About the Program

The Bridges to the Doctorate (BTD) program activities are designed to strengthen students' academic preparation, research training, and professional skills. M.S. students will complete a two-year Master's degree program at CSULB that culminates in the defense of a Master's research thesis.

students working in research lab

In addition, BTD students will present their work at professional conferences, be active in the BTD Career Training Community at CSULB, and become familiar with research activities and opportunities at UCI. BTD students will take the Biomedical Colloquium to increase skills in reading primary literature and scientific writing. BTD students will gain leadership skills by serving as peer-mentors.

Completing a research degree in two years will require discipline and commitment, and will produce students ready to tackle biomedical Ph.D. programs at research-intensive universities. BTD students are not required to enter UCI Ph.D. programs, but commitment to earning a biomedical Ph.D. is a program requirement.


BTD students receive a stipend (approximately $27,000 per year) and partial tuition support (60%) as well as funds for research supplies and travel to present research results at professional conferences. BTD students receive two years of support.

Note: In some cases Bridges to the Doctorate stipend and tuition support may not cover all expenses. Teaching Assistant and Graduate Assistant positions are an excellent option to fill the gap.

students pipetting


The BTD program is a continuation of the successful NIH-funded RISE M.S.-to-Ph.D. Program (2015-2021). RISE M.S.-to-Ph.D. students entered Ph.D. programs at the following universities/research institutes:

  • Albert Einstein Medical College
  • City of Hope
  • Claremont Graduate University
  • Griffith University, Australia
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • USC

The Bridges the Doctorate Program is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T32GM138075.