APS Bridge Program

Program Goals

graphThe APS Bridge Program is an effort to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority (URM) students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students.

APS is creating sustainable transition programs and a national network of doctoral granting institutions to mentor students to successfully complete PhD programs. The project incorporates strong evidence about support structures that predict academic success of URM students, and establishes links between minority serving institutions and doctoral granting institutions through research activities, collaboration, and personal contact.

Since many of today's doctoral students will become tomorrow's academic, industrial and government leaders, educating more URM PhDs will have a multiplicative effect in educating and inspiring students at all stages in the system and will help address persistent disparities.

The broad goals governing the program are to:

  1. Increase, within a decade, the fraction of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students to match the fraction of physics Bachelor's degrees granted to these groups
  2. Develop, evaluate, and document sustainable model bridging experiences that improve the access to and culture of graduate education for all students, with emphasis on those underrepresented in doctoral programs in physics
  3. Promote and disseminate successful program components to the physics community

Significant Outcomes

graphThe American Physical Society's (APS) Bridge Program is an NSF- and APS-funded effort to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) who receive PhDs in physics. The project has established four bridge sites in Ohio, Florida, and California that provide coursework, research experiences, and substantial mentoring for students who either did not apply to graduate school, or were not admitted through traditional graduate school admissions. Faculty at bridge sites closely monitor student's progress, and provide early interventions to help students develop academically. In physics, the addition of only about 30 doctoral degrees each year will bring the fraction of URM students receiving the highest degree up to the same fraction of these student who receive Bachelor's degrees in the discipline. Remarkably, physics departments have come forward to accept many more students than originally anticipated as can be seen in the attached graphic. This substantial magnification of impact is due largely to the centralized recruiting efforts organized by the APS—a programmatic feature that has identified many promising URM students, and matched them with universities eager to help develop these talented scholars.