ASCEND Scholars

The ASCEND Scholars program is designed to prepare the students for the important transition from undergraduate- to graduate-level training, requiring the Scholars to incorporate higher-order thinking in addition to learning the basic skills and concepts from their undergraduate courses. The ASCEND Scholars' curriculum is designed to increase their mathematical skills, expose them to the latest technologies in the sciences, and develop their critical thinking and communication skills. Extramural research experiences are designed to give our Scholars the basic skills for successful transition into a research-intensive graduate school program in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences.

Selection of ASCEND Scholars:

Students selected to participate in the ASCEND program will be drawn from those who complete the Summer Research Institute (SRI). Upon completing the SRI, 20 students who exhibit strong interest in biomedical, social, and behavioral research as evidenced by key indicators of potential program success, will be selected to participate as ASCEND Scholars. Key indicators include:

  • Scores on an "attitude toward research" measure.
  • Assessment of weekly reflection papers.
  • Selection of team research project for ASCEND funding.
  • Ratings by advanced peers and program directors.

Other criteria/requirements:

  • Students will be rising sophomores and rising juniors from multiple disciplines.
  • Students must express and show interest in the biological or behavioral/social sciences.
  • Students selected for program participation will remain in the program for a minimum of two years.
  • Students are required to have and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) prior to and during their tenure with the program.
  • Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Students who are not accepted as ASCEND Scholars will have the opportunity to apply for the MBRS-RISE, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program (LSAMP) programs, Leadership Alliance, and other undergraduate programs.

ASCEND Scholar activities will include:
  • Two-year paid traineeship (i.e., partial tuition, monthly stipends, and travel funds).
  • Development of Individual Development Plan that specifies the scholar's learning objectives, training experiences, and timeframe for completing objectives.
  • Coursework in quantitative methods, and quantitative training modules.
  • Participation in career development activities and workshops (e.g., preparing a curriculum vita and interviewing skills).
  • Participation in a two-day critical thinking and problem solving workshop.
  • Participation in workshops in ethical conduct in the biomedical and/or behavioral sciences.
  • Participation in graduate school preparation workshops.
  • Spending a minimum of 10 hours per week working on research, mentoring and skill-building activities.
  • Completion of GRE course and practice exams.
  • Taking the GRE no later than fall semester of the senior year.
  • Community Research Outreach.
  • Participate in MSU Writing Center workshops.
  • Present individual and/or team projects at the MSU Annual Undergraduate and Graduate Research Symposium.
  • Present research at undergraduate and professional conferences.
  • Attend a weekly interdisciplinary seminar series, and present at the conclusion of the seminar series.
  • Apply to and participate in external summer research internships in the summer following the sophomore or junior year.
  • Research graduate programs that offer advanced degrees in biomedical or behavioral and social sciences.
  • During the fall semester of the senior year, apply to a minimum of six schools for admission into a PhD program.
  • Attend a minimum of two professional conferences to enhance networking skills.
  • Attend the annual NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair.