The Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program: A Great Opportunity for Graduate-Level Studies

Tyler Macaluso – March 1st, 2018

Are you passionate about a career in the physical or biomedical sciences, but need additional coursework, training, or research experience before beginning PhD-level work? Really want to pursue a graduate degree in a STEM field but need finical help or guidance on the required actions and qualifications to qualify for such a degree?  The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master's to PhD Bridge Program can fulfill all of these questions, concerns and more!

The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s to PhD Bridge Program was created with the mission to improve the demographic representation in graduate level STEM fields. The program was first created after evidence from various studies indicate that underrepresented minority (URM) students are more likely to use a master’s degrees as a stepping stone towards earning a PhD, and so a universally-beneficial relationship between between Fisk University, which is an accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and Vanderbilt University was created. 


The Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program offers many benefits, challenges, and opportunities to grow and develop as both a person and a respected professional within your respective field of study! The program is very accommodating and personalized to guarantee that every student can meet their individualized to academic goals and professional needs. Course selection within the program is designed to address any necessary gaps in undergraduate preparation, as well as provide research experiences that to discover, develop and fulfill their full scientific and professional capabilities. Additionally, this Bridge Program gives its students the unique opportunity to complete a Masters degree under the direct guidance of tentative faculty mentors, allowing students to develop personal one-on-one mentoring relationships that will help them on their graduate path as they transition towards a PhD.

What Is The Bridge Program- A Brief Overview of How It Works:

  • Accepted students begin the program by earning a Masters degree at Fisk University, in academic fields of either physics, biology, chemistry, and other STEM-related fields, with an option for full funding support.
  • Learn necessary and valuable research skills and experiences from dedicated faculty mentors
  • Obtain individualized support for networking with relevant and helpful Vanderbilt Professors
  • Help developing and executing an action plan for the successful application to Vanderbilt or other optional academic institutions of your choosing

What Does This Bridge Program Provide For It's Students:

  • Full guidance to instructional opportunities throughout the entirety of the program, often leading to the completion of most or all coursework required for the PhD
  • Access to research opportunities to study under and work besides both Fisk and Vanderbilt faculty, with the eventual goal of selecting of a Vanderbilt PhD adviser
  • A welcoming and supportive academic environment that helps foster a close-knit social network between other Bridge students, postdocs, and faculty members
  • Full funding support, including tuition waiver, monthly stipend, a laptop computer, and health insurance.

Who should apply:

  • Undergraduate students currently pursuing majors in physics, biology, and other science disciplines with a desire to pursue a Ph.D. but require assistance along the way, whether it be additional research training, course work, or finical aid


All students within the Bridge Program complete their Masters degree at Fisk University. Upon completion of their Masters Degree and satisfactory performance throughout the program, the joint Fisk-Vanderbilt committee then proceeds to recommend the student to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the graduate committee within the department the student would be applying into.

Overview of the Academic Requirements and General Course Path:

Below are the basic requirements of the Masters-to-PhD Bridge program:

Complete all requirements for the M.A. degree

- Be sure to take at least one core course at Vanderbilt and pass with at least a B.

- Be mindful of the various deadlines and forms to be completed (see below).

- Meet at least once per semester with the Bridge Program Executive Director.

Take the GRE with the relevant subject exam included (dependent upon which PhD program you are applying to).
Apply to the relevant Vanderbilt PhD program, or other PhD program, within the deadline.


If you would like to apply to this program, and believe that you may be qualified to begin PhD-level work immediately, then the Bridge Program encourages all potential applicants to apply directly to the Vanderbilt PhD program, with an indication that you are also interested in the Masters-to-PhD Bridge program. This gives applicants the special advantage because in the case an applicant is not selected for admission directly into the PhD program, their application will be forwarded to the Bridge program for consideration.

All prospective applicants are encouraged to contact one of the program coordinators before applying if they have an questions or concerns about the program, to help you determine whether the program is right for you, and to help guide you through the application process.


For additional program details and contacts information, the link to the Bridge Program's website can be found here.

Program flyers and Brochures can also be found below as official references of the program.