WFU Department of Physics Wake Forest University


Wake Forest Physics
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WFU Physics Colloquium

TITLE: The Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program

SPEAKER: Professor Kelly Holley-Bockelmann

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN

TIME: Wednesday February 1, 2017 at 4:00 PM

PLACE: Room 101 Olin Physical Laboratory

Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM in the Olin Lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


The Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program is a successful model for effective partnerships with minority-serving institutions toward addressing the problem of the underrepresentation of minorities (URMs) in the physical sciences. After 12 years and 110 students, there have been 55 Masters degrees awarded, 43 in Physics, 9 in Biology, and 3 in Chemistry. To date, there are 42 students in the Masters phase with 12 graduating this summer. The students are a diverse group: 59% are African-American, 23% Hispanic, 4% Native American or Pacific Islander, and 14% are white or other non-minority. Approximately half of the students are women. Most are from traditionally underserved populations, first generation, low-income, or have physical or learning disabilities. With an overall retention rate of 95% and a PhD retention rate of 87%, Fisk has achieved the distinction of being the top awarder of Masters degrees in physics to African Americans, and Vanderbilt is one of the top awarders of PhDs to URMs in astronomy, physics, and materials science. So far, 26 students have earned PhDs, and 100% of them are employed as faculty, postdocs, staff scientists, or scientists in industry. We summarize the main features of the program including two of its core strategies: (1) partnering a minority-serving institution and a major research university through collaborative research, and (2) using the master's degree as a deliberate stepping stone to the PhD. Specifically discussed are mentoring and student tracking strategies, noting that a large number of our materials available online as part of the Bridge Program Architects Toolkit: .

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100 Olin Physical Laboratory
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7507
Phone: (336) 758-5337, FAX: (336) 758-6142