Dean's First-Year Research & Creative Scholars Program

Portrait: Barbara Schwab

Barbara Schwab
Assistant Director

Jadah Green
Program Specialist

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Research opportunities are key experiences for undergraduate students; however, most research programs focus on sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Through the Dean's First-Year Research and Creative Scholars program—the first program of its kind among Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) institutions—the College of Liberal Arts has taken the lead in engaging outstanding first-year students with faculty scholars.

This program has 3 goals:

  • recruit outstanding students to the college
  • create an early opportunity for students to interact with faculty members at a premier university
  • highlight faculty scholarship that engages undergraduate students         

Each fall we invite faculty—tenured or tenure-track—to submit research or creative project proposals that can benefit from the assistance of one or more of our talented first-year students.

A Signature Program

While there are similar programs (like the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) that aim at sophomores, juniors, and seniors doing a traditional research project with faculty, we've been able to show that research and creative opportunities are a powerful experience for first-year students as well. There are five ways in which this program is unique and important to our college:

  1. The awards help recruit highly talented first-year students to the college.
  2. Students must take an active part in research or a creative project, so there is some thoughtful co-curricular engagement and activity in the liberal arts by the freshmen who receive funding.
  3. Faculty-student interaction is a core component of the program. This type of 'touchstone' is an important element to help keep students invested and motivated in their college careers.
  4. Undergraduates in the program experience research and creative work first-hand with our most talented faculty members. As the only liberal arts college in Minnesota with a research-intensive mission, this is a unique experience for students and speaks directly to our core mission.
  5. The program's flexibility works well across the social sciences, arts, and humanities. All faculty and students can find some point of intersection around research and creative work.

How the Program Works

The Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education will match up to 150 outstanding admitted first-year students with CLA faculty. This program is a collegiate program awarded to students through the admissions process as part of their scholarship package and is based on their College of Liberal Arts scholarship application, test scores, and GPA. This is not a program that students are able to apply for participation on their own.

Students participate in the research or creative opportunity during the spring semester of their first year in CLA. Students receive a stipend of $2,000 for devoting 6-10 hours each week in the research or creative experience. Students register for CLA 1051 or 1052 for spring semester; this ensures the experience appears on the student's transcripts.

At the end of the experience, Students are required to submit a poster presentation, short report (3 pages), or another agreed-upon project to the faculty member (with a copy to the Office of Undergraduate Education) at the end of the semester.

Previous Projects

Examples of the types of projects that faculty and freshmen have worked on:

  • creating videos, podcasts, and artwork
  • collaborating with schools and community organizations
  • working with historical materials and archives
  • being part of a laboratory team
  • doing survey research
  • researching sources and proofing books before publication
  • helping to develop plays