ASCEND Scholars

The ASCEND Scholars program is designed to prepare students for the important transition from undergraduate- to graduate-level training in health research, 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 skills and experience for successful transition into a research-intensive graduate school program in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences.

ASCEND Scholars Online Application

Selection of ASCEND Scholars:

In the past, students selected to participate in the ASCEND program were drawn from those who completed the Summer Research Institute (SRI). Now, Scholars are selected based on their achievements in the Student Research Center, as well as their research interests and experience and academic criteria. Based on these qualifications, up to 20 students who exhibit strong interest in biomedical research will be selected to participate as ASCEND Scholars.

Students selected to become ASCEND Scholars must meet the following criteria:

  • Rising juniors with at least 50 credits.
  • 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.
  • Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Demonstrate a strong interest in biomedical, behavioral/social science research and a strong interest in improving the health of their communities and the country.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to service (at MSU and in the community).
  • Be members of or join the ASCEND Student Research Center, and demonstrate substantial engagement in SRC activities.
  • Enrollment in SCIE 200 and/or research experience preferred (e.g., summer internship).
  • Indend to attend graduate school in a biomedical, behavioral/social science discipline, and plan to pursue a career in health-relevant research. Note, "biomedical sciences" includes many disciplines you might not have considered such, e.g. informatics, engineering, material sciences, food sciences etc. Please explore the National Institute of Health Website:

If selected as an ASCEND Scholar, must be willing to commit up to two years of funded mentoring, career development, and research training. This will include:

  • A commitment of active involvement in a research project for a minimum of 10 hours/week during the academic year and full time in the summer.
  • Completion and regular updates of an Individual Development Plan to assist with academic/career planning.
  • Willingness to participate in an external summer research training experience during the summer between junior and senior year.
  • Complete additional credit hours for the ASCEND program course.
  • Participate in workshops in ethical conduct in the biomedical and/or behavioral sciences.
  • Participate in graduate school preparation workshops.
  • Completion of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation activities.
  • Prepare graduate school applications to a minimum of 6 PhD and/or MD/PhD programs in the fall of senior year.
  • Participate in all required evaluation activities. This program is part of a national study on student experiences and career choices funded by the National Institutes of Health. There are two levels of evaluation: site-level, through Morgan State University, and national, through the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA serves as the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) for the national effort and is collecting information about the experiences and career choices of a variety of students such as yourself. Biomedical and STEM student education nationally may benefit from your participation. By submitting an application, you are enrolling in this study and giving permission for your school to share information from your application, as well as selected information from your school's educational records, with the Morgan State evaluators and the CEC at UCLA. Examples of this information include your name, date of birth and the email address you provide on this application. You are also giving Morgan State permission to give your contact information to the CEC at UCLA so that you can be invited to participate in annual surveys. Morgan State evaluators and the CEC at UCLA may also ask you to be part of focus groups and interviews as part of the local and national evaluations. Your responses will be used for research purposes only and will be protected. Any information that is obtained in connection with this study and that can be identified with you will be protected and secured to the extent permitted by law.

Students from all majors who meet the above criteria are encouraged to apply. Students who are not selected as ASCEND Scholars may be able to become ASCEND Assocates and are encouraged to participate in ASCEND activities.

ASCEND Scholar benefits and activities include (but are not limited to):
  • Two-year paid traineeship (i.e., partial tuition, monthly stipends, and travel funds).
  • Development of Individual Development Plan.
  • Training in quantitative and quantitative methods.
  • Participation in workshops on ethical conduct of research, critical thinking, problem solving, graduate school preparation, writing, etc.
  • A minimum of 10 hours per week working on research, mentoring and skill-building activities.
  • Presentation of Scholar's own research at undergraduate and professional conferences.
  • Attending a minimum of two professional conferences to enhance networking skills.
  • Applying to external summer research internships.
  • Applying to a minimum of six schools in the fall of senior year for admission into a graduate health research program.