Evaluation of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate Initiative

Prepared for
National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been at the forefront of efforts to grow and diversify the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. In 2003, NSF launched the Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) fellowship to increase the number of students completing doctoral degrees in STEM and entering the workforce in these fields. BD extends the reach of its parent program, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, which aims to increase the completion rates of STEM undergraduate majors and promote their entry into graduate programs in STEM. Through BD, NSF funds the initial two years of graduate study for former LSAMP participants pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees. Through its first eight cohorts, the program has provided financial support for over 1,500 students across 58 universities throughout the nation.

Mathematica’s evaluation included a descriptive analysis of the first eight cohorts of BD fellows and an impact study of the first four cohorts of BD fellows (2003-2006) using a quasi-experimental design.

Key findings:

  • Most fellows had either earned or were making progress toward a Ph.D at the time of the study. Of those working, nearly all were in a STEM-related job. 
  • Consistent with program goals, LSAMP-BD increased the number of minority students obtaining master’s degrees.
  • LSAMP-BD also increased completion of doctoral degrees among minority students who began their studies in master’s programs, but not among those who entered directly into a Ph.D. program.

Mathematica conducted the study under a subcontract to the Urban Institute, and in collaboration with ICF International.