Senior Fellowships involve projects for which the intellectual scope and breadth of imagination goes beyond that which can be accomplished by taking courses offered in the existing curriculum. Senior Fellowship projects vary widely – recent examples include the composition and performance of a one-act opera, the production of an artistic film on eating disorders, a clinical study with diabetic patients, and an historical analysis of Cyrus the Great. Despite the range of topics, all Senior Fellowships have one thing in common – they would not be possible within the constraints of departmental major requirements.
Students who have a GPA of at least 3.0 at the time of the application are eligible to apply. Students must have completed a minimum of 27 credits before the start of the proposed fellowship.
All Dartmouth students must have 35 credits to graduate. A Senior Fellowship earns 6 academic credits, so Senior Fellows must complete 29 additional credits. Fellows must complete all distributive and related requirements by the end of the second term of the Fellowship.
Senior Fellows are not required to complete a major, but can do so if they wish. However, they do not receive any reduction in the requirements for a major, and no part of the Senior Fellowship work may be submitted for departmental major honors. If fellows are not completing a major, they may count courses in what has been their major department in partial satisfaction of the Distributive Requirements (if applicable).
A Senior Fellowship consists of three terms of registered enrollment. The terms must be R- or O-terms, not L-terms; supervised independent research away from campus will count as an R-term. Some Fellows will begin their projects the summer before the fellowship year, and others may opt to take a leave term during the fellowship year to extend the time frame of their project. Regardless of the final time commitment of the Senior Fellow, the fellowship involves three terms of enrollment and a total of 6 academic credits.
A Senior Fellowship appointment is provisional for the first term. Continuation for the remaining two terms requires the Committee on Senior Fellowship’s approval of a Fellow’s accomplishments and rate of progress during the first term. In making its determination, the Committee evaluates a written report from the student, a detailed analysis and recommendation of the principal advisor, and such additional information as may be required. If the Committee decides to discontinue a Senior Fellowship, the student must complete a departmental or program major in order to graduate.
It is best if Senior Fellows devote all of their time and energy to their projects during the three terms of the Fellowship. The Committee on Senior Fellowships must approve all academic schedules, and will generally approve requests by Senior Fellows to take one or two classes during the Fellowship year. Requests to take three or more classes receive approval only under special circumstances.
The Fellowship year comprises three terms of registered enrollment, at least one of which must be spent primarily in residence. All three terms count as R-terms, even if the Senior Fellow is off campus. Senior Fellows who are off campus must arrange to be in frequent contact with their primary advisors.
The Kaminsky Family fund provides funding for Senior Fellowship projects. As part of the application process, Senior Fellows must submit an itemized budget for their proposed project, and this budget must be approved by the Committee for Senior Fellowships. Senior Fellows may apply for funding for travel as well as for supplies related to their projects. In addition to funding for the project itself, Senior Fellows are entitled to attend their final term at Dartmouth College tuition-free. Since this provision may have differing effects on individual students, a Senior Fellow may choose: (1) tuition remission for the final term (for students receiving financial aid, this will mean a reduction in the self-help package for the entire year); or (2) a graduate fellowship equal to one term's tuition (the amount of the fellowship is based on the tuition in the year in which the student completed the fellowship).
Each Senior Fellow must have a primary advisor. If the primary advisor is not a tenure-track member of the Dartmouth faculty, a secondary advisor must meet that criterion. Being the primary advisor for a Senior Fellowship is a major commitment, and faculty should carefully consider whether they will be able to devote the necessary time and resources to a Senior Fellow. During the application process, the primary advisor consults with the candidate to hone the project and put together the written proposal. If the candidate is selected as a Senior Fellow, the primary advisor works closely with the Fellow throughout the Fellowship year. Senior Fellows must be in contact with their primary advisor at least once every two weeks. If both the Fellow and the advisor are on campus, they are expected to meet in person. If one or both is off campus, then contact can be via phone or email. Depending on the nature of the project, Senior Fellows may also choose to have one or more secondary advisors. Prior to applying, candidates for a Senior Fellowship must be certain that their primary advisor understands and agrees to the level of involvement required. If the faculty member is unable to commit the time and resources to the Senior Fellow or has serious doubts about the project or the Fellow’s ability to complete the project, the faculty member should tell the applicant early in the process and not agree to be primary advisor. Some departments on campus take the view that they are so committed to their regular program and to directing departmental (or program) honors projects that they cannot allow their faculty to devote extensive time to Senior Fellows.
Senior Fellows are enrolled in two SRFL credits in each of the three terms. These “courses” are graded on a credit/no credit basis. When the Senior Fellowship is complete, the final project is evaluated by an Examining Committee. The Examining Committee consists of the Senior Fellow’s primary advisor and at least two additional members. When a student is awarded a Senior Fellowship, the primary advisor will recommend two or more examiners (the other examiners should not also be advisors to the project). The Committee on Senior Fellowships must approve the list of examiners. Except in special circumstances, at least one of the members of the Examining Committee is expected to be from outside the college. The Examining Committee judges whether the student has completed the Senior Fellowship or has completed the Fellowship “with Honors” or “with High Honors”. Upon the recommendation of the Examining Committee, the Committee on Senior Fellowships will make the final determination and report to the registrar.
Students must apply for a Senior Fellowships no later than the end of the fourth week of the term, two terms before the Senior Fellowship is to begin. Applicants must submit an application form, budget form, official transcript, 3 letters of recommendation (one must be from the primary advisor), and a written proposal. The written proposal should clearly state what the project is, why it is important and how the candidate’s background in academics and/or other areas has prepared him or her for the fellowship. The project should be described in detail, including relevant literature, methodology and timeline. The candidate also must justify why he or she is applying for a Senior Fellowship rather than completing a traditional major.
The Committee on Senior Fellowships reviews all applications and selects candidates to advance to the interview phase. Selected candidates and their advisors are required to attend an interview with the Senior Fellowship Committee. Interviews last approximately 45 minutes. First, the candidate is asked to give a 10-minute presentation on the proposed Senior Fellowship project. The Committee on Senior Fellowships then asks the candidate questions about the proposal for 15-20 minutes. At this point, the candidate is excused, and the Committee on Senior Fellowships meets with the primary advisor for approximately 15 minutes. The Committee bases its final decisions on such factors as the quality of the written proposal, the feasibility of the project within the time constraints of the fellowship, the preparation of the fellow for the project, and the commitment of the primary advisor to the project. The Committee also carefully weighs the question of whether a Senior Fellowship is justified. That is, will the student get more out of a Senior Fellowship year than out of taking classes in the traditional curriculum and completing a departmental major. A maximum of 10 (but in exceptional circumstances 12) Senior Fellows are selected each year. The actual number of Fellows selected as well as the number of applicants varies widely from year to year. The selection process is very rigorous so you should have alternate academic plans for your senior year if you are not awarded a Senior Fellowship. Note that the committee's decisions are final, and there is no appeal process for students who are not selected as Senior Fellows.
Last Updated: 5/7/13