MS-PhD Bridge Program

Boosting Research-Experiences for Increasing Doctorate Graduates in Engineering (BRIDGE)

  • Would you like to pursue a PhD, but unsure if you have adequate research experience?
  • Do you love science, math, and engineering?
  • Are you interested in developing technology for the future, but do not know where to start?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this program is for you.

“The innovation, prosperity, and security of the U.S. depends on the contributions of highly qualified personnel with advanced degrees in science and engineering.”

What is the BRIDGE Program

The BRIDGE program is a multi-institutional research training program (Pitt Bioengineering, Carnegie Mellon Mechanical Engineering, DoD National Laboratories) designed to increase the participation in higher education of individuals historically underrepresented in science and engineering. Barriers often limiting the access of underrepresented students to graduate programs are the lack of hands-on research experience and the lack of information about the professional value of advanced degrees. BRIDGE will dismantle these barriers by providing in-depth research training in topics of relevance to the Department of Defense (DoD): robotics, artificial intelligence, and neural engineering. As a result, the student will not only gain extensive research experience and appreciate the impact of science on real-world applications, but the participant will fulfill enough research hours and courses to earn a Master’s (with a Research Thesis).

BRIDGE training will facilitate the transition between undergraduate and graduate education, which will serve as a critical first step towards pursuing a Ph.D. Students participating in the BRIDGE program will gain the experience, knowledge, and self-confidence to excel at any
research university despite previous academic opportunities. Our BRIDGE program will also provide professional development training, including technical writing, oral communication, and ethic, as well as internship experiences with future employers.

Program Overview

This is a two-year program that consists of four (4) phases.

  1. Pre-grad Summer: Two (2) laboratory rotations (6-weeks each) with pre-selected BRIDGE mentors in either the Bioengineering Dept. at Pitt or the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at CMU.
  2. 1st BRIDGE year: Bachelor’s-to-Master’s transition. Part-time research effort in fall and spring semesters and full-time research effort during the summer.
  3. 2nd BRIDGE year: Master’s-to-PhD transition. Part-time research effort in fall and spring semesters.
  4. DoD Internship: 9-week to 12-week full-time research experience during the summer of the 2nd year of the BRIDGE program.

Financial Support

Financial support covers tuition, monthly stipend, health insurance benefits, travel and supplies allowances.

Admissions requirements

  • A Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering discipline
  • Must be U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
  • Minimum three letters of recommendation
  • Undergraduate transcript

Requirements to Complete BRIDGE Program

  • Presentation at a national or international conference
  • Conference or journal paper submission
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship or other funding application submission

Individuals from racial, ethnic, and disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


Participating Institutions

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Research Areas


For more information and to apply
University of Pittsburgh application
Carnegie Mellon University application

For more information, please contact:

headshot- Gelsy Torres-Oviedo, PhD
Gelsy Torres-Oviedo, PhD
Program Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh
headshot- Douglas Weber, PhD
Douglas Weber, PhD
Program Coordinator, Carnegie Mellon University