Did you complete a BS degree in a CISE-related discipline between July 1, 2016, and June 31, 2019?
Are you interested in returning for a Ph.D. in CS?
Are you a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident?
If so, you may be eligible for the NSF CS Grad4US Graduate Fellowship.
The objective of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Graduate Fellowships (CSGrad4US) is to increase the number of diverse, domestic graduate students pursuing research and innovation careers in the CISE fields: computer science, computer engineering, or information science.
The goals of the CSGrad4US Mentoring Program are:
To guide returning students through the application process towards a successful CS PhD admission and school selection
To mentor them through the transition to PhD graduate study in the first year towards high retention.
Specific topics include the admissions process, preparation of all components of a strong graduate application, differences between graduate programs at different institutions, how to compare programs with respect to the Fellow’s goals and background, and general guidelines on making a selection among admission acceptances.
The CSGrad4US Mentoring Program will provide not only general graduate application advice and guidance, but also provide missing larger context and network to students returning from the workforce. These goals are achieved through group mentoring sessions followed by individual coaching during the application and decision making process and the first year in graduate school.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (2123180). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
For Prospective Fellows
CSGrad4US Fellowship applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
Be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident;
Intend to apply for full-time enrollment in a research-based doctoral degree program in a CISE field (computer science, computer engineering, or information science) no later than Fall 2023;
Have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a CISE field between July 1, 2016, and June 31, 2019;
Not be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree-granting program for a CISE discipline at the time of the application (other than a professional master’s degree program); and
Have never previously accepted an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
NSF seeks candidates from a broad array of backgrounds and strongly encourages women, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities to apply.
Our intention is to recruit a representative set of mentors and coaches that reflects the diversity of institutions, demographics, and scholarship among the computing research community.
Group Mentors will assist in the development of content describing the graduate application process, and then deliver this content through 5-6 group mentoring sessions.
The CSGrad4US group mentoring focuses on the admissions process, preparation of all components of a strong graduate application, differences between graduate programs at different institutions and how to compare them with respect to the Fellow’s goals and background, and general guidelines on making a selection among admission acceptances.
Summer Materials Development: The co-PIs and group mentors will finalize the topics and develop the material for group mentoring sessions and panels. They will organize topics into 5-6 group mentoring sessions, with some adjustments made once the background of the Fellows is known.
Fall Application-Process Semester: The group mentoring sessions will start in August 2021 and will be delivered virtually in the evening. Due to time zone differences, we expect each session will be offered twice. Each session will include time for Q&A, and all sessions will be recorded. We expect that group mentoring on graduate school applications will conclude by mid-October.
Spring Decision-Making Semester: Once students have received admission decisions in the spring, we will run a group mentoring session focused on the Graduate School selection process that includes how to prepare for campus visits, questions to ask potential advisors, and other topics that assist the decision-making process. We expect that some of the panel content will be driven by the fellows.
First Year Graduate School: Group mentoring will continue with a small set of sessions to build the cohort and help students succeed in the transition during the first year. In the fall 2022, there will be a set of monthly sessions about transition to graduate school, good skills to develop for success, life-balance, and networking activities to strengthen the Fellow cohort. In the spring, the Fellows will be given the opportunity to attend the CRA-WP Graduate Cohort Workshop, which contains a track for first-year graduate students and opportunities for individual advising for personal conversations.
Overall, we expect a group mentor to spend a total of 30-40 hours during summer, fall and spring, at $100 per hour. It includes developing and facilitating the online group mentoring program addressing all aspects of the graduate application process, help develop sustainable mentoring materials, and develop individual mentoring/coaching material.
Coaches will provide individual advice and mentoring for fellows.
The CSGrad4US group mentoring sessions will be coupled with regular individual coaching sessions taking place from mid-September through mid-December and additional sessions in the spring. Serving as coaches, experienced CS faculty will provide individual help with graduate application development and identification of PhD programs matching the student’s interest and background. Individual coaching builds on the material covered in the group mentoring sessions.
Fall Application-Process Semester: To encourage consistency across coaches and guide coaches in this process, each coach will follow the same framework, which includes a 12-week timeline and coaching prompts for discussion/guidance and mentee actions.
The sequencing of the objectives is based on using earlier prepared materials to help with later prepared materials. Thus, we start with the resume to help with learning about the mentee’s experiences, strengths and weaknesses and we discuss the strengths and weaknesses an admission committee will see on the transcript. We then discuss and determine whom to request letters of reference from so that the requests can be made early. We spend time researching and choosing targeted schools. If any schools require GRE general and/or subject test scores, we determine how to prepare for those tests and when to take them. We then focus on the content outlining and writing of the statement of purpose essay. The resume and statement of purposes are both needed to provide to reference letter writers. We discuss and draft requests for references. We determine if additional essays are needed and work toward completing those essays.
The coaches will mimic the quick assessment of the week’s materials and provide feedback from the perspective of the admissions review committee, then discuss how to modify the materials to improve the admission committee review outcome.
Spring Decision-Making Semester: Individual coaching will also take place after fellows have received admissions decisions in early spring. The goal is to help fellows understand the differences between departments and institutions and answer questions they have during the decision making process. The time a coach spends with a fellow in the spring is expected to vary considerably.
Coaches will be paid every 4 weeks at $100/hour, based on the time submitted in the weekly coaching logs. The hours spent providing services to mentees shall be capped at 15 hours per student. Should additional coaching time be required due to extenuating circumstances coaches must seek prior written approval from CRA Director of Programs, Erik Russell.
The training will start with the co-PIs providing relevant publications and studies to the group mentors and coaches, and organizing online discussion sessions based on the material shared. We plan on having two 90-minute sessions with the group mentors and the coaches. A repository of the material provided in advance plus notes from the training sessions will be created and shared with the group mentors and coaches. Training will draw from existing material providing insights and recommendations on successfully mentoring graduate students from historically underrepresented groups.
The topics to be addressed in the training sessions will be presented as situational case studies. Mentors and coaches will be given a short description of a potential fellow’s situation, with an example of a CV and a transcript. This will help ground the discussion on a specific, even if fictional, case.