Bridges to the Doctorate Program

About the Program

The Alcorn State:Penn State University Bridges to the Doctorate Program is a National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded collaboration between Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi and The Pennsylvania State University at University Park, Pennsylvania. It is designed to foster students' matriculation directly into doctoral programs after completion of their master's degree in biological sciences from Alcorn State. This program was initially funded in 2006 for three years and was renewed for an additional five years.

Students spend the first two semesters of their master's in biological sciences program at Alcorn State. The following summer and fall semesters are spent at Penn State performing research and attending classes. Then, they return to Alcorn State for one more semester to write and defend their thesis, and graduate. After receipt of their master's degree, they enter a Penn State PhD program.

Watch two videos showcasing some of our Bridges alumni who are in PhD programs at Penn State. They will tell you about their experiences in their own words:
Video: Part I
Video: Part II

Program Goals

  • Support the transition of participating students from the master's program in the Department of Biological Sciences at Alcorn State into the PhD programs at Penn State.
  • Develop the research abilities of participating students.
  • Enhance the educational environment for students and faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at Alcorn State.
  • Increase access to doctoral programs for underrepresented students.

Program Benefits

  • Competitive stipend and paid tuition with continued enrollment in the program.
  • Entrance into a PhD program at Penn State (pending satisfactory completion of master's program).
  • Students participate in Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) professional development activities; weekly journal club meetings; and a Kaplan course for GRE preparation.

Participating Institutions

Alcorn State University

  • Alcorn State was the first state-supported institution of higher education for African Americans in the U.S.
  • Enrolls 2,700 full-time undergraduate students and 175 graduate students in master's programs.
  • Is a Carnegie Master's M institution and offers a master's degree in biology.
  • In 2002, the US News &World Report ranked Alcorn State “among America 's best master's universities in the South, Tier 2.”
  • The journal, Black Issues in Higher Education ranked Alcorn State fifth in the nation in producing African American graduates with bachelor's degrees in biological science, and number one in producing African American graduates with master's degrees in agricultural sciences.

The Pennsylvania State University

  • Penn State is a state-related Land Grant University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and enjoys world-class rankings.
  • Penn State is a Big Ten University and was recently ranked 15th among public universities by US News &World Report.
  • Penn State ranks 12th among U.S. universities in research and development expenditures.
  • Penn State includes members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
  • Penn State's graduates include Nobel Prize winners, and captains of industry, academia and government.
  • Penn State has 42,709 undergraduate students and 6,072 graduate students enrolled at its flagship campus at University Park .

Are you eligible for this program?

Are you:

  • Currently a master's student in biological science or chemistry at Alcorn State?


  • An undergraduate student planning to enroll in a master's in biological science or chemistry at Alcorn State?


  • A U.S. citizen?
  • Have a grade point average (GPS) of at least 3.0?
  • Willing to travel to Penn State for the summer and fall semesters to  complete a research and classroom experience?

If so, then contact:

Alcorn State:Penn State Bridges to the Doctorate
Attn: Dr. Bettaiya Rajanna
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Alcorn State University
Lorman , MS 39096
Phone: (704) 555-0125
Fax: (704) 555-0145

Alcorn State:Penn State Bridges to the Doctorate
Attn: Dr. Pamela Hankey
Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
105 Henning Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-0128