WCER launches $1.5 million study of 6 Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Bascom Hall, Bascom Hill and the central University of Wisconsin-Madison campus are pictured in...
Bascom Hall, Bascom Hill and the central University of Wisconsin-Madison campus are pictured in an aerial view during autumn on Oct. 12, 2013. Clockwise from the left, major campus facilities include South Hall, Birge Hall, Van Vleck Hall, Van Hise Hall, Carillon Tower and North Hall. In the background at right is Lake Mendota. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking west. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)(WSAW)
Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 10:57 AM CDT
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A new partnership with the United Negro College Fund and UW-Madison's Counseling Psychology Department will be studying internship programs at six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that have a high number of STEM graduates.

The $1.5 million study was announced on Thursday. It will examine students’ experiences with their internships and how these experiences may impact their future wages, employment status and vocational self-efficacy.

The three-year study will be part of a larger College Internship Study by The Center for Research on College-to-Workforce Transitions (CCWT).

“At too many institutions, we simply don’t know enough about the quality of internships, and if colleges are prepared to support what are effectively complex college-employer partnerships," said CCWT Director Matt Hora. "The field especially lacks insights into how internship programs are structured and experienced in the unique socio-cultural and historical contexts of HBCUs.”

LaToya Owens, director of Learning and Evaluation for the United Negro College Fund said there is a real need in higher education for a study that zeroes in on the actual internship experiences of underrepresented students.

“We really don’t know what types of experiences African American students are having during their internships and how that translates to their ability to transition into the workforce," said Owens. "I believe this study will give us those answers.”

The study will include surveys and focus groups with students, and interviews with employers and career services staff at six HBCUs. Those include Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, Morgan State University in Maryland and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia.