Bridges To the Doctorate Program
Shiva P. Singh, Ph.D.
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, USDHHS
July 25, 2008
Outline of Presentation
• Overview of Bridges to the Doctorate
• Guidance for Bridges to the Doctorate
Bridges Program Goals
An institutional program funded by NIGMS
and NCMHD that is designed to increase the
number of master’s degree students from
underrepresented groups and/or health
disparities populations (URMs) who transfer
and complete the Ph.D. degree in biomedical
and behavioral sciences.
The Bridges Program Emphasizes:
Institutional Focus: impact on Bridges and non-Bridges
students alike so more students transfer from the master’s
degree institution to the Ph.D. degree-granting institution.
Partnership of master’s degree institutions with the Ph.D.
Program with well-integrated developmental activities that will
provide URMs with the necessary academic preparation and
skills to enable their transition and successful completion of the
Ph.D. degree in biomedical/behavioral sciences.
• Purpose: To facilitate a seamless transition of targeted
students from the master’s degree institution to the Ph.D.
degree-granting institution in biomedical/behavioral
• Up to three (3) institutions in the partnership, including
the applicant institution, unless strongly justified
• An institution may participate in more than one Bridges to
the Doctorate partnership if strongly justified by the
potential to magnify the programs’ and institution’s
(Students who receive support in the form of salaries/wages)
• Students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and
behavioral research enterprise of the nation and/or populations
disproportionately affected by health disparities (targeted groups).
Nationally, these groups include, but are not limited to, African
Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (including Alaska
Natives), Natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and/or rural Appalachians.
• Must be U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals or permanent residents.
• Must be matriculated full-time in master’s degree program in
biomedical/behavioral science fields at the partner master’s degree
Student Selection & Critical Mass
• Student Selection
• Institution’s responsibility to establish student qualifications
• Describe the criteria for selection and retention of Bridges
students into the program
• Critical Mass
• 6-8 Bridges students in the program, each year
• 3 Bridges students from each master’s degree institution
Baseline Data & Goals to Improve
Strong Pool of Targeted Students
Well-integrated Student Development
Strong Institutional Commitment
Sound Evaluation Plan
What Are the Baseline Data
& Measurable Objectives?
• The baseline is a starting point; it serves as a guide to capacity,
and is necessary to gauge the impact of the program. For example,
an increase of 100% on a base of 1 is not nearly as impressive as if
it were on a base of 10.
• Usually it’s an average data over a 3-5 year period
• These are brief (and focused) statements of end results –
connected to the long-term goal. They can be qualitative and
quantitative, but must be measurable.
• They are not a means to an end, or a checklist of “to do” list.
• The activities proposed are the means to achieve your goals and
Examples of Baseline Data & Measurable
An application proposes to increase the number of master’s degree
students who transfer to Ph.D. degree programs in biomedically
• How many and what percent of its students currently transfer to
Ph.D. degree -granting institutions in biomedically relevant
• What is the proposed number and percentage of students who will
transfer to Ph.D. degree -granting institutions in biomedically
relevant disciplines during the grant period (measurable objective)
Examples of Baseline Data & Objectives, cont.
Out of a total of 40 master’s degree students (60% non-
URM and 40% URM), 9 non-URMs (37.5%) and 4 URMs
(25%) actually transfer to Ph.D. degree programs in
biomedically relevant disciplines per year (average data
The URM transfer in biomedically relevant disciplines will
increase from the current rate of 25% to 37.5% (from an
average of 4 to 6 students per year) by the fourth year of
the grant award.
Examples of Baseline Data & Objectives, cont.
Bridges Baseline on Students Transfer - An average of 4 out of 8 (50%)
Bridges students in the program transferred to Ph.D. degree programs in
biomedically relevant disciplines per year (average data from 2004-2007).
