Science of Learning STEM

Program Goal

To enhance the persistence and success of students in STEM majors and programs through the improvement of STEM pedagogies that incorporate evidence-based principles of how people learn and account for differences in achievement among student groups, e.g., race/ethnicity and gender.


  • This program is transitioning from a focus on studying patterns of undergraduate entrance, attrition, and persistence in STEM majors to helping institutions improve student learning and better prepare undergraduates for graduate study and careers in STEM fields.
  • Emphasis will continue on hypothesis-driven projects that are sensitive to the heterogeneity of STEM disciplines, attentive to differences in student demographics and motivations, and concerned with the dissemination of findings and the portability of lessons learned to other institutions.

  • Pre-2010, when the program was called “Student Retention,” grantmaking focused on encouraging universities to collect and use information on student pathways through STEM fields, including retention rate and time-to-degree.

Recent Grants

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Interested grantseekers with a relevant project idea should email a letter of inquiry of no more than two pages to Program Director Elizabeth Boylan. Before submitting a letter of inquiry, please review the Foundation's guidelines on what we do not fund.

This program does not support projects aimed at K-12 student or the training of K-12 teachers.

For more information about letters of inquiry or other Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant application procedures, visit our Apply for Grants page.