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

Would you like to work in an R&D Department to develop technology for the future? Are you interested in robotics, machine learning, or neural engineering? Have you been in the work force and are looking to advance your professional opportunities? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this fully paid Master’s Research program is for you!

What is the BRIDGE Fellowship

Unlike other Master’s Programs, the MS2PhD BRIDGE at The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) or Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) provides you with the unique opportunity to lead your own research project. You will be mentored by a group of experts in the field of robotics/automated systems, machine learning/artificial intelligence, or neural engineering to launch your scientific career in any of these fields of relevance to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Your coursework from our top institutions will be tailored to inform your research project and you will have access to professional development training, including technical writing, oral communication, and ethics in science. Importantly, you will have the opportunity to engage with various scientists within the Pittsburgh community and Nationwide at scientific conferences where you will present your work. Finally, you will have a fully paid internship experience at a National Laboratory with potential future employers.

As a result of your participation in the MS2PhD BRIDGE fellowship program you will earn a fully paid Masters (with Research Thesis), paving your way to complete your PhD and launch your career as a scientist in a University, Research Institute, or Industry!

Financial Support

The MS2PhD BRIDGE fellowship offers you full financial support! Financial support covers tuition, health insurance, a monthly stipend to cover personal expenses, as well as travel to scientific conferences during the 2.5 years duration of the Master’s program.

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 Fellowship 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 strongly encouraged to apply.

Student Testimonials 

“I have enjoyed being in the BRIDGE program and have found a lot of advantages to it compared to a normal degree process. The added support, the opportunity for research rotations, the greater focus on professional improvement, and many other little things have really added to the graduate school experience. I would recommend the BRIDGE program since it offers a lot of opportunities that really help in expanding your skills and professional experiences.”

Edgar Canario - Advisor: Jennifer Collinger Project: Identifying neural correlates of attention in EEG signals during BCI tasks

"My experience through the BRIDGE program has been great. I moved into Pittsburgh not knowing anyone in the area; having a cohort through the program was important for starting a friend group."

Colin Ancalmo​ - Advisor: Sneha Prabha Narra​ Project: Using irregular powders in laser directed energy deposition​.

Living in Pittsburgh

So, you’re interested in the MS2PhD BRIDGE fellowship, but why move to Pittsburgh? Firstly, Pittsburgh has been named six times as one of the top 5 most livable cities in the United States since 2000 by The Economist, Forbes and Places Rated Almanac, and they aren’t wrong! With many international students calling Pittsburgh their second home, Pittsburgh offers many different distinct neighborhoods that can give you the feeling of living in a small town, to complete urban living, all connected by our bus system that can take you anywhere in the city!

Pittsburgh offers a wide range of leisure activities, from strolling in our rich history and distinct architecture to our beautiful parks and 90 different neighborhoods! Pittsburgh has plenty of entertainment options as well, with our unique cuisine that distinguishes us amongst other cities, to our cutting edge art scene boasting several museums and countless galleries, there is something here for everyone!

That’s not all! Pennsylvania is one of the top five states with the highest employment rates of bioengineers in the United States, with Pittsburgh itself being named a Top 25 city worldwide projected to grow into an industrial hub of the future (Valuer)!


Inclusion Activities

We understand that adapting to a new city can be daunting. Thus, we organize several inclusion activities so that you can connect with other people and make friends far from home!

From the very beginning of your journey here you will meet other MS2PhD BRIDGE fellows and members of our community. You will get the chance to participate in mentor-mentee training to better build your relationship with your mentor and ensure proper communication between you both. Moreover, we like making field trips to visit DoD research laboratories in the Midwest or hang out with other students from diverse backgrounds at the PittSTRIVE retreat.

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.


Participating Institutions

Pitt Swanson Bioengineering logo CMU mechanical engineering logo DoDSTEM Logo


Research Areas

Bridge program

For more information and to apply

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