Program for Research Initiatives in Science & Math (PRISM)

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John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Undergraduate Research


The Program for Research Initiatives in Science and Math (PRISM) and its cohort of support programs have transformed John Jay College from a minor player in the advancement of STEM professionals to one of the leading Baccalaureate Origins Institutions for Hispanic Students moving on to STEM PhDs and professional careers. The program builds supportive relationships with faculty, staff, and peer mentors to improve students’ engagement in STEM and ability to see themselves as scientists; provides direct career experience to increase self-efficacy and understanding of career expectations; immerses students in the culture and practice of science by developing professional writing and speaking skills; and fosters lifelong success by promoting resilience, counteracting negative stereotypes, and reducing impostor syndrome.

Program Description

As the college evolved to reflect broader education objectives in criminal justice, leadership development, and public service, their student population has become multiethnic and highly diverse. With increased enrollments and confronting attrition challenges, the science program took action. Unwilling to accept a deficit model, PRISM was born as part of a series of interventions launched in the early 2000s to meet student needs. These interventions were immediately successful, doubling graduation rates within three years, and launching three students (two Latino, one female) on to STEM PhD programs (compared to only five in the prior decade). PRISM was intentionally created as a program of excellence and does this by focusing on the needs of Hispanic students. Program staff are bilingual and activities help students see themselves as practitioners and colleagues, rather than outsiders. PRISM provides students opportunities to meet with Hispanic, Black, and female scientists. Families are invited to program activities.


The PRISM program continues to have an immense impact on its graduates.

  • There has been a four-fold increase in the number of graduates from John Jay’s science programs, and an almost ten-fold increase in the number of Hispanic graduates.
  • Throughout the 1990s, only five John Jay undergraduates went on to MD or STEM PhD programs (none Latino). In contrast, during the first seven years of the program’s operations from 2006-2013, PRISM contributed to a nine-fold increase in the number of students going on to graduate school, with 46 students moving on and an impressive 15 Hispanic students.
  • In recent years (2014-2022), 99 total students (31 Latino students) have moved on to graduate school and John Jay is now among the top Baccalaureate Origins Institutions for Hispanic Doctoral applicants in the country.

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