Program Information

About the Presidential Scholars Program

The James O. Freedman Presidential Scholars Program was initiated in 1988 and provides opportunities for juniors to work as research assistants with Dartmouth faculty. These opportunities are intended to prepare students for undertaking senior honors theses.

Students participating in the program are not expected to generate their own independent research projects. The nature of the work and skills required will vary depending on the project, and students should be sure that they have communicated with their faculty mentors and are clear about the expectations prior to the start of the assistantship.

In 1997, the Program was endowed by John (Launny) L. Steffens, Dartmouth '63. The program was renamed in January of 2007 in honor of James O. Freedman, 16th President of Dartmouth College, in recognition of his commitment to undergraduate teaching and scholarship.

ORC section on Presidential Scholars

Presidential Scholar Eligibility

  • Available only to rising juniors who have attained a GPA in the top 40 percent of the class at the end of fall term of sophomore year.
  • GPA cut-off for the class of 2021 is 3.64 (based on grades through the end of fall 2018).
  • Eligible students will be notified winter term of sophomore year and can interview for the assistantships during winter and spring terms of sophomore year. The application deadline is in the spring.
  • Research assistantships may begin as early as “sophomore summer,” and both terms must be completed by the end of spring term of junior year.
  • Students participating in the Presidential Scholars program are not eligible to participate in the Junior Research Scholars program.
  • Students may not participate in other campus research programs (e.g. Neukom Scholars, Human Development Fellowships) in the same terms as they are engaging in Presidential Scholar research. There is one exception: students may participate in the Stamps Scholars program (DCAL's experiential learning program) and the Presidential Scholar program in the same academic year.

Be sure to also review the eligibility guidelines for UGAR programs before applying for a Presidential Scholarship.

Presidential Scholar Awards

The program requires a two-term commitment, and students are expected to work 7-12 hours per week during each term of the assistantship (for a total of 100 hours per term):

  • Term 1: $1000 stipend
  • Term 2: $1000 stipend OR academic credit as Independent Study

Independent Study

Independent Study credit must be arranged through the faculty advisor for the James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar project and approved by that professor's department. Some departments have specific requirements and pre-requisites for approval of research for credit, and students must satisfy these requirements in order to be eligible for independent study credit. If the independent study is approved by the department, students must register for the course through the Registrar's office. Students may not receive both a stipend and independent study credit for their second term of Presidential Scholar research. 

Independent study credit is not an option for the first term of the scholarship.


  • Assistantships can be done during any two academic terms of junior year (agreed on by you and your faculty mentor). 
  • Assistantships can begin in "sophomore summer" but not before that.  Assistantships must be completed by the end of spring term of junior year.
  • Students who cannot complete both terms of the assistantship during junior year will be discontinued from the program.
  • It is expected that the assistantship will be conducted during term(s) in which the student is enrolled in classes and both the student and their faculty mentor are on campus. In some cases, this policy may be waived (waiver information below).
  • Students must complete both terms with the same faculty mentor (as specified on the initial application).
  • Students who choose an assistantship with a faculty member outside their major department may not be eligible for independent study credit in the second term and may not be able to continue the research as a senior honors thesis. Check with your major department for specific information on the department's policy.

Waiver Information

  • It is expected that the assistantship will be conducted during term(s) in which the student is enrolled in classes and both the student and their faculty mentor are on campus. In some cases, this policy may be waived if there is a compelling reason to do so (e.g. student and faculty mentor are both on the same off-campus program).
  • Students who want to pursue this option must submit a petition BEFORE the start of the research term. Both the faculty mentor and UGAR must approve the waiver.
  • It is frequently the case that students do not complete assistantships conducted during off terms and end up discontinuing the program. Those that are successful have a clear plan established before the start of the term and maintain regular contact with their faculty mentors.                                                  

Click here to access the petition form.

Presidential Scholarship application deadline

Students will be notified of their eligibility to apply for Presidential Scholarships in winter of sophomore year. Applications are due in spring term of sophomore year:

  • Next deadline: April 29, 2020 (due by 11:59pm)
    • The application link, at the botton of the Presidential Scholars application webpage, will be live as of February 4, 2020

** Late applications are not accepted. If you have questions or issues related to your application, you must contact UGAR before the application deadline.