Bridging Programs

Many institutions across the nation have developed bridge programs in order to address the challenges of underrepresented and under-prepared students as they acclimate to a new campus and develop and acquire skills and knowledge for STEM success. These programs often include academic and career development as well as personal and social components. The examples below illustrate how various programs serve particular needs at their host institutions.

2YC to 4YC Bridging Programs

Bridging programs are one of several mechanisms that can be used to recruit students to STEM disciplines in higher education (e.g. Gates and Mirkin, 2012; American Institutes for Research, 2012).

These programs provide several benefits which can smooth transitions. To support students who transfer from 2YC to 4 year colleges and universities, it's important to provide:

  • basic skill support
  • advising (on course selection and services to support the whole student)
  • career information, early on; some programs begin even earlier at the K12 level to ensure students know and find STEM disciplines and know about potential careers.

Example 2YC-4YC Programs

Summer Bridging Programs at IINSPIRE institutions

Example Program Profiles

Detailed descriptions of summer bridging programs including the background history and context, major program elements, student outcomes, and resources available for sharing.

Grinnell College
Grinnell Science Project - The program developed over several years, drawing on national studies and efforts, and aimed at addressing barriers to success in the sciences. It has involved curricular and mentoring changes, activities and structures that foster acclimation to college life and a community of scientists, and improvement of student achievement.

Iowa State University
Academic Program for EXcellence for Engineers (APEXE Program) - This program is designed to help support incoming first-year engineering students. The program teaches study skills, provides support for engineering content in a low- to no-stakes environment, and provides exposure to career fields and the different departments within the College of Engineering at Iowa State.

Research Innovation in Science Enrichment University Program (RISEUP) - This program is aimed at assisting community college students in transfer to Iowa State. Participants engage in an 8-week summer research experience designed to provide them an opportunity to gain valuable research experience. Students work in a research laboratory environment and participate in professional development workshops. The workshops help students prepare for transfer to a 4-year institution. During the summer program, students are placed in a lab based on their research interests and may be assigned to individual or team-based projects.

Nebraska Wesleyan University
Summer Transition - The summer transition program serves matriculating minority students in STEM fields the summer before they arrive on the campus. It provides an opportunity for students to meet other students of color who will be with them on campus, and to become comfortable with the campus and community before school starts.

Wartburg College
PreOrientation Program - The goals of the program are to create a community of incoming American-Ethnic students in the STEM fields and to introduce these students to our peer mentors and science faculty members and various other programs and offices that will serve as resources while they are on campus.

Doane College
Bridge to Science Program - The Doane University Bridge to Science and Mathematics Program is designed for IINSPIRE-LSAMP eligible first-year minority students interested in science, engineering, and mathematics majors and any women interested in physics or engineering to aid in the transition from high school to college. It is a summer bridge program for high school students matriculating into Doane University with an interest in STEM fields.

Bridging Program summaries from outside the IINSPIRE Alliance

Program Summaries

For each institution below, click on "Show" to see a list of program components or objectives. Links to associated resources including program brochures, reports, or web sites are included where available.

Barnard College - Hughes Science Pipeline Project (HSPP) funds summer classes in chemistry and math for students enrolled in Barnard's Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). The HEOP program is for economically disadvantaged students from New York State who show academic promise. Prior to their first year at Barnard, HEOP students are required to take a 5-week intensive academic program, which includes math, science, literary analysis, writing, research, and computer use. The HSPP program helps fund these chemistry and math courses.

