NSF supports the Council of Graduate Schools in efforts to broaden participation in the nation’s technology workforce

September 22, 2023

NSF investment will expand data collection activities and help recruit graduate students to open opportunities in key technologies

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced it will invest $5.8 million in two projects in collaboration with the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). The NSF investment will fund efforts to broaden participation in advanced degree programs in a range of key technologies highlighted in the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022" and provide data to help universities address challenges in recruiting and retaining domestic graduate students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

With an NSF investment of over $4.6 million over four years (NSF-2336484), the NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) and CGS will work together to expand an existing survey to collect information on graduate applications, admissions, enrollment and completion rates. By including approximately 60 institutions in the survey process, the findings will bring to light trends, barriers and opportunities to help NSF understand where to focus future investments in workforce development and help universities recruit a diverse range of students.

Additionally, NSF will provide over $1.1 million over five years (NSF-2331287) to help CGS expand its National Name Exchange (NNE) program. Originally established to help connect graduate schools to underrepresented students interested in pursuing graduate degrees, NSF and CGS aim to expand the number of institutions participating in NNE – including minority-serving institutions – and increase participation of groups underrepresented in STEM so that all Americans have the opportunity to engage in these programs. The expanded NNE will be a strategic tool to help universities recruit graduate students and fortify the pathway into careers in STEM. The funding will also help identify gaps in tracking data.

"NSF is pleased to work with the Council of Graduate Schools to help universities gain access to strategic tools to expand recruitment and enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds," said Erwin Gianchandani, assistant director for the TIP Directorate. "Improving data collection is key to identifying gaps and opportunities for expanding the STEM pipeline and building the nation’s workforce in key technologies. Through our combined work, universities will be able to access robust data that will help them clearly identify opportunities for achieving their recruitment and retention goals."

Through this work, NSF is addressing a mandate of the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022" to build up the nation’s workforce in key technologies. "This effort strategically complements new capacity-building programs out of the TIP Directorate, such as the Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) program," said Thyaga Nandagopal, director of TIP's Division of Innovation and Technology Ecosystems. "NSF is expanding the nation's capacity to create robust and sustainable innovation ecosystems to develop a highly-skilled national workforce."

"Broader access to STEM graduate programs is an essential ingredient in a strong workforce and economy, " said Suzanne Ortega, CGS president. "Until now, however, we have lacked critical data about student pathways into graduate school -- what kinds of information and support help students move from interest in a degree to matriculation. We are grateful to NSF for investing in these projects, which will deepen our understanding of students' educational pathways and help us identify and remove roadblocks on the path to degree completion, particularly in areas of national need.”

For more information on CGS and the National Name Exchange program, visit  https://cgsnet.org/data-insights/diversity-equity-inclusiveness/national-name-exchange