“Who gets to become a professor and who doesn’t? It’s all based on the luck of who you get as an advisor.”
– UC Berkeley 3rd year Ph.D. student of color 


The pathway to the professoriate for BIPOC doctoral students is often one that relies on the quality of the relationship between the academic advisor and the student. The extent to which the faculty advisor understands a student’s career goals and is adequately situated to provide the mentorship the student needs, serves as a foundation to a beneficial relationship and demystifies the process for the student.

In conversations and consultations with current BIPOC students, they indicated a lack of transparency about the process and the need for a roadmap on how to get there while minimizing obstacles. BIPOC students indicated a shift away from initial career aspirations in the professoriate to those in higher education administration, community activism and industry when their academic experiences and record of publications did not match those of their peers, and faculty members displayed inadequate interest in facilitating robust advising and academic success.

The path to the coveted tenure track faculty position at research universities and many liberal arts colleges and Master’s-granting universities is often marked by a student’s ability to have a prolific publication record. With the current saturation of the academic job market, publishing expectations have further increased across disciplines at research universities. Research among UC Berkeley STEM Ph.D. students indicated that “[t]o fully understand disparities in hiring at the level of the professoriate, it is necessary to move beyond comparisons of normative student outcomes (e.g., graduation rates), and to assess instead whether disparities exist in the rates of publication in peer-reviewed outlets as graduate students in STEM fields consider and enter the academic job market. We underscore publications as a key factor that needs to be taken into account for increasing diversity within the professoriate.” Mendoza-Denton et al. (2017)

Path to the Professoriate Program

Building on learnings from the Berkeley Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty, the Path to the Professoriate Program engages up to 40 first-year Ph.D. students from underrepresented backgrounds in workshops and structured activities around demystifying the route in their discipline to the Assistant Professorship and establishing and building a publication pipeline.

In the fall semester, participants in the program will engage in a launch workshop featuring a panel consisting of tenured faculty members of color sharing their graduate student experiences and providing advice to program participants on navigating their doctoral programs. Activities in the fall semester will additionally require participants to “reverse-engineer” their path to the professoriate by conducting informational interviews with tenured faculty members, assistant professors and senior graduate students in their discipline or at the type of institution where they aspire to be hired. Participants will meet monthly in disciplinary cohorts.

  • Fall Deliverable: Individualized roadmap to the professoriate

In the spring semester, participants will focus on writing productivity and the publication process in their academic discipline. Workshops in the spring will explore issues of anxiety with writing; imposter syndrome; and writing to multiple audiences. The spring semester will also include a writing retreat for participants. A spring panel featuring tenured faculty of color and journal editors will explore successful approaches to academic publishing.

  • Spring Deliverable: Individualized publication workflow


Participants will receive a $1,000 stipend for involvement in the program ($500 payable after each deliverable) over the course of the academic year.


Applications are welcomed from all first year UC Berkeley doctoral students.

Deadline for applications is November 24, 2020 at 5 p.m. Pacific time.

2020 Application

Please email grad.diversity@berkeley.edu with any questions

This program is funded by the UCOP 2020-2021 President’s Pre-Professoriate Fellows Program and facilitated by the Office for Graduate Diversity at UC Berkeley.