Program Success

70 percent of URM STEM students are lost at pre-major to major transition (vs 40 percent for non-URM STEM students). 20 percent of URM STEM majors go on to a Master’s degree.  2 percent of URM STEM majors go on to a PhD.


The percentage of PhDs that are awarded to underrepresented minority (URM) students less than 1/7th of their representation in the general population.

There are enough URM students in the pipeline today to narrow this gap, but too few persist. The challenge is to identify how to support these students and increase the persistance rate.


Cal-Bridge is a statewide network of CSU, UC, and community college campuses coming together to form a CSU–UC PhD bridge program promoting broader participation by students from underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy. Cal-Bridge recruits CSU and community college students entering their junior year at a CSU and supports them for three years, through their first year of graduate school.

Pillar One: Multiple engaged mentors. Pillar Two: Scholarships of up to $10,000 per year. Pillar Three: Professional development workshops. Pillar Four: Summer research experience.

The Cal-Bridge program provides support for its scholars through four pillars of support: 1) joint intensive mentoring by two faculty, one from their home CSU campus, the other from a nearby UC campus; 2) substantial need-based scholarships up to $10,000 per year to allow the scholars to cut their work hours to less than 10 hours per week and focus on academics; 3) professional development workshops designed to prepare the scholars to successfully apply to PhD programs and; 4) provide summer research opportunities, primarily through the Cal-Bridge Summer program (also known as CAMPARE).  


A group of Cal-Bridge scholars form a bridge to symbolize the program.

90 percent BS recipients enrolled in graduate school66 percent first generation college students64 percent underrepresented minorities45 percent identify as women23 percent identify as underrepresented minority women18 percent identify as lgbtq+

Since its inception in 2014, the Cal-Bridge program has selected 128 scholars in 7 cohorts, including 69 Latinx, 14 Black/African American, and 58 women scholars (30 of the 58 women are from underrepresented minority groups). Eighty-four (84) of the 128 Cal-Bridge Scholars are first-generation college students and 23 identify as LGBTQ+. A total of 61 Cal-Bridge Scholars have graduated with a BS and 38 (62%) of them are enrolled in PhD programs in physics or astronomy at top PhD programs nationally, 4 have received MS degrees, and another 17 are enrolled in a PhD bridge program or MS program, with plans to eventually earn a PhD. In total, 90% of Cal-Bridge scholars with a BS are either in a PhD program or hope to be soon.


38 former Cal-Bridge scholars are currently enrolled in PhD programs across the United States. An additional 16 are enrolled in Master's programs intending to eventually apply to PhD programs, and 1 scholar is in the APS Bridge Program. 

Map of the US, showing distribution of past Cal-Bridge scholars currently pursuing higher degrees in physics and astronomy. Map shows concentration of PhD and MS candidates in the Northeast and throughout California.

To learn more, download a copy of the Fact Sheets below:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DUE-1741863