Go Back To Previous Page
Academic Initiative

Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program

  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Other Source or Multiple Sponsors
  • Support is from the Department of Education including Title VII and GAANN grants. There is also support from Bridge to the Doctorate grants from NIH (R25), NSF Grants both for the program in general and specific grants to our mentors. Further there are grants pending with NASA.
  • www.fisk-vanderbilt-bridge.org

Program Overview

  • Since 2004, 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 over 135 students, they have built 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 and a monthly stipend. The program 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. Students are provided with mentorship, networking opportunities, internships at National labs, assistance with presentations, qualifying exams, thesis and defense preparation, job talks and job placement. As a result Fisk has become the nation’s top producer of African American Master’s degrees in Physics and Vanderbilt has become a top producer of underrepresented minority PhDs in Astronomy, Physics, and Materials Science.

Program Benefits

Program Contact


  • Southeast
  • 1000 17th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208, USA

Type Of Program


  • Graduate


  • Life Sciences

  • Physical Sciences

  • STEM




Individuals Served

  • 101-500

Notable Alumni

The program produced the first African American woman to graduate with a PhD in astronomy from Yale University (Jedidah Isler, PhD, astrophysicist, founder of Vanguard STEM)

Research, Roles & Responsibilities

Research Components

  • Funding to attend professional development sessions/coursework

Other Components

We provide extensive, scaffolded mentoring that is intended to allow students to bring their whole self to the community. One on one meetings are used to track student progress and provide resources and opportunities that align with student goals. We use a proactive mentoring approach to rapidly respond to student's personal or academic needs.

Identity & Inclusion

  • The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master's to PhD Bridge Program encourages the academic and scientific self-efficacy through individualized coursework and fundamental scientific hands on research training. In addition, we have a year long professional skills course that both directly addresses how to build self-efficacy as well as addressing imposter syndrome and stereotype threat. We also provide opportunities for students to develop the skills needed to navigate the academic environment.

Diversity Groups (Social Identity)

  • Disabilities

  • First-Generation

  • Gender

  • Military/Veteran Status

  • Race-Ethnicity

  • Religion

  • Socioeconomic Status (E.G. Low-Income)

Race/Ethnic Minority Group

  • Other

Inclusionary Practices/Activities

  • Creation Of A Safe Space/ Climate/Environment

  • Development Of Academic Sense Of Belongingness (E.G. Meetings With Doctoral Scholars, Peer Researchers, Exchanges At Academic Conferences)

  • Orientation (E.G. Reviewing Norms, Expectations, Structures, Goals, And/Or Protocols)

  • Specialized Curricula/Workshops

    E.G. Training For Participants, Directors And/Or Faculty On Imposter Syndrome, Implicit Bias, Microaggressions


Mentoring Components

  • Mentees Are Allowed To Attend Events With Mentors

    I.E. Dinners, Social Events, Conferences, Retreats) Mentees Are Allowed To Attend Events With Mentors (I.E. Dinners, Social Events, Conferences, Retreats

  • Mentees Are Shown Academic Customs, Pitfalls, Departmental Politics And Taboos

  • Mentors Are Peers Of Program Participants (Near-Peer, Tiered Peer, Etc.)

  • Mentors Exchange Social Displays Of Scientific Knowledge And Practices

  • Mentors Provide Regular Scheduled Meetings With Mentees

  • Mentors Provide Support With Goal Setting And Or Career Planning

Empowering Activities

  • Academic Recognition (I.E. Research Credibility, Prestige)

  • Coaching

  • Feeder Pathways

  • Institutional Alliances

  • Knowledge Transfer To The Community (E.G., Parents, Peers, Stakeholders)

  • Mentoring Opportunities

  • Publication Opportunities


  • Our program has produced over 90 Master's degrees and 36 PhDs since 2004.

Key Performance Indicators

Student experiences, Degree Completion, Transition and Retention to PhD, PhD Completion, Time to Degree, Fellowship, Student Publications, Grant Funding, Employment

Send listing report

You already reported this listing

This is private and won't be shared with the owner.



Translate »

Sign in

Send Message

My favorites

Application Form

Claim Business