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Funding, Grants & Awards

U Arizona Grant Promotes Advanced STEM Degrees for Under-Represented Minorities

A National Science Foundation (NSF) program that funds university efforts to promote advanced-level education for under-represented minorities in STEM fields has just awarded more than a million dollars to the University of Arizona. The Tucson institution's College of Engineering will be providing tuition and $32,000 fellowships to 12 students who are pursuing master's degrees and, eventually, PhDs. The new cohort will participate in peer mentoring, research and academic study opportunities and receive intensive support from their mentors — 19 faculty members from the colleges of engineering, science and agriculture and life sciences.

The "Bridge to the Doctorate Program" award is funded from the NSF's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation.

According to the project proposal, the students will participate in professional development workshops and community building social events with several goals: strengthening their professional development skills; giving them experience in the use of research tools and skills of their discipline; having them interact with mentors and peers "in an academically stimulating community"; and introducing them to others who have earned their PhDs and made the transition into STEM professionals.

The program will last for two years, during which each student will undertake research, write up their findings in a master's thesis, defend their research results and prepare the results for publication in a peer-reviewed publication.

This is the second time that U Arizona has received a Bridge to the Doctorate grant. It received its first one in 2012. According to the university, of the 13 students in that engineering cohort, all earned master's degrees and nine continued with doctoral programs in STEM-related areas.

"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," said Jim Field, the project's principal investigator and assistant dean of graduate education in the College of Engineering, in a prepared 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."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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