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Mission, History & Impact

Mission

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program was developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. PhD scientists and engineers who will pursue careers in research and education, with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become, in their own careers, leaders and creative agents for change. The program was intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education, for students, faculty and institutions, by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It was also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to a world-class, broadly inclusive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce.

History

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) was created in response to the 1995 National Academy of Science's Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy report and the Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences report (NSF 96-21). Both reports recommended that graduate science and engineering programs should:

  • be more flexible and provide more interdisciplinary options for students
  • include options for education and training grants
  • increase participation of women and underrepresented minorities to be in science and engineering research and training
  • provide students with broad based professional and ethical skill training and career information.

Since its inception in 1998, 278 IGERT grants have been awarded and almost 6,500 trainees have been funded, at 41 states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and over 100 universities. IGERT awards are approximately $3.0-3.2 million for a 5 year program, with the major portion of the funds being used for Ph.D. graduate student stipends of $30,000 a year and training expenses.

Impact

Since its beginning in 1998, NSF's IGERT program has had a significant impact on the trainees, on the awardee institutions, and upon the fields of scientific inquiry represented. The IGERT program has made 278 awards and has provided funding for approximately 6,500 graduate students. Studies have found that the IGERT program has had a measurable impact in altering the graduate education experiences of participating students, supporting faculty engagement in interdisciplinary teaching and research, and advancing interdisciplinary graduate education within host institutions.

IGERT Program Reports: