leader in efforts to increase diversity among graduate students, with nearly 20 percent of our graduate students in fall 2015 from underrepresented minority groups,” Field said in a statement. “The NSF Bridge to the Doctorate grant will expand this work and raise our profile as a destination campus for people from diverse backgrounds who seek high-quality graduate degrees in STEM-related fields.”
This is the second NSF Bridge to the Doctorate grant UA has received; the school received nearly $1 million for 2012-2014 to help 13 UA engineering students who all earned master’s degrees, and nine of them entered UA doctoral programs in STEM-related fields.