The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bridgette Davis

Bridgette Davis portrait
Assistant Professor of Public Policy


638 Thompson Hall

Bridgette Davis is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy, the founding director of the Equitable Transitions to Adulthood (ETA) Lab, and a faculty affiliate of both the Center for College Student Success (CCSS) and Center for Justice Law & Societies (CJLS). Davis also serves as a faculty affiliate in the Center for Equitable Family & Community Well-Being at the University of Michigan. Davis’ research interests include anti-poverty policy implementation and the role of nonprofit organizations in the reproduction of social inequality—particularly during the transition to adulthood.

Her research focuses on how administrative burdens associated with need-based financial aid contribute to heterogeneous outcomes, social stratification, and cumulative disadvantage among first-generation and underrepresented racial minority college students. Davis conducts qualitative and mixed methods studies within nonprofit interventions to better understand the ways in which problems emerge and compound for multiply marginalized young people during the transition to adulthood. She has published in journals including Urban Education and Social Service Review. Her dissertation study, which was funded by the Hymen Milgrom Successful Pathways from School to Work Grant, has been noted in articles by the New Yorker, Politico, WBEZ Chicago, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Davis holds both a PhD and an AM from the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, where she was an Institute of Education Sciences predoctoral fellow, a two-time Point Foundation Scholar, and was awarded the Simons Doctoral Student Teaching Award for outstanding contributions to the development of inclusive pedagogy and a classroom that promotes critical thinking, advances knowledge, and supports academic and professional development.

Prior to obtaining her PhD, Davis was a public-school educator in Atlanta and Dean of College Preparation and Persistence at a Title I high school on Chicago’s west side. She also worked as a nonprofit program director for both Teach for America and One Goal—coaching both teachers and aspiring first-generation college students to reach ambitious goals. Davis was also the first in her family to graduate from college and grew up in rural Iowa.

Read Davis’ Work

Davis’ CV


Courses taught by Professor Davis:

Policy Methods SPP 607 – graduate core course for Public Policy

U.S. Education Policy SPP650/EDUC633 – graduate elective course

Independent Study SPP 696 – ETA Lab, graduate research experience


Policy in an Age of Precarity SPP 111 ­– Gen-Ed (SB, DU) undergraduate seminar

Youth Organizing for Policy Change FFYS191/SPP1 – faculty-led first-year seminar

Public Policy Research Practicum SPP398R – ETA Lab, undergrad research experience