DREAM (Distributed Research Apprenticeships for Master’s)

The Distributed Research Apprenticeships for Master’s (DREAM) is an NSF-funded program for students with non-computing science bachelor’s degrees who are working to earn an M.S. degree in computing and enter the tech field. Students in a “bridge to MS in CS” type of program, such as programs offered by the MSCS Pathways to Computing Consortium, are eligible to apply. 

The MS in CS for non-majors initiative presents an exciting opportunity to recruit a new population of students into computing PhD programs. DREAM consortium students engage in research projects over a 3-4 month period and receive a $12,000 stipend, as well as mentoring, professional development, and cohort community activities. The goal of DREAM is to increase the number of students pursuing a PhD in Computer Science who are from groups historically minoritized in tech and, in so doing, help diversify computing programs.

Each DREAM student is matched with both a faculty advisor from their school and a mentor from another consortium school, and all advisors and mentors participate in a training on research-based mentoring practices for students historically minoritized in tech. In addition, DREAM students engage in virtual community activities during their DREAM experience. These include a Slack channel for regular communication, monthly Zoom meetups where a guest speaker discusses their journey to a PhD, and a final Zoom meetup for students to present their work. Participants generate two reports as part of their research, and some have even had their work published. In addition, students develop a website with information detailing their involvement in the DREAM program. These webpages are openly accessible to anyone interested in learning about the DREAM program or participants’ experiences. The DREAM participants’ pages are publicly accessible to anyone interested in learning about the DREAM program or our participants’ experiences. You can view two examples here and here.

DREAM draws its inspiration from CRA-WP’s Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program, which has been successful at encouraging undergrads from diverse backgrounds to enroll in Computer Science graduate programs. If successful, DREAM will be scaled nationwide in the coming years and will offer diverse students a pathway to a doctoral degree in Computer Science, preparing needed diverse computing professionals and faculty.

To learn more about DREAM, please reach out to DREAM@cra.org

“The DREAM program gave me the unique opportunity to explore my research interests with the kind of funding that is generally only available for REU programs or PhD students. It filled a necessary gap in support for non-traditional grad students such as myself, which gave me the space to explore research at the graduate level and cemented my plan to pursue a PhD in computational biology.”

“This program has changed my perception of research as well as the way I speak to other women who are considering research.”

“I have decided to pursue a MS thesis since completing my DREAM research in order to expand on my summer research.”

“I am so grateful for this experience and the opportunity to be part of a team that is working on overcoming the communication barriers between deaf and hearing.”