APS Bridge Program


Students beginning graduate studies face several significant transitions. In addition to adjusting to new academic challenges, they are often moving to a new location away from their homes or immediate family support networks, taking on new levels of financial independence and responsibility, and navigating new cultural surroundings.

Particularly if students are new to the area or inexperienced in living on their own, they can place their academic progress at risk by living in places where they have difficulty getting to and from campus or where they are taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords; or by signing leases they cannot afford. Such uninformed personal decisions can have lasting effects on a student’s ability to meet degree requirements and join study groups, and can cause unnecessary stress.

Helping students manage these transitions can be critical to their success. Having students arrive a few weeks before the beginning of the semester provides time to find optimal housing, receive an introduction to the local physics community, and orient to the graduate student culture. It also allows faculty to place students in appropriate courses.

Effective Practices

De-emphasize the differences between bridge program students and other graduate students.

Strive to create a friendly and supportive environment for students.

Help new students identify appropriate housing, transportation, and banking options before they come to campus.

Tailor your course sequence to promote community among students.

Develop ways for new students to work collaboratively as they take core courses.

Use a pre-course assessment in addition to undergraduate grades to more accurately assign students to courses.