Crossing the Bridge to STEM: Retaining Women Students in an Online CS Conversion Program

Hui Ching Kayla Hsu, Nasir Memon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The necessity for a steady STEM workforce has prompted academia to develop strategies to encourage people of diverse backgrounds to enter the STEM fields. A bridge program, also known as a conversion program, offers alternative pathways for individuals who have no prior computing education to receive the education that can help in developing their careers or acquiring a graduate-level degree in the computer science fields. This mixed-methods study consisted of two parts. First, an online post-baccalaureate bridge program was evaluated, with a focus on students' performance. Factors for analysis included gender, prior major, and the length of the program, any or all of which might play a role in students' unsuccessful attempts to complete the program. The results indicated that female students have a higher tendency to not complete the program. However, female students who completed the program and enrolled in a graduate school have as much potential to do well in the MS program as their male cohorts do. The second part of the study comprised a survey of students who completed or did not complete the program and interviews with women students. Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT), the results showed that strategies are needed to enhance women students' perceived competence and relatedness in the program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3440892
JournalACM Transactions on Computing Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Gender
  • non-majors
  • online curriculum initiative
  • self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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