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 2025 is 3.78 (based on grades through the end of fall 2022).
  • 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 URAD program in the same terms as their Presidential Scholars research.
  • The first term of your Presidential Scholarship counts toward the total of 5 terms of URAD but the second term in the program does not.
  • 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 and the Presidential Scholar program in the same academic year.

Be sure to also review the eligibility guidelines for UGAR programs before applying for the Presidential Scholars program.

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: $1200 stipend
  • Term 2: $1200 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 research assistantship.


  • 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. For more information, see the "waiver information" section of the current scholars page.
  • 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.

Presidential Scholars Program

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 26, 2023 deadline (due by 11:59pm)
  • Late applications will NOT be accepted for any reason
  • Research terms: you must indicate on the application form the two terms in which you intend to conduct the research. However, you may change the research terms at any point after the application process by emailing "undergraduate research." Note that you must complete two terms of research during your junior year (from "sophomore summer" through spring of junior year).