  • Funding provided for summer chemistry and math courses
  • Support for getting to know the surrounding community and campus
  • HEOP program has additional components during the academic year, including:
    • Full financial need package
    • Social events - luncheons, workshops, study breaks, speakers, dinners, graduate celebrations, and a mentoring network
    • Free tutoring and counseling
    • Free use of laptops and textbooks
    • Free fax, copy, and long distance telephone for educational and job-related needs
    • Learning disability testing, if necessary

Carleton College - Carleton Summer Science Fellowships The goal of the Science Fellows program is to encourage underrepresented students to pursue scientific research early in their careers. Students receive funding for a summer stipend, research supplies, and travel to conferences for at least 2 summers. They may conduct their research either at Carleton or at another institution. In addition, fellows participate in group meetings and activities before, during, and after the research experience and enroll in the 1 credit Science Fellows Research Colloquium both in the spring before and the fall following their research experience.
  • Summer research experience at Carleton or at another institution
  • Each year, there is a cohort of 4 students admitted to the program, in addition to the continuing cohorts
  • Summer research stipend
  • Funds for research supplies
  • Funds for travel to conferences
  • Activities and group meetings before, during, and after the experience, such as a field trips to tour labs at the University of Minnesota
  • Students enroll in a 1 credit Science Fellows Research Colloquium in the spring before and fall following their research experience

Cornell University College of Engineering - LSAMP Undergraduate Summer Research Program is a summer research opportunity for students interested in gaining a deeper understanding in an engineering-related field. Students have the opportunity to conduct and present research over a 10-week period under the auspices of a faculty mentor.
  • Approximately 10 weeks of research (June-August)
  • A research stipend
  • A round-trip travel stipend for students living outside of Ithaca, NY
  • A double room in a residence hall
  • A campus bus pass or campus parking pass
  • Access to state-of-the-art laboratories, libraries, computer/study lounges, etc.
  • Develop a meaningful research agenda and conduct research with a faculty research mentor
  • Present a scientific research talk
  • Design a research poster and discuss their proposal

Haverford College - Haverford Summer Science Institute (HSSI) Coursework is the primary focus of this 5-week program, which is intended to introduce students to the rigors of college-level science courses in a safe and supportive environment. Their summer experience leads into long-term mentoring with faculty. Bi-weekly lunch-time presentations about campus resources and weekend recreational field trips round out the summer program.
  • Haverford Summer Science Institute Director's Report 2012 (Acrobat (PDF) 122kB Jul10 13)
  • Cohort of 15 students per year
  • 5-week program from beginning of July to end of August
  • 1-credit course meeting 8 hours per week
  • 0.5-credit course quantitative/science course meeting 3 hours per week
  • 0.5-credit writing-intensive class meeting 3 hours per week
  • Summer tuition assistance
  • Research stipends
  • All travel expenses paid including room, board, textbooks, and supplies
  • Recreational trips and activities on the weekends
  • Lunchtime presentations 2 days per week about college resources such as summer research opportunities, campus life, career development, etc.

Iowa State University - Academic Program for EXcellence (APEX) Each summer, APEX serves 40-50 incoming multicultural freshmen across all disciplines. Recently, the College of Engineering summer program, SPEED, combined with this program and is now known as APEXE.


  • 8-week academic program
  • Up to 8 credits of general education coursework
  • Organized social activities on the weekends

Oregon State University - LSAMP Summer Bridge Programs at OSU are designed to increase retention, engage students in academics, and build a sense of community among students and faculty.
  • Live in a residence hall during the program
  • Get a jump start on fall classes
  • Meet other new freshmen enrolling in STEM majors
  • Take a field trip to either Intel Laboratories or Hatfield Marine Science Center
  • Go rafting on the McKenzie River
  • Get connected to OSU Faculty and Staff
  • Learn about research opportunities
  • Participate in OSU's Challenge Ropes Course

San Diego City College - 2012 Academy for STEM Success provided a 3-day summer program aimed at prepared incoming freshmen for STEM majors. The academy included training sessions in learning strategies, personal and professional development workshops, and events for networking and community building.
  • Learn about the City College STEM culture of success and language of success
  • Be trained on the best learning strategies and develop necessary study skills
  • Take the StrengthsQuest assessment to learn their five most dominant strengths
  • Meet professors from STEM departments
  • Receive guidance from City College counselors about educational planning
  • Be mentored by successful City College students in STEM majors
  • Receive career advice from local STEM professionals
  • Meet City College staff and learn about available student services
  • Receive sample school supplies for organizing class notes and materials
  • Make new friends and build community with 99 other STEM majors
  • Have fun!

