Is a Senior Fellowship right for me?

Senior Fellowships provide an unprecedented opportunity for students who are prepared to undertake a large-scale independent academic project.

Types of projects

The Senior Fellowship is an alternative to a traditional major and can be in any academic discipline – the sciences, social sciences, humanities, or the arts. Projects can be within an academic discipline or across disciplines. The only constraint is a Senior Fellowships must involve a project for which the intellectual scope and breadth of imagination goes beyond that which can be accomplished by taking courses offered in the existing curriculum.

Within an academic discipline:
Projects that are in sufficient depth such that they could not be accomplished as an honors thesis or culminating project.

  • Senior Fellow: Anise Vance ‘11
  • Title: Tracing traumatic histories:  Segregation, post-memory, and the creation of Black identities
  • Description: Anise’s Senior Fellowship project explored the ways in which geography and racial identities are explicitly and implicitly linked. 
  • What made this a Senior Fellowship: Anise used Hartford, Connecticut as a case study for his project. If the project were a senior honors thesis in the Geography department, Anise would have been limited to data available in city and state archives as well as limited interviews with residents and elected officials. As a Senior Fellow, he was able to spend a full academic term in Hartford as a participant observer, living in the community and developing relationships. In addition to the data generated by this added methodology, the relationships he developed resulted in more in depth interviews and access to data.

Across academic disciplines:
Projects that are interdisciplinary to such an extent that they could not be done within a traditional or modified major.

  • Senior Fellow: Tyné Freeman ‘17
  • Title: Bridges: Exploring Collaboration Across Cultures & Continents
  • Description: The project consisted of two primary components: a reflexive ethnography and music composition and performance. For the music component of the project, Tyné co-wrote songs with six artists hailing from countries of the African diaspora and recorded an album of the songs. Her ethnography focused on the role of music in the formation of diaspora identities as well as on the nature of her collaborations with the African musicians.
  • What makes this a Senior Fellowship: if this were a Music honors thesis or culminating project, Tyné would have been limited to the composition and performance component. She also would not have been able to work with the African musicians. The extent of those collaborations and the resulting ethnography added unique elements to her project and challenged her to consider the role of history and culture in music and to take those factors into consideration when collaborating across cultures.

Faculty Advisors

A key element of a Senior Fellowship is faculty advising. Most Senior Fellows have more than one faculty advisor, particularly if the project is interdisciplinary. Each Senior Fellow must have a faculty member who agrees to be the primary advisor for the project. If the primary advisor is not on the tenure-track, one of the secondary advisers must meet that criterion.

Faculty advisors for Senior Fellowships are expected to be closely involved in the project from beginning to end. During the application process, students consult with their advisor(s) to hone the project and develop the written proposal. Students who are selected as Senior Fellows are expected to meet with their primary advisors weekly throughout the Fellowship and also consult regularly with secondary advisors. Candidates for Senior Fellowships therefore should be certain that their faculty advisors understand and agree to the level of involvement required. It is a significant time commitment and not all faculty can commit to advising a Senior Fellowship.

Preparation for a Senior Fellowship

This timeline assumes a typical academic schedule: applying in the spring of junior year to begin a fellowship in the fall of senior year. If you wish to start a fellowship in a term other than fall of senior year, you MUST contact the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research no later than the third week of the term THREE terms before you wish to begin the fellowship.

Applications will not be accepted from students who do not adhere to the deadlines specified in this application timeline.

Fall of junior year (or earlier):

  • Identify a primary advisor for the project
  • Work with primary advisor to design the fellowship project
  • Read the ORC section on Senior Fellowships

Winter of junior year:

  • Do any background research or work necessary for the project
  • Consult with faculty who might serve as secondary advisors or consultants for the fellowship
  • Work on the project proposal and submit an initial draft to your primary advisor
  • Submit the Senior Fellowship Interest Form no later than the 6th week of the term
  • Meet with UGAR to discuss the program, the application process, and your proposed project (to be scheduled after submitting the interest form)

Spring of junior year:

  • Complete the final draft of the written proposal no later than the first week of spring term
  • Request three letters of recommendation from faculty members in the first week of spring term. Provide your recommenders with your written proposal at the time you request the recommendations.
  • Submit the application on or before the deadline
  • Initial notifications will be sent out 2-3 weeks after the application deadline.  
  • Applicants who are selected to advance to the next stage will be interviewed by the Committee on Senior Fellowships.  Both the applicant and his/her primary advisor are required to attend the interview.
  • Final selection of Senior Fellows will be completed by the end of the term, and students will be notified of those decisions via email.

Academic schedules

The academic schedules for Senior Fellows are as unique and variable as the Fellowships themselves. Each applicant submits an academic plan specifying proposed coursework and credits for the fellowship year. The plan must include six courses directly related to the Senior Fellowship project. At least four of the six must be Senior Fellowship courses, with the remainder (if any) from relevant department and program course offerings. The following are some examples of Senior Fellowship academic plans.

Senior Fellow #1:
Has completed all distributives but wants to complete the requirements for the English major in addition to the Senior Fellowship. The remainder of the year will be dedicated to the fellowship project.

Term 1:
ENGL 47:  History of the English Language [for the major]
SRFL 091
SRFL 091

Term 2:
SRFL 092
SRFL 092

Term 3:
SRFL 093
SRFL 093

Senior Fellow #2:
Does not plan to complete a major in addition to the Senior Fellowship but does have two remaining distributives. Plans to be off campus doing field research for the fellowship project for the second term of the project so cannot be enrolled in classes during that term.

Term 1:
GEOG 3: The Natural Environment [SCI]
ENVS 15: Environmental Issues of the Earth's Cold Regions [TAS]
SRFL 091

Term 2:
SRFL 092
SRFL 092
SRFL 092

Term 3:
SRFL 093
SRFL 093

Senior Fellow #3:
Needs to complete one distributive plus one more prerequisite for medical school. Also needs to take a methodology course in the first term of the fellowship to prepare for field work in the second term.

Term 1:
BIOL 40: Biochemistry [pre-med course]
ANTH 18: Research methods in Cultural Anthropology [for the fellowship]
SRFL 091

Term 2:
ENGS 16: Biomedical Engineering for Global Health [TAS]
SRFL 092
SRFL 092

Term 3:
ANTH 72: Ethnicity and nationalism [for the fellowship]
SRFL 093
SRFL 093