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Swanson Independent Scholar Program

Purpose: The Swanson Independent Scholar Program was founded in 1994 and honors Dr. W.C. Swanson, an alumnus of the College, whose family foundation has been a principal benefactor of the Scholl College Research Program. This program allows the highly motivated student to participate in the research process from beginning to end. In addition to the selection of a topic of interest, Swanson Scholars receive extra training in research methodology, preparation of manuscripts, and grant writing.

Each Swanson Independent Scholar identifies an area in which they would like to study and prepares a written proposal. The proposal is then defended before the Swanson Scholar Committee. If successful, the student is then officially admitted into the program to begin his or her research under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. The project must be completed and publicly presented before the Scholar graduates.

In the past, Swanson Independent Scholars have produced some of the most outstanding research projects in the College’s history. Due to the large time demands, and the strict academic requirements, only the most highly qualified and committed students are accepted into this program. However, based on past experiences, these students become highly sought after for the most competitive residency programs in the country.

Applications: Applications are due just after spring break, during the second year of school. All applicants must have a grade point average that places them in the top one-fourth of their class. The application is available from the Research Director and must include a formal research proposal and a commitment from a Scholl College faculty member to serve as the project adviser.

Admission to the Swanson Independent Scholar Program occurs in a stepwise fashion. Initially, a written proposal is submitted to the Swanson Independent Scholar Committee for assessment, and must be defended orally in a meeting before the committee. Provisional status may be granted if the committee feels that the candidate and the proposal submitted have promise, but still require further work. After the committee approves the proposal, the candidate is fully matriculated into the program. In addition to the research requirements, Swanson Independent Scholars must submit progress reports annually. Swanson Independent Scholar status is conferred at graduation, if the student has completed the proposed research, has provided the Committee with a satisfactory written report, and has presented and defended the work in a public venue.

Funding: Up to $3,000 is available from the College in order to pay for the materials and supplies needed to conduct the proposed research. However, all Swanson Independent Scholars who require research funding are strongly encouraged to develop and submit a research grant application to an external organization as well, as part of the research experience.

No salary or stipend is offered with this program from the College. However, if external funding is secured, it may be used to pay a stipend to the Scholar, provided this is acceptable to the funding organization.