First-Year Scholars Program

First-Year Scholars Program
Watch a short video to learn more about the First Year Scholars program! Questions:
  • Date
  • Wednesday, August 14, 2024 by 11:59pm
    Deadline for proposals from Primary Investigators (PIs)
  • Wednesday, August 21, 2024
    PI proposals posted on the website; student application portal open
  • Week of August 26, 2024
    Mandatory PI/Co-PI orientation sessions
  • Thursday, August 22, 2024,  3:30pm-5:30pm
    Office of Undergraduate Research Open House event
  • Wednesday September 11, 2024 by 11:59pm
    Student applications due (students can apply for as many projects as they want)
  • Wednesday September 18, 2024 by 11:59pm
    PIs submit their top selections to the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR)
  • By Wednesday September 25, 2024
    The Office of Undergraduate Research will notify students about the selections (Students will only be selected to one project)
  • Friday, September 27, 2024 by 12:00pm
    Students with project choices or those who no longer wish to participate in the program, must notify the Office of Undergraduate Research of their decision

Now entering its sixth year, the First-Year Scholars Program pairs faculty/postdoctoral researcher mentors with first-year students to engage in a year-long research project.

Incoming students for Fall 2024 are part of FLIGHT28, a KSU initiative to help connect first-year students to KSU. The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) welcomes FLIGHT28 students to the First-Year Scholars Program!

The goal of this program is to introduce first-year students to the undergraduate research experience. We encourage students to apply for projects they find interesting, regardless of whether the projects are in their majors.

The students will serve as apprentices and will be integrated into the research programs of their Primary Investigator (PI), learning from both the PI and peers. This program helps students gain early research experience, which sets them on a path for future success. Research shows that early engagement in research is associated with positive outcomes, such as improved retention, progression, and graduation rates (Nagda et al., 1998; Schneider et al., 2015) and enrollment in graduate school (Hathaway et al., 2002).

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is pleased to support early involvement in undergraduate research.

Funding Details

  • First-Year Scholars receive up to $1,000 in the Fall and up to $1,000 in the Spring. They are expected to work on the research project for about 5-10 hours per week, attend professional development workshops, and/or social events held by the OUR, and complete periodic progress reports/surveys.
  • Primary Investigators (PIs) can receive up to $1,000 per student, for up to 5 students (the number of First-Year Scholars is not guaranteed). These funds must be used to support the First-Year Scholar Program project.
    • PIs will create a budget for their project in the application. Please contact us at with questions regarding allowable expenses.
    • These funds must be spent by the end of December unless the proposal includes funding for a conference presentation in the Spring.
    • Funding that cannot be used for the purposes described in the application will be forfeited.

Information for Primary Investigators (PIs)

    • Full-time KSU faculty members and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in mentoring a first-year student are eligible to apply. 
    • Mentors may only submit one project as the Primary Investigator (PI).
    • Selection is competitive; you will be notified if you have been selected within two weeks of the deadline. 
    • PI funding will become available in early October, after the students have been selected.
  • Thank you for your interest in serving as a mentor to a first-year student! We appreciate your dedication to student engagement. We hope that you and your student(s) have an amazing year and that the research partnership continues after this first year.

    Below are a few guidelines regarding mentoring First-Year Scholars:

    • Remember that they are in their first year – be nice! :)
    • Keep expectations reasonable (the students likely have no background in research)
    • Integrate them into existing work and with other team members if applicable (e.g., other faculty mentors on the project, postdocs, grad students, other undergrad researchers)
    • Aim for presentations/publications as appropriate
    • PIs are not obligated to work with their first-year scholars past May, but we encourage you to continue working with them if the experience has been positive

    As a mentor to a First-Year Scholar, you will be responsible for ensuring that each student in the program:

    • works on the project for an average of 5-10 hrs/week
    • presents at the Symposium of Student Scholars in April

    You will also be required to attend mandatory orientation sessions, complete progress reports, and submit mid-year and end of semester evaluation forms. If you do not complete these forms, you may not be eligible for future funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research.

    Please email if you have any additional questions. 

