Bridge to Ph.D. Program in the Natural Sciences

Program Overview

The goal of the Bridge to the Ph.D. Program is to enhance the participation of students from underrepresented groups in Ph.D. programs in the natural sciences.  To achieve this, the Bridge Program provides an intensive research, coursework, and mentoring experience to post-baccalaureates seeking to strengthen their graduate school applications and to prepare for the transition into Ph.D. programs.

Bridge participants are hired as full-time Columbia University research assistants (RAs) for up to two years and conduct research under the mentorship of faculty members, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate students. The current salary for Bridge RAs is $35,750 per year. Program participants are also provided with $1,500 per year to support professional and educational expenses (examples include travel to professional conferences or graduate school interviews, application or course registration fees, or the purchase of books), and, as full-time employees, are eligible for University benefits.

Additionally, Bridge participants enroll in one course per semester at Columbia that is related to their future field of study, and attend monthly one-on-one progress meetings with the Program's Assistant Director (currently Summer Ash).  In partnership with Columbia's School of Continuing Education, the Program provides access to GRE test preparation, writing workshops, time management courses, and other services designed to ensure success while at Columbia and to facilitate application to Ph.D. programs.

To find out more about our Bridge participants, click here.

You can also read an article about the Bridge Program in the March 2011 issue of Physics Today.


Program Disciplines & Eligibility

The Bridge Program is intended for students who are interested in pursuing research and graduate studies in natural science disciplines. The Program accepts applications from students who are interested in the following subject areas:

  • astronomy;
  • biological sciences;
  • earth and environmental sciences;
  • chemistry;
  • physics;
  • psychology.

Note that positions in clinical, counseling, industrial/organizational, and personality psychology are not available through the Bridge Program. This program is not appropriate for those intending to pursue M.D./Ph.D. programs.

The Bridge Program strongly encourages applicants from historically underrepresented groups, including but not limited to:

  • Blacks/African Americans;
  • Hispanics;
  • Native Americans/Alaska Natives;
  • Pacific Islanders.

Note to Columbia University PIs: If there are students in your lab who are strong candidates for the Bridge Program, please reach out to the Bridge Director, Marcel Ag├╝eros, as soon as you've identified them, so that he can partner with you in the application process.

Application Procedure

The application deadline for the Bridge Program is May 1, 2014.  The number of slots available for scholars entering the program in 2014 is yet to be determined.  Applicants will be notified of acceptance by early June 2014, and those accepted to the Program must be able to begin working as full-time RAs during the month of July 2014.

For details on how to apply, click here

Questions about the Bridge Program can be emailed to Assistant Director Summer Ash.


Bridge Program orientation lunch, August 2013. Front row: Angelica Patterson, David Jaimes, Steven Mohammed, Rhondale Tso, Kirsten Frazer, Juliana Agudelo. Back row: Millicent Olawale, Erick Andrade, Evan Hamilton, Lester Lambert, Julia Gross, Assistant Director Summer Ash.


The Bridge Program is supported by the National Science Foundation through grant AST-1255419. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.