Program Information

The Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1988 and endowed in 1997 by John (Launny) L. Steffens '63. At his request, the program was renamed in 2007 in honor of James O. Freedman, 16th President of Dartmouth College, in recognition of his commitment to undergraduate teaching and scholarship.

James O. Freedman Presidential Scholars

The goal of the program is to provide meaningful faculty-mentored research experiences for juniors. 

The program is intended to prepare students for honors thesis research.

  • Student eligibility: Sophomores who fall within the top 40 percent of the class are eligible to apply.
    • GPA cut-off for class of 2026: 3.78 (based on grades at the end of fall 2023).
  • Faculty eligibility: Mentors for this program must have an appointment that is tenure-line, research track or lecturer/senior lecturer.
  • Project guidelines: Students are not expected to generate their own projects, and the research must contribute to the student's academic development.
  • Selection criteria: Factors considered in selection.
    • Alignnment of the project with the student's academic trajectory.
    • Intention of the student to pursue honors thesis research in senior year.
    • Prior research or academic experience related to the proposed project.

Students apply for the program in the spring of sophomore year.

  • Eligible students are notified in winter of sophomore year, and the application deadline is in spring of sophomore year.
  • Students contact faculty about research opportunities. Faculty may also approach students with whom they would be interested in working.
  • Once the student and faculty mentor agree on a project, students submit an online application. Faculty mentors then confirm the proposed collaboration via an online form.

Students accepted to the program engage in part-time research.

  • Students who apply to the program commit to engaging in the research for two academic terms while they are also enrolled in classes.
    • Both terms must be completed during junior year (the first term can be as early as sophomore summer).
  • It is expected that students devote the equivalent time/effort to what they would for an academic class. That is estimated to be an average of 10 hours a week during a 10 week term (approximate total of 100 hours during the academic term).
  • A stipend will be issued at the end of each term, contingent on confirmation by both the student and faculty research mentor.
    • In the second term, students may elect to get independent study credit rather than a stipend, but only if they receive approval from both the faculty mentor and the academic department/program.
  • Timesheets are not required since payment is via stipend rather than hourly wages, but students should maintain a document tracking the time spent on the research and the tasks accomplished.

Presidential Scholar Program Guidelines

  • Students engage as research assistants on faculty research projects.
    • The nature of the work and skills required will vary depending on the project, so be sure you are clear about the expectations prior to the start of the assistantship.
  • Students participating in the Presidential Scholars program may NOT participate in other UGAR programs in the same terms.
    • Students may not accept funding from other sources/programs or get academic credit for the same research in the same terms as the Presidential Scholarship.
    • The first term of your Presidential Scholarship counts toward the maximum of 5 terms of URAD but the second term in the program does not.
  • Students must be on campus during both terms of the assistantship. This requirement will not be waived for any reason.  
    • Students are expected to be enrolled in classes (R term).
    • Students who will be on a leave term but will be on campus may petition for an exception to the enrollment requirement (see "waiver information" on the current scholars page).
    • Students who are on off-campus program or transfer/exchange program may not do the research assistantship in that term.
    • Students who cannot complete both terms of the assistantship during junior year will be discontinued from the program.
  • Be sure to consult with your prospective faculty mentor in advance of submitting an application to ensure that you are in agreement about the two terms of research. 
    • Students must complete both terms with the same faculty mentor (as specified on the initial application)
    • Faculty mentors are expected to be on campus during the terms of the assistantship. If that is not the case, you must have an on-campus supervisor who is involved in the project (graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, etc.).
  • Students who choose an assistantship with a faculty mentor 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 or progam for information on their policy.
    • Research outside of your major department may be a better fit for URAD than for Presidential Scholars.
  • Be sure to also review the following:

Presidential Scholar Awards

The program requires a two-term commitment. Students are expected to devote the equivalent time and effort to what they would for an academic class (approximately 100 hours per term, based on 7-12 hours per week for 10 weeks). Students who successfully complete this requirement are eligible for:

  • Term 1: $1200 stipend
  • Term 2: $1200 stipend OR academic credit as Independent Study

Independent Study Option

  • This is an option only for term 2 of the assistantship
  • It must be arranged in advance with your faculty research mentor and approved by the relevant department or program.
  • 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 or program, you must register for the course as you would for any other class.
  • If you opt for independent study credit, you are NOT eligible for a stipend. 

Presidential Scholars Application

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

  • April 24, 2024 deadline (due by 11:59pm)
    • Late applications will NOT be accepted for any reason

NOTE: this is a two term program and both terms must be completed during R terms in your junior year ("sophomore summer" through spring of junior year). If this is not feasible due to scheduling constraints, URAD may be a better option.