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AGEP Opens a Window to Graduate Research

The Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program is intended to achieve a significant increase in the number of students receiving doctoral degrees in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET), with special emphasis on those population groups underrepresented in these fields. In addition, since the lack of role models and mentors in the professoriate constitutes a significant barrier to producing minority SMET graduates, NSF is particularly interested in increasing the number of minorities who will enter academic faculties in these disciplines. Specific objectives of the AGEP program are (1) to develop and implement innovative models for recruiting, mentoring, and retaining minority students in SMET doctoral programs and (2) to develop effective strategies for identifying and supporting underrepresented minorities who want to pursue academic careers.

To that end, the program funds institutions as well as students to engage in activities that will lead to increases in doctoral degrees granted to minority students.  There currently are 23 AGEPS (in 2004).  The “primary partner” of each alliance is a doctoral-degree granting institution, with both PhD-granting and non-doctoral institutions serving as “secondary partners” or feeders.  The alliances offer various kinds of support for students, including attendance at conferences, coordinated recruitment among partner institutions, proactive use of faculty in student recruitment, development of systemic mentoring and mentor training, faculty and student exchange programs, specific preparation for the professoriate, and more effective career counseling and career placement.

Support for early faculty careers is growing, through such avenues as provision for faculty release time, special workshop/seminar support costs, travel between institutions (for joint research, etc.), and peer mentoring stipends.
 

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