Objective - The transfer of Bridges students to Ph.D. degree programs in
biomedically relevant disciplines will increase from the current rate of 50% to
75% (from an average of 4 to 6 students per year) by the fourth year of the
Bridges Baseline on Degree Completion - An average of 2 out of 4 (50%)
transferring Bridges students completed the Ph.D. degree in biomedically
relevant disciplines per year (average data from 2004-2007).
Objective - Bridges students’ Ph.D. degree completion in biomedically relevant
disciplines will increase from the current rate of 50% to 75% (to an average of
4.5 graduates per year) by the fourth year of the grant award.
Goals to Improve the Track Record
• Clearly stated goals, and measurable objectives
relative to the baseline and in context of NIH
• Must improve on the previous record and make
substantial progress towards meeting the NIH
expectations during the next 5 years
• Increase in the institutional transfer of targeted students (Bridges &
non-Bridges) to Ph.D. degree programs in biomedically relevant
sciences by 50% in five years
• Increase in the transfer of Bridges students to Ph.D. degree
programs in biomedically relevant sciences (75% in five years)
• Increase in the Ph.D. degree completion of transferring Bridges
students (80% in five years)
BASELINE DATA AND OBJECTIVES
Applicant Partner Institutional Transfer Institutional Bridges Transfer (# of Bridges Bridges
Institution/ Institutions of URMs and non- Objectives students who transfer/ total # of Objectives
Unified URMs (# of students who on the Bridges students in the program) & on the
Institutional transfer/ # of students Transfer of Degree Completion (# of Bridges Transfer &
Program enrolled full-time in URMs students who complete the Ph.D. Degree
master’s degree degree/ # of transferring Bridges
Examples of Developmental Activities
To Move the Institution Forward from Baseline to NIH Expectations
• Faculty from the two types of institutions jointly developing
courses and curricula, including updating existing or developing
new/advanced courses at the master’s degree institution
• Faculty from the doctorate institution serving as visiting lecturers,
offering lectures and/or laboratory courses at the master’s degree
• Faculty from the doctorate institution providing mentored research
experiences to Bridges students, including the summer research
internships, and serving on their thesis advisory committees
• Fostering research capacity of the master’s degree institution via
Examples of Developmental Activities
• Allowing Bridges students to take some courses, and complete
part of their master’s thesis research at the doctoral institution
• Providing Bridges students access to computer and library
facilities, seminars, and workshops, etc., at the doctoral institution
• Establishing a mentoring and academic counseling program for
master’s students with faculty at the doctoral institution
• Advanced or special courses and scientific research conferences
for Bridges faculty from the master’s degree institution
Strong commitment to the goals of the proposed
program from all participating institutions, including
• Provide the institutional data on the transfer of URMs and
non-URMs in biomedically relevant sciences
• Provide the data on transfer and Ph.D. degree completion by
Bridges students in biomedically relevant sciences
• Track Bridges students over a ten-year period as they
progress through the pipeline
• Institutionalize the most effective activities supported by the
• Purpose: Provide information useful to the applicant and
the partner institutions for improving the program, and for
institutionalizing the most effective activities supported by
the Bridges program.
• A sound evaluation plan, with timeline, that’s in-line with
measurable goals and objectives
• Identify the selected evaluator and include his/her
• Consortium agreement between the master’s and Ph.D.
degree-granting institutions define the participating institutions’
respective roles in administering the Bridges program.
• The application must include a letter from each collaborating
institution signed by the appropriate institutional officials and
program director/program coordinator, acknowledging participation
in the program. These letters must also include the following:
“THE APPROPRIATE PROGRAMMATIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL
OF EACH INSTITUTION INVOLVED IN THIS GRANT APPLICATION ARE AWARE
OF THE NIH CONSORTIUM GRANT POLICY AND ARE PREPARED TO
ESTABLISH THE NECESSARY INTER-INSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT(S)
CONSISTENT WITH THAT POLICY.”
