What is NextGen’s leadership structure and who informs programming?

NPSP was created by and run by psychology PhD students and operates under a peer-to-peer mentorship model, where PhD student and postdoc trainees serve as mentors, and aspiring/prospective PhD students are mentees. Faculty are not involved in programming but serve as advocates that work closely with NPSP Directors to ensure sustained funding and help us recruit scholars. Faculty from our sponsored universities are also asked to participate in an Admissions 101 panel each fall.

See our Admin team page for a list of our current leadership team. Broadly, our core team is composed of two UMN Directors, a PSU Coordinator, and 10-12 Lead Mentors from UMN and PSU (split between UMN’s ICD, psychology, educational psychology, and PSU psychology) who are paid as consultants and lead/organize panels/workshops throughout the year. Lead mentors represent a variety of identities (e.g., first-gen, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, low-income, international, disabled) and lived experiences to ensure substantial diversity in our programming. Although our paid lead mentors coordinate events and programming, all events solicit additional volunteer mentors from other programs in order to gain additional perspectives. While mentors from other programs are welcome to take on more of a leadership role in our programming (and often do in panel discussions), we intentionally do not push for them to participate because we are unable to pay them the same way we pay our UMN/PSU mentors. Consequently, more programming is led by UMN/PSU mentors. We hope that additional PhD programs partner with us in the future so that their departments can pay their grad student mentors and support NPSP’s core mission of properly incentivizing grad students’ efforts in this work. 

Is this program useful for those applying to M.A. or PsyD program in psychology?

Although we spend time in the beginning discussing the differences between psychology degree programs, the bulk of our programming is meant to prepare scholars for PhD applications and cannot offer much guidance on M.A. or PsyD applications. Nonetheless, this program is still beneficial for those considering all of their options (or don’t know yet!) and our mentors do their best to work with mentees as their goals evolve. 

How is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) operationalized in NPSP? 

We use a definition created by UMN’s DEI committee at the Institute of Child Development. Diversity encompasses, but not is not limited to, heterogeneity based on: race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender, sexuality, ability, spiritual beliefs, culture, tribal affiliation, nationality, immigration status, political beliefs, and veteran status. Our definition also includes a diversity of ideas, perspectives, and values, and recognizes that individuals affiliate with multiple identities. Greater diversity brings more varied perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, talents, and interests to our work and to the communities we support and are in partnership with. Inclusion centers around deliberate efforts to ensure that all voices are heard, differences are embraced, and different perspectives are respectfully and empathetically listened to and engaged—all of which result in a sense of belonging and inclusion for any individual. We acknowledge that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group is not always inclusive.

NPSP is targeted toward diverse scholars who are historically underrepresented in the psychological sciences (e.g., BIPOC, first-gen college, low-income, LGBTQIA+, disabled). Nonetheless, all are welcome to join our community so long as they share our values for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

How can I stay up-to-date with upcoming events? How do I access recorded events?

We rely on Slack for almost all NPSP communication, so we ask that scholars check it regularly or ensure they get notifications. A list of our events can also be found on our Events page as well as our NPSP google calendar, where scholars can find Zoom registration links. All events are open to NPSP mentees and mentors, and we open certain events to the broader community if space allows. Informational sessions/panels are typically recorded and subsequently uploaded to our YouTube channel. All #NextGenStories events are limited to the NPSP community and are not recorded to ensure a more intimate space. We highly encourage our NPSP mentees and mentors to attend as many live events as possible to meet others, ask questions, and get the most out of the program.  

Why do only members and mentees get access to the Slack group?

All of our members go through a mandatory welcome session that outlines our core values, organizational structure, and expectations for respectful discourse required for engaging with the program. Because Slack is a core element of the program where a  lot of discourse occurs that we wish to keep safe and private, we limit it to our members. Members are welcome to share resources they find through NPSP to their colleagues and broader community. 

What expectations does NPSP have for its scholars?

At NPSP, we ask that you respect our values for diversity and inclusion in every source of engagement throughout the program, being mindful of the things you say and the space you take. Failure to respect your peers and mentors will result in removal from the program. If at any point you feel that someone is speaking in a way that is harmful or offensive, please let the NPSP Directors or your mentor know and we will address the issue.

During our programming, one-on-one mentorship, and in Slack, mentors may choose to share experiences about their academic journeys that are somewhat personal. We ask that you respect that those stories remain within the supportive space that we collectively create, appreciating that our mentors generously share those experiences so that others who might resonate feel less alone. Similarly, if mentees choose to share their own stories with us throughout the program, we will also respect that those remain within NPSP unless you share something that poses a threat to yourself or others. 

