Issue Brief: Science Policy Principles
    August 17, 2017

    The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, passed by Congress in 2016, responded to concerns about U.S. competitiveness in scientific innovations. It reaffirms the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) merit-based peer review process, broadens research opportunities, and authorizes and diversifies certain federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. This law provides critical federal support for STEM education and innovation, allowing the U.S. to continue producing the highly skilled professionals our economy needs to fuel innovation and conduct top-level research across all disciplines of basic science research and engineering.


    While this legislation achieves certain important goals, CGS recommends the following principles for future science-related policies:


    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 outcomes for graduate degree holders and use that data to improve and reform master’s and doctoral programs.
    • Encourage a broad range of professional development activities, including internships, for graduate research assistants.
    • Support research traineeship programs that build upon the successes of the NSF Research Traineeship program (NRT).
    • Maintain a robust NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) to foster a more diverse STEM workforce of life-long leaders who contribute to scientific innovation and teaching.
    • Provide incentives for students to pursue doctoral studies in areas of national need.
    • Give priority to proposals involving collaborations between businesses and universities that support graduate students and their career goals.


    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 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.
    • Support international research experiences for U.S. STEM graduate students.


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

    • Continue to enhance public scientific literacy that grows 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.


    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.