Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Diverse Sciences

A program between Fisk University, a historically black university, and nearby Vanderbilt University emphasizes qualities other than GRE scores in an effort to increase the number of minorities and women receiving science PhDs. There is a 200-point difference in GRE scores, Keivan Stassun, an astronomy professor at Vanderbilt, tells NPR's Code Switch blog, that whites and Asians receive and that blacks receive, and a 100-point difference between men and women.

Instead, the masters'-to-PhD Bridge Program, which Stassun started, looks for "grit, performance character — basically measure a person's tenacity, a person's bearing toward achieving their goals," he says. And this approach appears to be working as the program boasts a 92 percent retention rate and a 100 percent job-placement rate, NPR notes.

Other universities, including Columbia University, have or are setting up similar programs.

"It's a trailblazing program, it's been tremendously successful [and] it's taught all of us a lot," says Marcel Agüeros, an assistant professor in the astronomy department at Columbia who directs its research assistant-to-PhD bridge program.