Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Recruitment and academic success at the Master of Science (MS) degree level is an often-overlooked line of inquiry. The Stellar Engineering Students Graduate Program Scholarship (SEnS GPS), a National Science Foundation S-STEM funded program at Boise State University, is beginning to bridge this gap in our knowledge of masters-level students. Boise State is a medium-sized, metropolitan, rural serving institution in the mountain west with a large population of typically underserved student groups.

SEnS GPS is investigating the experiences of computer science and engineering MS students from pre-decision and recruitment to graduation. This project is working to determine if best practices in the areas of recruitment, retention, and persistence to degree at the undergraduate level translate successfully to the MS level, looking specifically at low-income, academically talented, first-generation, and generally underrepresented students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

SEnS GPS is currently in its second year and will graduate its first cohort of 10 students this May. Sixteen students have participated in the program as scholars (scholars are defined as receiving NSF-sponsored scholarships) and 18 as general, non-scholar participants. All students received pre-decision and application mentoring, graduate program culture and expectations programming, cohort building activities, and staff support beyond the faculty advisor.

Initial research has identified the pre-recruitment process as a critical juncture for college students when deciding to pursue an MS degree in a STEM discipline. This paper will discuss research-based pre-recruitment strategy development and initial qualitative data related to strategy successes and challenges encountered in the program over the last two years. An overview of significant self-reported education progression decision-making factors gathered from college seniors, and current graduate students will also be discussed.

Copyright Statement

© 2022, American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN.