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Undergraduate Programs

Senior Scholars Research Program

As many as 15 seniors are able to devote their entire final year of college to work on a single intellectual project—a year-long independent study. The project may be a scientific investigation, a scholarly endeavor, a work of art, creative writing, filmmaking, or any other proposal that engages the imaginative and intellectual faculties students have been developing at Rochester. The project must be composed and carried out under the supervision of a faculty advisor or advisors and does not have to be related to, or part of, the student’s major.

Although senior scholars are not required to take courses, the project may include course work in addition to independent study. All together, the project will carry a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 32 credits, and must be capable of being completed by the end of the senior year.

The project can be a part of the major, with the consent of the major department.

If you are interested in applying for the Senior Scholars Program, begin to think and plan. Discuss your ideas with a faculty member (or members) whom you would like to have as an advisor for your project. Test out your plans with others. Prepare to submit, with a faculty advisor's help, a well-reasoned and convincing document.

Interested students must specifically apply for the Senior Scholars Program. All proposals must be submitted by April 1 of junior year.  Submitted proposals are reviewed by the Senior Scholars Review board.

Program Overview

The Senior Scholars Program permits selected seniors to devote at least half of the entire final year to a single capstone project that can range from a piece of scholarly research to a work of artistic creativity. Senior Scholar projects are marked by intellectual engagement and coherence, and by educational soundness and continuity. The projects may include coursework in addition to CAS 397: Senior Scholars Program.


Students must have applied to the Senior Scholars Program and received an offer of acceptance from the Senior Scholars Review Board. Applications include: The Senior Scholars Project proposal form (found online), a resume, and a letter of recommendation from the intended supervising faculty advisor. All applications are due no later than April 1 of junior year.

Student Responsibilities

Students need to sign up for the appropriate CAS 397: Senior Scholars Program course each semester during senior year; they will register for the CAS 397 course that has their supervising faculty advisor listed as the course instructor. They are responsible for knowing the requirements of the Senior Scholars program and adhering to all program deadlines. They will maintain regular contact with their supervising faculty advisor and be proactive in alerting them to anticipated problems or concerns.

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities

The role of the faculty advisor is to assist a student in the development and fulfillment of their proposed Senior Scholars Project. The faculty advisor will be responsible for supervising the student and their independent research (CAS 397) throughout the senior year fall and spring. The faculty advisor will be listed as the course instructor for a CAS 397 course.

To ensure that the goals and workload are carried out successfully, faculty are encouraged to meet regularly with their student during the semester to discuss the subject matter, review academic progress, and offer constructive feedback.


Every approved senior scholar has their own CAS 397 course. Students should register for the CAS 397: Senior Scholars Program course that has their faculty advisor listed as the instructor. Students will also want to confirm that the number of credit hours for CAS 397 is correct.

At the time of application, Senior scholars choose either 8 credit hours or 16 credit hours per semester.


Faculty advisors and students should discuss grading criteria at the beginning of each semester. Faculty have the prerogative to assign the final letter grade. Performance measures that can be considered include:

  • Research process
  • Concept knowledge and application
  • Benchmarks met
  • Final product

The final letter grade is entered by the faculty advisor.


Senior scholars will be noted on your college transcript.

Program Deadlines

November 1 Deadline

Senior scholars must submit a three to five page update on their Senior Scholars project to the Multidisciplinary Studies Center in Lattimore 203. Faculty advisors should sign the update before it is submitted; signatures are required for submission to be considered complete. This information will be reviewed by the Senior Scholars Review Board.

Final Project Deadline

The final project must be submitted to the faculty advisor no later than four Fridays before Commencement. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Commencement weekend begins Friday, May 18, 2018. Project completion is due no later than Friday, April 20, 2018.

How to Apply

Download the application form and submit to the completed application, along with the supervising faculty advisor’s recommendation and a resume to the Multidisciplinary Studies Center in Lattimore 203 no later than April 1.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.