Arizona’s Science, Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS) Program

Arizona’s Science, Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS) Program
University of Arizona
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Undergraduate Research


Arizona’s Science, Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS) Program provides support services toward graduation for underrepresented, undergraduate STEM majors. ASEMS seeks to retain promising STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds, support students in forming a scientist or engineer identity through early STEM career exploration, develop students’ communication skills and confidence needed to build a professional STEM network, and teach students how to be academically and professionally competitive in STEM fields.

Program Description

Established in 2011, ASEMS was first designed as a pilot program to increase persistence and graduation rates of first-generation and low-income STEM students.

ASEMS offers participants academic and personal support through student support specialists, peer, and faculty mentors who provide one-on-one meetings and cohort-based research courses. Mentors individualize academic mentoring, career advising, and tutoring to meet Latino students at their academic point of development, recognize their unique circumstances and validate their cultural backgrounds, creating a sense of belonging and resiliency. ASEMS provides participants early research experience by offering their research readiness course which introduces students to research, coaches them to compete for 25 research positions, and includes shadowing experiences. Diverse professionals, faculty, and graduate students serve as guest speakers and mentors. Starting with 12 students, the program now serves more than 300 students.


  • Increased first year retention: Over the past four cohorts, participants have accomplished a combined one-year freshman retention rate of 92% compared to 82% for all University of Arizona (UA) STEM freshmen. Latino participants have accomplished a one-year freshman retention rate of 92% compared to 80% for all UA Latino STEM freshmen.
  • Increased STEM retention: Of Fall 2015 first-time, Latino freshmen, 93% were retained to their fourth year and 81% remained in STEM majors.
  • Increased STEM identity formation: After taking the Research Readiness course, 87% of students indicated it was likely or extremely likely they would apply to an undergraduate research program. After taking the Professionalism in STEM Course, 95% of students considered applying to graduate or professional school.

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