Deploying Holistic Admissions and Critical Support

By Monica J. Plisch, PI, APS, Casey W. Miller, PI, RIT

The issue of diversity in STEM is of national importance. The future needs of the US technological workforce necessitate cultivating the entire domestic talent pool, especially groups historically and currently underrepresented in STEM: women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Successfully transitioning underrepresented students to graduate studies is key to this vision, but the majority of STEM PhD programs are failing in this regard. Rochester Institute of Technology and the American Physical Society (APS) will explore interventions that may help increase the access of US women and underrepresented minorities to physics PhD programs and increase the PhD completion rates of these groups.

This innovative project investigated how physics faculty approach admissions and student retention. Evaluation data from this project allowed the design of training materials to help faculty use more inclusive practices. Because these interventions are likely to be transferrable to different fields and institutions, the project has the potential to revolutionize how STEM graduate admission is carried out and to increase the completion rates of US citizens in STEM PhD programs.