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CAS Application for AU Summer Scholars & Artists Program


Advanced undergraduates are invited to apply to be an American University Summer Scholar & Artist for 2020. Undergraduate Scholars will receive a payment of $4,000 to support their research-related expenses, which may include living expenses, travel, equipment, supplies, etc.

The intention of this program is to give talented students an opportunity to explore an intellectual interest in depth and at length. Their project might find its final form in an independent study in the following year as the student’s thinking matures. The selection committee will need to keep such issues in mind as they decide which projects to fund.

Scholars will work closely with faculty mentors in ways that enhance faculty scholarship or creativity. Faculty mentors will receive a $1,000 stipend to guide students through their scholarship apprenticeship. 

Faculty members must actively mentor the Scholar throughout the application process, scholarly endeavor, and final presentation. They will aid students in all phases of development, design, implementation, analysis/interpretation and presentation of the scholarly or creative work. During the summer, they will remain in frequent contact with students and provide timely feedback. Students are not required to remain on campus or in Washington, D.C. area over the summer. However, if a students wishing to work remotely must specify how they will communicate with their mentor. Finally, faculty will help students find appropriate venues for sharing the results of their scholarship.

Projects may be conducted jointly with professors or with other students, but the project must show evidence of significant original work by the Scholar. For example, if the Scholar or Artist is directly involved in a faculty research project, they must have their own area of intellectual inquiry to investigate and participate in all phases of design, development, execution, analysis, and conclusions. In essence, the relationship would be one of apprenticeship rather than research assistance.

Faculty mentors must be active throughout the application, research, and presentation phases, helping students explore their interests, focus their topic, and find appropriate research materials and contacts. They will assist students first to identify the knowledge and skills required to complete the project and then to plan ways of acquiring that knowledge and those skills. They will aid students in defining research phases and setting research deadlines. During the summer, they will remain in frequent contact with students and provide timely feedback. They will help students find appropriate venues for sharing the results of their research. Faculty mentors are required to write a paragraph describing their role and expectations in mentoring the scholar.

Scholars may or may not be directly involved in the faculty mentor's own research. If they are directly involved, mentors should think of these students not as research assistants but as apprentices. That is, Scholars should have their own research problem or question to investigate so that they can participate in all phases of research design, development, analysis, and conclusions.

Scholars can expect to be invited to attend information sessions or workshops after receiving the payment and are encouraged to publicly present their completed work. For instance, they might incorporate their work into a senior or honors capstone; they might present their work at a conference at AU or elsewhere; at the CAS Robin Rafferty Matthias Conference, or they might publish, display, or perform their work on or off campus.

Scholars and artists are encouraged to participate in workshops on scholarship sponsored by the University Honors program, CTRL, the Academic Support Center, or the University Library— and may be asked to attend information sessions or workshops after receiving the payment. Scholars are invited to provide a summary of their project to the Dean of their school or college and to the Office of Undergraduate Education by the end of the calendar year.

Application Requirements

Recipients are required to work full-time on their scholarly or artistic activity for a designated period of eight weeks in the summer. Any summer session courses taken by a recipient must fall outside the eight weeks identified as their program period.

Scholars must be undergraduates. Their fall 2020 classes can be at AU or at AU Abroad. At the end of the registration period in April, the Office for Undergraduate Education will check to ensure that scholars are indeed registered for fall 2020 classes. All applications must include:

  • a cover page with the title of the project, the names and email addresses of the student and faculty mentor, and the student’s primary major and AU ID. If applicable include secondary majors and minors.
  • an abstract (300 word maximum) and a short list of key words.
  • the proposal itself, limited to 1,000 words (not including references). Describe the project (exactly what you will do), explain the project’s significance in terms of your field, and provide information regarding the academic training that will enable you to undertake this proposed activity.
  • a detailed timeline for the proposed project.
  • a letter of support from the intended faculty mentor.

Selection Process

The committee will be composed of the CAS Associate Dean of Research, the CAS Research Committee and possibly faculty representatives drawn from the academic units. The representatives will be appointed by the respective Dean or designee.

The committee will choose four recipients, one in each of the CAS clusters: Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. Recipients will be chosen on the quality of the proposal, presentation and answers to questions posed by the committee.


All funds need to be disbursed to the Scholar by April 30th, 2020.

Acknowledge and Publicity

Summer Scholars, Artists and their mentors will be acknowledged in the spring at a College event. The American University Office for Undergraduate Studies will notify various university and other publications about the winners, both in the spring after the announcement and in the fall after the symposium.

Applications should be submitted to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies for CAS at by Monday, March 2st, 2020. Recipients will be announced by the Dean of Undergraduate Education on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020.