As a community, we often discuss ways systemic barriers have made it more difficult for underrepresented students in PhD programs. At the same time, we will emphasize what we love about our work, how we find meaning and purpose in it, and the ways we deeply appreciate the flexibility and creativity that academic spaces provide. We aim to remain grounded in our communication–balancing challenges/barriers with joys/strengths–and provide context when necessary. We strive to work with the tools we have and within the power that we have across our various levels of training, and partner with university and faculty advocates who support our mission. Our ultimate goal is to build strong pipelines across the training cycle to ensure that the next generation of diverse psychologists become the leaders and decision-makers we need to enact sustainable positive change. 

What is the scope of NPSP’s goals and what are its current limitations?

NPSP was created to cultivate long-term peer support relationships among the next generation of psych PhD students and future scholars. We focus on preparing aspiring PhD students to submit competitive applications, while providing tools to excel throughout their training and beyond. We advocate for funding to honor the under-acknowledged work of underrepresented grad students and for fee waivers to remove application barriers for our mentees. Through these efforts, we hope to initiate incremental but sustainable change in the academic community. We have come to learn that the highest likelihood for change in the academic context happens through strategic partnership with the current power structures. Thus, we work to build long-term partnerships with psychology PhD programs around the country to support our collective mission to enhance representation in the psychological sciences. 

We are limited in a number of ways and strive to be transparent about these from the beginning. First, we acknowledge that many more mentors than mentees are White and will not be able to support every mentee in the way they need/want given differences in privilege and lived experience. Despite our efforts to recruit mentors from UR identities, the reality is that a majority of current PhD students are White (see APA breakdowns here) and while there are demonstrated improvements in recent years, these statistics will take time to become more representative. Moreover, many BIPOC and other UR grad students are overburdened with DEI requests and cannot afford to add the time commitment of NPSP to their already full plate. All of our mentors, regardless of identity, are dedicated to the mission of NPSP and have demonstrated a commitment to using their privilege and time to support a more diverse next generation of PhD students. All mentors undergo a mandatory two-hour training on socioculturally-responsible mentoring using resources from Academics4BlackLives and resources that UR mentors bring to the group. Second, another limitation mentioned above is that we do not have expertise in M.A. or PsyD applications and thus cannot provide much guidance on those applications if mentees choose to pursue those degrees. However, all mentors do their best to connect those mentees with other colleagues in their network who may have more insight. Third–and this is less a limitation and more of a reality–our mentors are not superhuman and there are times when we cannot meet every mentees’ request/need and we ask for grace in those moments. 

NPSP has grown at a rate we did not anticipate, and as a grad-student-led program, we are doing our best to balance our responsibilities at school with managing NPSP logistics. Additional organizational aspects to the program have been added throughout the years to improve clarity and ease, and we envision continuous organizational improvements and automatization as NPSP matures. We care deeply about the success of our program and our community within it and rely on individuals to make the most out of the program and what we are able to offer. We regularly solicit feedback (click here for our anonymous feedback form) throughout the year and conduct longer surveys at the end of the year to get insight into what worked, what didn’t, and ideas for improvement. Transparency and accountability are a core aspect of all that we do, and we hope such values continue to support NPSP’s success and growth. 

What if I’m having issues with my mentor or mentee (e.g., not responding)?

Our core leadership team does their best to match hundreds of mentees with a mentor based on their stated preference for matching on identity or program area. As discussed in our welcome session, we encourage mentees to be the first to reach out to their mentor, and provide general guidelines about when and how to connect. Additional expectations are outlined in-depth in the welcome sessions. Nonetheless, sometimes mentees never reach out to their assigned mentor and sometimes mentors fail to respond in a timely manner. Every semester we send out a mentor-mentee check-in form to see how things are going and assess whether we should re-pair or not. Any mentor or mentee who is reported to be unresponsive at that time will be re-paired to the best of our ability. We also highly encourage our mentees to leverage the rich perspectives they can gain from asking questions in the Slack and attending our programming. Many mentors are also open to having once-off meetings with mentees they aren’t paired with if you ask! 

How do I list NPSP on my CV?

Mentees can list their participation under “Professional Affiliations” and mentors can list it under “Teaching and Mentorship” or “Academic Service”. For mentors and mentees who lead or participate as panelists in a session, we suggest adding that under “Invited Talks and Guest Lectures” or “Academic Service.” 

NPSP has so many resources that it’s hard to know which to focus on. Help?

We err on the side of too many resources rather than not enough so that there are options and a diverse array of perspectives to learn from. We suggest working with your mentor on deciphering which resources are most useful to you at your given training stage or stage in your application. You can also post on Slack to ask for opinions!

Are there other programs I can look into if I need additional support?

Yes, and we encourage you to do so in order to meet your individual needs and goals. Some common online communities/programs our mentees in the past have reported using are #BlackinPsych, Harvard PREP, U Denver ASRP, Project Short, Psychin’ Out, Cientifico Latino, and other miscellaneous “diversity days” offered by individual psychology programs.