Bridge to Ph.D. Program in the Natural Sciences

Bridge Program participants, alumni, and staff, annual research symposium, June 2014. From front to back: Kirsten Frazer, Millicent Olawale, Steven Mohammed, Rhondale Tso, Erick Andrade, David Jaimes, Caroline Baptist, Natalee Raymond, Julia Gross, Ximena Fernández, Angelica Patterson, John Pamplin II, Richard Lopez, Rainer Romero-Canyas (former Assistant Director), Lester Lambert, Summer Ash (former Assistant Director), Marcel Agüeros.
Program Overview

The Bridge to the Ph.D. Program aims 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 graduate school. Bridge alumni have gone on to Ph.D. programs at Columbia, but also to Caltech, Johns Hopkins, SUNY-Albany, the University of Florida, the University of Washington, and Yale, among others.

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 2016-2017 salary for Bridge RAs is $38,310 per year. Program participants are also provided with $1500 per year to support professional and educational expenses (examples include travel to professional conferences and 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 Director (Dr. Kwame Osei-Sarfo).  The Program also organizes a number of professional development workshops, provides access to GRE test preparation, and partners with Columbia's School of Professional Studies to ensure success while at Columbia and to facilitate application to Ph.D. programs.

Follow these links to find out more about our Bridge participants and Bridge alumni

You can also read an article about the Bridge Program in the March 2011 issue of Physics Today. The Columbia Daily Record also featured an article about the Program in June 2012. 

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.

The Bridge Program does not offer positions in clinical, counseling, industrial/organizational, and personality psychology. The Program is not appropriate for those intending to pursue M.D./Ph.D. degrees.

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, Dr. Kwame Osei-Sarfo, as soon as you've identified them, so that he can partner with you in the application process.

Application Procedure

Applications for the next cohort of Bridge scholars can be found here. Applications will be due April 2, 2018. We will be admitting at least five new scholars, who will be notified of acceptance no later than June 1, 2018. New scholars must be able to begin working as full-time RAs by August 2018.

Questions about the Bridge Program can be emailed to Program Director Dr. Kwame Osei-Sarfo.

The Bridge Program is supported by the National Science Foundation through grant AST/PHY-1539931. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.