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Academic Pathways

An Initiative For Academic Diversity

The Academic Pathways program is designed to prepare recently graduated doctoral students (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) and/or a law degree (J.D.) for competitive academic careers. The need is particularly acute to develop faculty candidates who come from diverse racial, ethnic and other backgrounds and experiences, as differing experiences, views and perspectives are of exceptional value for academic institutions in their research and educational roles.

Academic institutions, including Vanderbilt, have made great strides in recruiting and training undergraduate and graduate students coming from diverse groups that are underrepresented in the educational arena. Institutions have been less successful in attracting these students into postdoctoral training positions, and the challenge becomes particularly acute at the transition to the faculty level. To continue to make strides on our campus in the education of the best and brightest students from all backgrounds and settings, and to embrace the diversity that makes Vanderbilt a leader in research and scholarship and a unique training environment for the next generation of thinkers and scholars, we must support the career development of future academics that reflect the diversity of our society.

The Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellowship creates a bridge between academic training and entry-level faculty positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Essential elements of the program include the creation of substantial “protected time” for the pursuit of the fellow’s academic and scholarly objectives, the construction of a robust mentoring architecture, and the development of the “soft skills” so important for success in today’s academic setting.  Specific elements of the program will include: leadership training, grant and manuscript writing and preparation, a multi-level mentoring framework, and connections to relevant resources and training across campus. These opportunities will be individualized based on the academic discipline of fellows with similar formats for the humanities, social science, and life/physical/biomedical science areas.

NSFThis program is sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Office of the Provost with additional funding from the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate of the National Science Foundation.

Vanderbilt provides a unique environment for fellows because of:

  • Unparalleled interdisciplinary research and scholarship opportunities framed around our intimate geography (all ten schools on a single campus) combined with a collegial and collaborative spirit. The Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellowship Program capitalizes on these strengths and emphasizes training in multidisciplinary approaches with a mentoring structure that builds expertise across disciplinary borders. These elements provide the ideal environment for new discoveries to happen.
  • Discipline-specific training in traditional areas of research and scholarship.
  • Individualized, tailored opportunities for teaching, mentoring, and service to enhance the preparation and competitive profile of fellows.
  • Unique partnerships with local HBCUs, including Fisk University, Tennessee State University, and Meharry Medical College.

See a news article about this exciting program initiative:
Building stronger, more diverse pipeline of future faculty is aim of new postdoctoral program

Areas of Training

The Academic Pathways program is open to all programs of study within the College of Arts & Science, Owen Graduate School of Management, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, School of Divinity, School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Nursing, and School of Medicine.


Academic Pathways Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $60,000 for two years along with benefits, travel funding, and a research allowance.


The Vanderbilt Academic Pathways Program Application 2019 may be made electronically at Interfolio.

The application is open now until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on November 1, 2019 .

Program Contact

For questions and additional information regarding the Academic Pathways program please contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Academic Pathways Fellowship Symposium

Each year, a group of finalists are brought to campus to participate in the annual Academic Pathways Symposium.  The 2020 will be held Friday, February 21, in room 1003, E. Bronson Ingram College.

AP Symposium Flyer