Transitioning to the PhD Program

Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge students are not automatically guaranteed admission to PhD-granting programs at Vanderbilt. The expectation is that a Bridge student who has satisfied the requirements in this document will receive consideration by the Vanderbilt admissions committee as having demonstrated strong potential for success in the Vanderbilt program. Admission to the Vanderbilt PhD program will be decided by the standard admissions procedures of the Vanderbilt graduate program. The policy of Vanderbilt’s graduate programs is to admit students for whom the total of the evidence strongly indicates that the student is capable of completing the PhD degree. All students in the Vanderbilt PhD program receive financial support, in the form of Teaching Assistant and/or Research Assistant support, for a minimum of four years. Requirements for admission to the Vanderbilt PhD program through the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program are:

  1. Complete the requirements for the Fisk MA degree. Admission can be offered contingent upon the student completing the Fisk degree.
  2. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA overall, and must achieve either A or B grades in the “core” courses (see course grid for each of the programs, below). Core courses must be taken either at Vanderbilt or their approved equivalents taken at Fisk; Vanderbilt courses and their Fisk equivalents will be counted as satisfying the core requirements at Vanderbilt (provided the above minimum grades are achieved).
  3. Have already taken at least one course at Vanderbilt during the Master’s phase of the program. Additional courses at Vanderbilt are highly recommended. As noted above, the student must receive at least a B grade in each core course taken at Vanderbilt for that course to count toward PhD graduate program credit upon transition to the PhD program.
  4. Pre-interview, typically in November or December of the second year of the Master’s program, with the Director of Graduate Recruiting of the Vanderbilt PhD program of interest, e.g. Biological Sciences, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (or any of the biologically focused graduate programs at Vanderbilt), Chemistry, Physics, or Materials Science. The purpose of the meeting is for the Director of the relevant PhD Bridge Program to meet the student, to learn from the Bridge Program steering committee whether the student has satisfactorily completed the admission requirements, and to learn the student’s research interests in order to effectively advance the student’s application in the deliberations of the relevant Graduate Admissions Committee.
  5. Complete the Vanderbilt application for the relevant PhD program by the December or January deadline of the year for which Fall admission is being sought.
  6. A minimum of three letters of recommendation.

Note: While in the Master’s phase, student's academic and financial matters will typically be handled through Fisk University, though there are some cases where Master’s students are paid directly through Vanderbilt. Please clarify for yourself where all of your financial statements and paperwork must be submitted.