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Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Division of Human Resource Development

The Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), located in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, serves as a focal point for NSF's agency-wide commitment to enhance the quality and excellence of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research by broadening the participation of underrepresented groups and institutions. HRD's programs aim to increase the participation and advancement of minority-serving institutions, women and girls, and persons with disabilities at every level of science and engineering enterprises including underrepresented minorities. By doing so, these programs contribute to the development of a diverse, internationally competitive, and globally engaged workforce of scientists, engineers, and well-prepared citizens.

All HRD programs seek to encourage access to and equity within STEM education. Thematically, these goals are realized via:

  • education research and demonstration;
  • enhancement of institutional education capacity;
  • enhancement of institutional research capacity;
  • large-scale implementation; and
  • recognition and dissemination.

HRD Programs According to Theme and Population


Minorities and Minority-Serving Institutions

Women And Girls

Persons with Disabilities

Education Research and Demonstration




Enhancement of Institutional Education Capacity




Enhancement of Institutional Research Capacity




Large-scale Implementation




Recognition and Dissemination




Minorities And Minority Serving Institutions

Minority groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines include American Indians/Alaskan Natives (Native Americans), African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Pacific Islanders. The Division of Human Resource Development (HRD) supports efforts that are focused on two major objectives: (1) supporting student activities and (2) strengthening the research capabilities of minority institutions. HRD programs represent a coherent effort to stimulate organizational and institutional change; markedly improve the quality of education opportunities available to minority and other students; and increase the quality and quantity of students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines.

1. Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP)

The AGEP Program seeks to significantly increase the number of American Indian/Alaskan Native (Native American), African American, Hispanic American, and Native Pacific Islander students receiving doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields customarily supported by NSF. The lack of role models and mentors in the professoriate constitutes a significant barrier to producing minority STEM doctoral graduates. NSF is particularly interested in increasing the number of minorities who will enter the professoriate in these disciplines.

Specific objectives of AGEP are to (1) develop and implement innovative models for recruiting, mentoring, and retaining minority students in STEM doctoral programs and (2) develop effective strategies for identifying and supporting underrepresented minorities who want to pursue academic careers.

The AGEP Program also supports a research effort to identify major factors that promote the successful transition of minority students from (1) undergraduate through graduate study; (2) course-taking in the early years of the graduate experience to independent research required for completion of a dissertation; and (3) the academic environment to the STEM workplace. To accomplish this, the research component will be informed by a portfolio of federal and private efforts in this arena in order to identify factors underlying exemplary as well as unsuccessful efforts.

Eligibility Requirements for AGEP

Alliances that consist of STEM doctoral degree-granting institutions are eligible to apply to the program. One institution must be designated as the lead institution for the project. Institutions in the United States and its territories that have documented success in graduating minority students at the Ph.D. level are strongly encouraged to participate. Alliances are encouraged to establish partnerships with minority-serving undergraduate institutions to enhance recruitment efforts, where appropriate.

2. Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST)

NSF recognizes that academic institutions with significant minority student enrollments play a vital role in conducting the research that contributes to our knowledge base in all disciplines and in educating minority students who go on to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The CREST Program makes substantial resources available to upgrade the capabilities of the most research-productive minority institutions. The program develops outstanding research centers through the integration of education and research. In addition, it serves to promote the production of new knowledge; increase the research productivity of individual faculty; and expand a diverse student presence in STEM disciplines. CREST projects enhance the effectiveness of related science and engineering activities within the project's area of research focus.

Eligibility Requirements for CREST

Institutions eligible to participate in CREST Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) awards must have the following:

  • Enrollments of 50 percent or more members of minority groups underrepresented in advanced levels of science and engineering (e.g., Alaskan Natives [Eskimo or Aleut], American Indian, African American, Native Pacific Islanders [Polynesian or Micronesian], Hispanic or Latino);
  • Graduate programs in NSF-supported fields of science or engineering;
  • Demonstrated strengths in NSF-supported fields, as evidenced by an existing or developing capacity to offer doctoral degrees in one or more science and engineering disciplines;
  • A willingness and capacity to serve as a resource center in one or more research thrust areas;
  • A demonstrated commitment and track record in enrolling and graduating minority scientists and engineers; and
  • Strong collaborations in the proposed field of research.

3. Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP)

HBCU-UP seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a means to broaden participation in the Nation’s STEM workforce. The program provides support for the implementation of comprehensive institutional strategies to strengthen STEM teaching and learning in ways that will improve the access and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM. Typical project implementation strategies include STEM course and curricular reform and enhancement; faculty professional development; supervised research and other active learning experiences for STEM undergraduates; student support; scientific instrumentation to improve STEM instruction; and other activities that meet institutional needs.

Eligibility Requirements

Historically Black Colleges and Universities that currently offer associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees in STEM fields are eligible.

4. Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP)

The LSAMP Program is designed to develop the comprehensive strategies necessary to strengthen the preparation and increase the number of minority students who successfully complete baccalaureates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This objective facilitates the long-term goal of increasing the production of doctorates in STEM fields, with an emphasis on entry into faculty positions.

