The Summer Research Opportunities Program at Michigan State University
By Jamil S. Scott, Georgetown University, Kesicia A. Dickinson, Michigan State University, Eric Gonzalez Jeunke, Michigan State University, and Steven Thomas, Michigan State University
The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) is an intensive summer-research experience for undergraduate students who are interested in attending graduate school. SROP has been a program at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities for more than 30 years. It counts 610 of its more than 16,000 alumni as PhD recipients, with more than 3,000 others pursuing nonacademic careers after receiving another type of graduate training (B1G Academic Alliance 2018, 4). SROP is purposefully geared toward increasing the number of prepared underrepresented students in graduate programs, including first-generation college students and low-income undergraduates. Students are placed with faculty research mentors for 8 to 10 weeks during the summer and they receive extensive training separately through SROP workshops. One-on-one research-mentoring and group-oriented workshops provide participants with a preview of graduate school before they apply. Not only does the experience prepare many students for graduate school, it also helps others decide whether graduate school is the right choice. Spending a summer on campus often creates a relationship between the student and the program that helps faculty mentors compete for the best students later. SROP is one of the most transformative graduate partnerships in our department’s history.