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) - Alabama LSAMP Summer Bridge Program began in 1992, and is a 7-week academic program held at UAB for incoming freshmen in STEM majors who are accepted into Alabama LSAMP schools. Students take 6 hours of coursework per week, receive group and one-on-one career and academic counseling, attend weekly seminars on scientific and general interest topics, and attend a concluding conference.
  • Academic enrichment - 6 hours of regular college coursework per week for 6 weeks
  • Weekly seminars
  • Career and academic counseling
  • Mentoring/orientation
  • Concluding conference with guest speakers, student poster competitions, and awards ceremony. The Conference Program includes more details about the summer bridge program.

University of Buffalo--SUNY - UB LSAMP Summer Research Internship Program This program provides research opportunities for undergraduates who have completed at least 30 credits, have a GPA of 2.8, and show a serious interest in STEM research.
  • 8-week National Science Foundation (NSF) summer internship for undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Weekly "soft skills" workshops
  • LSAMP Research Symposium poster presentation
  • Participation and poster presentation at the National McNair Research Conference
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Research stipend and campus cash allowance

University of Hawaii at Manoa - Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program (NHSEMP) Summer Bridge Program NASA JPL and Transfer Bridge - UH Manoa The Summer Bridge Program provides undergraduate research experiences at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory near the California Institute of Technology campus in Pasadena, CA (not funded in 2013.) The Transfer Bridge - UH Manoa program is aimed at helping underrepresented STEM students who are transferring to the University of Hawaii Manoa. Students in this 10-week program conduct research and give presentations, take upper division STEM courses, and gain a sense of belonging on campus.
Summer Bridge Program NASA JPL
  • High technology research opportunity in world-class facilities
  • Greater preparation for college-level math courses
  • Financial assistance
  • Independent living and life skills
  • A six-hour research internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • A two-hour math class and study session

Transfer Bridge - UH Manoa

  • For underrepresented minority STEM students transferring to the University of Hawaii - Manoa
  • 10-week program, including 10 weeks of research and 6 weeks of coursework
  • Students earn 3 required, upper division credits
  • Meet professors and students in STEM fields
  • Other benefits
    • Research stipend
    • Lab supplies
    • Tuition and meals
    • Summer parking pass

University of Maryland, College Park - LSAMP Summer Bridge Program for Scientists and Engineers helps incoming freshmen students admitted to the A. James Clark School of Engineering transition to college by providing summer instruction in mathematics, chemistry, and software. Students take regular coursework and receive supplemental instruction. The program also includes seminars designed to promote academic success such as time management, test-taking strategies, etc. The program continues with a seminar course during the first academic year and additional support through the second year.
  • Program Brochure
  • 5-week program
  • Morning classes in mathematics based on placement exam
  • Workshops for beginning calculus, chemistry, programming languages, and software programs such as MatLab, etc.
  • One-on-one advising and seminar sessions that deal with topics such as career development, time management, and much more
  • Field trips to science and engineering-related facilities
  • Continued academic advising and opportunities for individual on-campus research with academic support during 2nd year
  • Support in locating summer internships, placement in summer research programs, assistance with scholarships, study abroad and graduate school applications, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities
  • During the fall and spring of the first year, students enroll in a 1-credit course, "Leadership and Scholarship, the Bridge to Effective Citizenship"
  • Other summer bridge program benefits
    • Tuition, student fees, textbooks
    • Housing
    • Lunches

Vassar College - Undergraduate Research Summer Institute Established in 1986, this program introduces students to scientific discovery through high-level research with faculty supervisors. Building a community of scholars is one goal of the program. Activities include events during the summer such as weekly presentations and social gatherings, and a symposium in the fall to highlight research results.
  • Intensive 10-week research program (June-August)
  • Students conduct original, hands-on research under faculty direction
  • Research stipend
  • Weekly events such as research presentations and social gatherings
  • Annual symposium in the fall to highlight results