As many as 15 seniors are able to devote their entire final year of study at the University to work on a single intellectual project—a year-long independent study. The project can 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 can include coursework in addition to independent study. 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 Senior Scholars project can be a part of the major, with the consent of the major department.

If you’re interested in becoming a Senior Scholar, you should part planning as soon as possible. Discuss your ideas with a faculty member (or members) whom you would like as an advisor for your project.

Eligibility and Applying 

All University of Rochester students are eligible to apply to the program. Students must have applied to the Senior Scholars Research Program and received an offer of acceptance from the Senior Scholars Review Board. Applications include:

Applications are due no later than April 1 of junior year.

Student Responsibilities

Students need to sign up for the appropriate CASC 397: Senior Scholars Program course each semester during senior year; they will register for the CASC 397 course that has their supervising faculty advisor listed as the course instructor.

They are responsible for knowing the requirements of the Senior Scholars Research 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 (CASC 397) throughout the senior year fall and spring. The faculty advisor will be listed as the course instructor for a CASC 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 CASC 397 course. Students should register for the CASC 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 CASC 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.

Program Deadlines

Progress Update Paper: November 1

Senior Scholars must submit a three- to five-page update on their project to the Multidisciplinary Studies Center in Morey 206. Faculty advisors must sign the update before it is submitted for it to be considered complete.

This progress update will be reviewed by the Senior Scholars Review Board.

Final Project Deadline: April 17

The final project must be submitted to the faculty advisor no later than four Fridays before commencement. For the 2019–20 academic year, commencement weekend begins Friday, May 15, 2020. Project completion is due no later than Friday, April 17, 2020.