Budget and Years of Support
• The program provides support for student, faculty,
and institutional development activities
• Budget must be reasonable, well documented, and
fully justified and commensurate with the scope of
the proposed program
• Duration: up to five years
Guidance for Bridges to the
Develop a Plan
• Read the FOA and F&Qs
• Conduct an institutional assessment and gather baseline data: how many
transferring/graduating with Ph.D., why not more transferring/graduating?
what can change so more will transfer/graduate?
• What are the institutional needs?
• What is your long range goal?
• What are your measurable objectives?
• What activities will help your institution achieve these objectives
• How will you evaluate your program outcomes?
• Follow all of the instructions in writing the application!!
• Project Summary, & Performance site (s)
• Facilities & other Resources
• Key Persons and their Biographical Sketches
• Research Plan:
Application Components/Org., Cont.
• Specific Aims and Measurable Objectives
• Background and Significance: Institutional &
student data; vision and anticipated value
• Preliminary Studies or Progress Report:
Specific Outcome Data & Impact on the Institution
• Research Design & Methods:
Application Components/Organization, Cont.
Research Design & Methods:
• PD, PCs, and Program Faculty
• Developmental Activities:
The rationale and detailed description
Who will implement and the timeline
Possible pitfalls and alternative approaches
• Responsible Conduct of Research
• Evaluation Plan
• Consortium Agreements
Presentation of Data
• Present data in figures, graphs, tables or text
• Place figures, tables, and graphs close to where
they are referred to in the text
• Make all figures, tables, and graphs clearly legible
• Avoid irrelevant information
• Do not use the Appendix to circumvent the page
limitations of the Research Plan
Common Reasons for Failure
• Missing or inadequate baseline data
• Lack of clear and well-defined measurable objectives
• Lack of adequate progress
• Activities poorly related to the objectives
• Poorly developed or missing evaluation plan
• Lack of institutional commitment or support
• Lack of coordination with other institutional programs
aimed at accomplishing similar goals
• “Program-centric” application vs. institutional application
Summary: Bridges “Essentials”
• Institutional baseline data on enrollment and transfer of URM & non-URM students in biomedically
• Bridges baseline data on the transfer and Ph.D. degree completion by the targeted students
• Clear statement of program goals, specific aims, and measurable objectives relative to the baseline
• Detailed progress report, if applicable
• PD/PI, Coordinators, and program faculty with appropriate training and experience
• Detailed description of developmental activities
• Sound evaluation plan (see for example, http://oerl.sri.com/ and
• A plan for training in responsible conduct of research
• Evidence of strong institutional commitment
• Consortium Agreement with “specific language”
• A well justified budget that is commensurate with the scope of the proposed program
BASELINE DATA AND OBJECTIVES
Institution/ Institutional Institutional Bridges
Unified Transfera Objectivesb on Transferc & Bridges Objectivesb
Institutional Partner of URMs and the Transfer of Degree on the Transfer &
Program Institutions non-URMs URMs Completiond Degree Completion
a Provide the number and percent of URMs and non-URMs who transfer to Ph.D. degree
programs in biomedically relevant sciences from each participating master’s degree
institution. Usually, this is an average data over a 3-5 year period. The institutional transfer
is calculated by the number of students who actually transfer to Ph.D. degree programs in
biomedically relevant sciences divided by the number of students enrolled full-time in
master’s degree program(s).
bThe objectives must be measurable, relative to the current baseline and in context of NIH
expectations (see FOA for details)
c Provide the number and percent of Bridges students in the program who transferred to
Ph.D. degree programs in biomedically relevant sciences during the previous funding cycle.
The transfer is calculated by the number of Bridges students who actually transferred
divided by the total number of Bridges students in the program. Provide the collective data
for the entire program (not the individual institution)
d Provide the number and percent of Bridges students in the program who completed the
Ph.D. degree in biomedically relevant sciences during the previous funding cycle. The
degree completion is calculated by the number of Bridges students who actually completed
the Ph.D. degree divided by the total number of transferring Bridges students. Provide the
collective data for the entire program (not the individual institution)