WASHINGTON—Taking its cue from recent studies that point to a funding gap in science education at liberal arts colleges, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has begun a program to upgrade science curricula at selected undergraduate institutions.

HHMI has invited 76 liberal arts colleges not affiliated with any Ph.D.-granting university and 18 historically black colleges to compete for the grants, which will range from $500,000 to $2 million. The winners will be announced next spring, according to Joseph Perpich, HHMI vice president for grants and special programs.

HHMI expects to spend $30 million in the first year of a three-year effort, Perpich said. The program may be expanded in subsequent years to include undergraduate programs at major research universities.

“The liberal arts colleges have had little government support,” said Perpich, “and have campaigned to increase their science research faculty based on the fact that a large percentage of their students...

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