Undergraduate Research at Dartmouth

General information for faculty that may be helpful for external grant applications or for determining how best to engage undergraduates in research

Overview

Dartmouth College provides opportunities for undergraduates to engage in faculty-mentored research, scholarship and creative projects outside the classroom. Students acquire first-hand experience in an academic field while developing skills such as critical thinking, information processing, and effective communication. Because of Dartmouth’s quarter system and the requirement that students take at least one leave term during the traditional academic year, students can engage in research in a variety of ways at different points during their years at Dartmouth. Each year, U.S. News & World Report publishes a list of institutions of higher education that have stellar records in undergraduate research and creative projects, and Dartmouth is consistently on that list. 

COVID-19: Implications for UGAR programs

The following apply to ALL UGAR programs (additional policies for specific programs are included below):

  • Travel: the College has imposed a travel ban on both domestic and international travel. UGAR will not consider any applications for research that involve travel until the ban has been lifted. Students should not submit applications for travel waivers as those will be denied. Note that UGAR may extend its ban on funding international travel even if the college lifts the institutional ban.
  • Campus access: access to Dartmouth-affiliated buildings and facilities, including libraries and research labs, is restricted to undergraduates who are approved by the College for on campus enrollment.
  • Research labs: undergraduates who are approved by the College for on campus enrollment may have access to some research labs but NOT for research with faculty affiliated with Geisel or Tuck. Access to research labs requires special permission, and students may not engage in lab-based research until they have secured the relevant permissions and sent confirmation of approval to UGAR. Information about the restrictions and procedure for requesting research lab access is detailed in the policy on undergraduate research for academic year 2020-2021.
  • Student status: if students withdraw from the College for any reason (in good standing or not), they are not eligible for UGAR programs during the terms in which they are withdrawn. If students are accepted for a UGAR program in a given term but withdraw from the College during that term, they must contact UGAR immediately. See the College webpage on withdrawals for more information. 

Research Scholar programs 
(Presidential Scholars, Sophomore Research Scholars, Junior Research Scholars)

  • Remote research: students on a leave term OR students enrolled in classes but not in residence on campus may apply for research that will be conducted remotely from their current location. If any element of the research involves in-person interaction or access to locations outside of their current residence, students will need to justify the necessity of these elements and provide details about safety protocols and permissions.
  • On-campus research: only an option for students who are approved by the College for on campus enrollment. If any element of the research involves in-person interaction or access to labs or other campus spaces, students will need to justify the necessity of these elements and provide details about safety protocols and permissions

Research grants and fellowships
(Leave term grants, honors thesis grants, conference travel grants, Senior Fellowships, Stamps Scholarships, E.E. Just Fellowships, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships)

  • Leave terms: No funding for leave term research on campus (for specific guidelines about UGAR leave term grants, see the application Canvas site)
  • Enrolled on-campus terms: Funding for research on campus is only an option for students who are approved by the College for on-campus enrollment. Students must provide a justification for any element of on-campus research involving in-person interaction and/or access to campus facilities (including labs). Students also must confirm that they have obtained the appropriate permissions and will follow the established safety protocols.

How undergraduates engage in research

There are multiple ways to engage in research, scholarship and creative projects with a Dartmouth faculty mentor (which includes faculty in the Arts & Sciences as well as in Geisel School of Medicine, Thayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business):

  • For academic credit:
    • Independent research 
    • Senior honors thesis research
    • Senior Fellowships (large-scale independent projects that are conducted in lieu of a traditional major)
  • Not for academic credit:
    • Part-time research assistantships
    • Full-time research during a leave term
    • Hired directly by faculty and paid hourly wages

Funding levels for undergraduate research

The Dean of Faculty’s office of Undergraduate Advising & Research provides the broadest range of resources and funding, although programs are also offered through a number of campus offices as well as academic departments and programs. Funding levels, time commitment, and requirements vary across programs, but here is a general overview of funding levels per term for research opportunities that are paid as stipends rather than as hourly wages:

  • Part-time research assistantships: $1,000/term
  • Full-time leave term grants: $5,200/term
  • Senior honors thesis grants for expenses directly related to thesis research: $2,500/term
  • Awards for conference travel:
    • Seniors: $1,000
    • Other undergraduates: $500
       

UGAR Program Participation

Data on UGAR undergraduate participation in the following programs: WISP Research Internships, Sophomore and Junior Research Scholarships, Presidential Scholarships, Research Grants (honors thesis, leave term, conference travel).

  • 2014-2015:  635
  • 2015-2016:  567
  • 2016-2017:  558
  • 2017-2018:  609
  • 2018-2019:  642

* These numbers do not represent the total number of students participating in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. As noted above, students participate in undergraduate research in multiple other ways and in multiple other programs.