The program enlists faculty and researchers to mentor juniors through part-time, paid research assistantships. The program provides opportunities for students to experience research first-hand and is intended to prepare students for undertaking senior honors theses.
Students who have attained a GPA in the top 40% of the class at the end of fall term of sophomore year are eligible for the program. Eligible students are notified winter term of sophomore year.
Scholars serve two terms during their junior year as research assistants to Dartmouth faculty members ("sophomore summer" can be the first term of the assistantship). Scholars are expected to work 7-12 hours per week during each of the two terms. The two terms of the assistantship must be conducted during students’ “ON” terms, unless there are extenuating circumstances and approval is given by both the professor and the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research. Note that there is no additional funding available for students who are given permission to conduct the assistantship during a leave term. Those students will receive the same stipend as students conducting their assistantships during "ON" terms.
It is expected that James O. Freedman Presidential Scholars will assist faculty in their research. Students participating in this program are not expected to generate their own independent research projects. The nature of the work and the skills required will vary depending on the project, and faculty mentors should be clear about their expectations prior to the start of the assistantship. The faculty mentor and student should set up a work schedule at the beginning of the term, and this schedule should include weekly or biweekly meetings between the student and advisor.
Faculty are invited to list projects on an on-line database (click HERE for more information). Students can search the database for projects of interest to them. Note that the database contains some projects that are available only to Presidential Scholars and other projects that are available to any student (including Presidential Scholars). Contact the professor(s) with whom you are interested in working to discuss their project, expectations and interview process. You may contact as many professors as you like, but you may only apply to work with ONE faculty advisor on ONE two-term assistantship. Note also that students may work with faculty who do not list a project in the on-line database (see Tips for Finding a Faculty Mentor for Research). No special permission is needed for this, and the application process is the same (although you will need to get a title and project description from your faculty mentor).
All tenured, tenure-track, and research-track faculty are eligible to supervise undergraduates in research. The category of research-track faculty includes research assistant professors, research associate professors, and research professors. Those with other types of appointments may supervise undergraduates with approval from the relevant department or program chair, director, or dean. Examples of other types of appointments include: visiting faculty, adjunct faculty, emeritus faculty, lecturers, senior lecturers, instructors, and post-doctoral scholars. This policy applies to faculty affiliated with the Arts & Sciences (undergraduate program), Thayer School of Engineering, Geisel School of Medicine, and Tuck School of Business.
You may serve as a James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar to a professor who did not list a project in the database, provided they agree to take you on as a research assistant. A project title and description must be provided to the Undergraduate Research Office on the student’s application form. No other special permission is needed to work with a professor who did not list a project in the on-line database.
Interviews are conducted by the faculty at their discretion. Faculty will not necessarily interview all interested students. The Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research does not coordinate or facilitate the interviews. You should contact the faculty whose projects sound interesting and set up interviews.
If you will be off campus during the winter term, you should consider contacting faculty about James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar assistantships via phone or email during winter term rather than waiting until you return to campus in the spring. Faculty are asked to wait until spring term to select a Scholar so that all interested students have the opportunity to interview for the assistantship, but some faculty do opt to select a Scholar during the winter term. Students who are off-campus in the winter are strongly encouraged to begin contacting faculty by email before returning to campus in the spring as interviews can often be arranged via phone or Skype.
You may conduct an assistantship with a faculty member who is not in you major department, provided the project is academically relevant to your course of study. If you choose a faculty mentor who is not in your major department, however, you will not be able to do a senior honors thesis with that faculty member. You also may not be able to pursue the independent study credit option for the second term of the assistantship. If you are interested in this option, you should check with the advisor's department regarding their policy for granting independent study credit to non-majors.
Once a professor selects you as his/her James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar, you must complete the on-line application form, which is available by following the links on this website (posted in mid-February). Once you submit this form, the professor will receive an email requesting his/her confirmation that you have been selected as their Presidential Scholar Research Assistant. Both the student application form and faculty advisor confirmation must be submitted online in order for the application to be complete.
Not necessarily. Selection by a faculty mentor and submission of the required forms do NOT guarantee acceptance into the program. If there are not enough funds to support all the applications submitted, selection will be based on factors such as academic standing and the relevance of the project to the student’s major. Applications will be accepted until the program deadline, and notification letters will be sent out about 3 weeks after that deadline.
For the classes of 2016 and later, students may receive $850 for each of the two terms of the assistantship. Payments for international students (non-resident aliens) are subject to applicable taxes. Stipends are paid at the end of each term of the assistantship after both the student and the advisor have submitted confirmation that the term was completed.
In the second term of the assistantship, students may receive independent study course credit instead of payment ONLY IF it is deemed appropriate by the faculty advisor (subject to departmental criteria). Assistantships for which independent study credit is to be granted will typically involve a greater time commitment than non-credit assistantships. The faculty mentor ultimately makes the decision as to whether independent study credit is an option, and the student is responsible for registering for the independent study through the faculty mentor’s department and the Registrar's Office prior to the start of the term or during Add/Drop period. The Office of Advising and Research is not involved in the course registration process. Students should check with their mentor's department to be sure that they are eligible to register for independent study. Students doing assistantships in Tuck or Geisel would need to register for independent study credit through an undergraduate department or program (typically the student's major department/program). Note that departments and programs have specific guidelines and policies about independent study, particularly when the mentor is not directly affiliated with the department/program, and independent study credit may not be an option.
Transcripts of students who successfully complete both terms of the assistantship will carry the notation “James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar Research Assistant.” Students who complete two terms of the assistantship AND graduate with honors in their major will be designated James O. Freedman Presidential Scholars at Commencement and on their transcripts. Students who complete the assistantship and go on to write an honors thesis are eligible to receive an additional $300 thesis stipend in their senior year. Applications for the honors thesis stipend are available on the website. Your thesis topic does NOT have to be related to the Presidential Scholar research, and your major does NOT have to be in the same department as your Presidential Scholar advisor.
Contact the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research:
Last Updated: 1/16/15