The LSAMP Program requires each awardee to establish meaningful partnerships among academic institutions and encourages the inclusion of government agencies and laboratories, industry, and professional organizations. It is expected that successful partnerships will enable the development of approaches tailored to the institutional setting for achievement of program goals in STEM undergraduate education. Activities supported include student enrichment such as collaborative learning, skill development, and mentoring; academic enrichment, such as curricular and instructional improvement; and direct student support, such as summer activities.

Eligibility Requirements

With justification, nonprofit organizations may serve as members of the partnership. Academic institutions with a track record of educating underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines are eligible to apply to the LSAMP Program.

5. Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP)

TCUP provides awards to enhance the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction and outreach programs, with an emphasis on the leveraged use of information technologies at Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaskan Native-serving institutions, and Hawaiian Native-serving institutions. Support is available for the implementation of comprehensive institutional approaches to strengthen STEM teaching and learning in ways that improve access to, retention within, and graduation from STEM programs, particularly those that have a strong technological foundation. Through this program, assistance is provided to eligible institutions in their efforts to bridge the “digital divide” and prepare students for careers in information technology, science, mathematics, and engineering fields.

Proposed activities should be the result of careful analysis of institutional needs, address institutional and NSF goals, and have the potential to result in significant, sustainable improvement in STEM program offerings.

Typical TCUP project implementation strategies include curriculum enhancement, faculty professional development, undergraduate research and community service, academic enrichment, infusion of technology to enhance STEM instruction, collaborations, and other activities that meet institutional and community needs.

Eligibility Requirements for TCUP

Organizations that are eligible include Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaskan Native-serving institutions, and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions.

Women and Girls

Gender Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (GDSE)

All of the divisions within NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources encourage projects that will increase the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Because women are underrepresented in many disciplines, HRD supports research on focused interventions that are directed toward increasing the number of fully participating women in the mainstream of the Nation’s scientific and technological enterprises. GDSE specifically supports the following activities:

  • Research—This area seeks to enhance the multidisciplinary understanding of gender differences in human learning—behavioral, cognitive, affective, and social aspects—through sociopsychological, ethnographic, statistical, anthropological, economic, and organizational studies. The efforts in this area provide a research foundation for educational approaches, curriculum materials, and technological tools that are already developed or can be developed in the future. Emphasis is also placed on bridging research and educational practice in settings such as classrooms, informal learning sites, and technological learning environments. Results of PGE research projects should be cumulative, reproducible, sustainable, and scalable, supporting sustained improvement in educational practice.
  • Demonstration or "Model" Projects—This area employs evaluation methods to determine the effectiveness of new learning tools, pedagogies, professional development, or student programs and services. Demonstration projects apply research findings about girls’ learning preferences in the design of new curriculum materials, services, pedagogy, or instructor development programs. Successful or “model” projects may be institutionalized and replicated. Teacher and faculty development demonstrations test new ways to integrate the understanding and awareness of gender-inclusive practices into preservice and in-service programs and into professional standards and policies. It is anticipated that participants in demonstration projects will directly benefit from the learning experience and assimilate new behaviors.
  • Information Dissemination Activities—This area of GDSE supports projects focusing on the dissemination of research results or strategies for reducing the barriers for women and girls in STEM fields. Supported activities include media (e.g., videotapes and brochures), conferences, teleconferences, symposia, and workshops that bring together experts to discuss issues, projects, policies, and research related to the participation and achievement of women and girls in STEM. Dissemination projects take exemplary models and materials to a significant national audience.

Persons With Disabilities

Research in Disabilities Education (RDE)

The Research in Disabilities Education (RDE) Program supports efforts to increase the participation and achievement of persons with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. Meritorious projects from diverse institutions are supported via RDE demonstration, enrichment, and information dissemination (RDE-DEI) standard grants. Promising research efforts may then be developed further via continuing grants under the focused-research initiatives (RDE-FRI) program track. Finally, broadly applicable methods and products are disseminated for widespread use, commercialization, or inclusion in the activities of program-sponsored Regional Alliances for persons with disabilities in STEM education (RDE-RAD). RDE Alliances serve to inform the public, government, and industry about proven good practices in the classroom; promote broader awareness of disabilities issues; and define specific areas of accessibility and human learning in need of further attention by educators and the research community.

Crosscutting Initiatives

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM)

The White House established the PAESMEM Program to recognize the importance of role models and mentors in the academic, professional, and personal development of students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. PAESMEM identifies outstanding mentors and mentoring programs that enhance the experiences of underrepresented students in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. At the individual and institutional levels, PAESMEM awardees have been exemplary in their demonstration of the idea that the Nation must fully develop its human resources in STEM disciplines through the support of increased access by, and inclusion of, diverse populations.

Nominees, both individual and institutional, must have served as mentors or facilitated mentoring services for at least 5 years. Awards are made to (1) individuals who have demonstrated outstanding and sustained mentoring and effective guidance to a significant number of students at the K–12, undergraduate, or graduate level of education and (2) institutions that have, through their programming, enabled a substantial number of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science, mathematics, and engineering to pursue and complete relevant degree programs successfully. At the postsecondary level, these efforts must show that students have completed either a baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree.

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