Issue Brief: America COMPETES Act Reauthorization
    March 15, 2016

    The America COMPETES Act, most recently reauthorized in 2010, responded to concerns about U.S. competitiveness. It called for increased funding for research in the physical sciences and engineering, and authorized certain federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. This law provides critical federal investments in STEM education and innovation. By reauthorizing COMPETES the U.S. can continue to produce the highly skilled professionals our economy needs to fuel innovation and conduct top-level research across all disciplines of basic science research and engineering.


    To achieve these goals, CGS recommends the following principles for reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act:


    Promote programs that provide master’s and doctoral students with the skills they need in a competitive global economy.

    • Allocate funds to document longer-term career outcome data for graduate degree holders and use that data to improve and reform master’s and doctoral programs.
    • Include a professional development component for graduate research assistants.
    • Support traineeship programs and incentives for students who pursue doctoral studies in areas of national need.


    Support programs that provide opportunities for graduate students to develop innovative skills so they may successfully fulfill a wide-variety of career paths and remain competitive in a global workforce.

    • Award grants for entrepreneurship and commercialization education to NSF-funded graduate researchers and postdoctoral fellows.
    • Encourage innovations in master’s programs, such as the Professional Science Master’s program, that align with our growing and diverse economic and workforce demands.
    • Implement or expand research-based reforms in master’s and doctoral level STEM education programs, including professional development activities such as project management experiences and effective oral and written communication skills.


    Encourage innovation through support for R&D and STEM education.

    • Support and expand research traineeship programs that build upon the successes of the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program (NRT).
    • Provide funding that meets the goal of the ‘doubling path’ policy in COMPETES.
    • Streamline federal regulations and reporting requirements that increase research costs and detract from conducting research and mentoring students.


    Reinforce the mission and purpose of NSF to improve science, engineering and math education at all levels.

    • Enhance public scientific literacy in order to grow our scientific talent base, including increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
    • Strengthen the pipeline of next-generation scientists and engineers, including future faculty, for continued U.S. scientific, technological and economic global leadership.
    • Provide support for basic research based upon excellence, competitive scientific merit and peer review.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national advocate for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource for policymakers and others on issues concerning graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS members receive regular updates of legislative and regulatory proposals impacting graduate education and are provided resources to use in advocacy efforts on their campuses and with policymakers and other constituents. 
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.