  • The following criteria are used to evaluate proposals for inclusion in the First-Year Scholars Program: 

    1. The PI has a strong track record of mentoring undergraduate researchers (or strong interest if new to KSU or new to undergraduate research mentoring)
    2. The PI has a productive research program (e.g., strong publication record, external funding, strong conference participation)
    3. The proposed project meets the definition of undergraduate research as defined by the Council on Undergraduate Research
    4. Consideration will be given to feedback from end-of-year reports received by the Office of Undergraduate Research
    5. Consideration will be given to use of prior awarded funds and their deliverables from the Office of Undergraduate Research

Information for Students

    • Students must be in their first year of college at KSU.
    • Students must be enrolled at KSU with fewer than 30 transfer credits (not including AP and dual enrollment credits).
    • Students interested in applying will complete an application on the InfoReady platform.
    • To remain in the First-Year Scholars Program in the Spring, students must be enrolled in classes and in good academic standing.
      • Student participation in the Spring is at the discretion of the PI and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
    • To receive stipend payments each semester, students in the First-Year Scholars Program are expected to participate in mandatory orientation sessions, attend events and/or workshops hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Undergraduate Research Peer Ambassadors. Requirements vary for each semester, and can be found here.
    • The project must be presented at the Symposium of Student Scholars in April
      • All First-Year scholars must submit a project abstract via the Symposium application by the deadline date, in order to present
        • The Undergraduate Research Peer Ambassadors will host a workshop on How to Write an Abstract. All students are encouraged to attend.
    • Progress Reports, mid-year surveys, and end of semester evaluation forms must be submitted on time to the Office of Undergraduate Research.
    • Students who would like more information or training about undergraduate research topics are encouraged to register for workshops, read the online resources, and watch the online videos.
      • These activities are optional, although mentors may require their students to engage in these activities. 

    Students who drop out of the program may not be eligible for future funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research. Please email for more information.

    • Before starting on the application, make sure you know the name of the project(s) you'd like to apply to. The listing of projects can be found here.

    To help you prepare for the application, the questions you will be asked in the application portal are listed below:

    1. Your name
    2. Your KSU email address
    3. Your major
    4. Title of the project you are applying for (this will be a drop-down menu with each project listed).
      • You are encouraged to apply for multiple projects if you want, but you will need to complete separate applications for each project.
      • Please note that you will only be permitted to work on one (1) project as part of the First-Year Scholars Program.
    5. Relevant Prior Experience (500 words max).
      • For example: involvement in clubs, work experience related to this project, internships, previous research experiences [even in a different discipline], coursework related to the project, coursework related to research methodology, coursework on statistics/data analysis, etc.
    6. Statement of Interest (500 words max).
      • For example: Why are you interested in this specific project? How do you see this project influencing your college career? What are your career aspirations?
      • We encourage you to tailor this section to the project to which you are applying.


  • Yes! We encourage PIs to continue participation in the program.

  • Advertisement occurs through direct emails, tabling at New Student Orientations, Student Inform, and various social media platforms.
  • Unfortunately, PIs cannot participate in the program if their project does not receive any student applications. We encourage you to be proactive in recruiting students. Consider visiting introductory classes in your department to talk to them about the program and your project specifically.

  • Students must be in their first year of college at KSU with fewer than 30 transfer credits (not including AP and dual enrollment credits). To remain in the First-Year Scholars Program in the Spring, students must be in good academic standing.

  • Yes! We encourage students to apply for as many projects as they are interested in. This is often a good way to increase your odds of being chosen for at least one of the projects. You will need to complete separate applications for each project. 

  • Definitely! We encourage students to branch out and participate in whatever projects interest them. Do not feel constrained by your home college/department; there might be a perfect fit for you elsewhere.

  • Students work on average 5-10 hours per week, although you should ask your PI for more specifics.

  • Some faculty/student pairings can participate in the Sophomore Scholars Program, which has limited funding. If the student and PI are not part of that program but would like to continue to work together in the student's second year, there are options:

    • Students can take Directed Study/Directed Methods (or the departmental equivalent)
    • Students can apply for URCA funding to subsidize undergraduate research in the sophomore, junior, and senior years

Additional Information

    • OUR will coordinate with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to track Retention, Progression, and Graduation (RPG) rates for participating students.
    • Mentors and first-year scholars will be surveyed regarding impact on research productivity.
  • To view previous projects, please click on the links below:

    • Hathaway, R. S., Nagda, B. A., & Gregerman, S. R. (2002). The relationship of undergraduate research participation to graduate and professional education pursuit: An empirical study. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 614-631.
    • Nagda, B. A., Gregerman, S. R., Jonides, J., von Hippel, W., & Lerner, J. S. (1998). Undergraduate student-faculty research partnerships affect student retention. The Review of Higher Education, 22, 55-72.
    • Schneider, K. R., Bickel, A., & Morrison-Shetlar, A. (2015). Planning and implementing a comprehensive student-centered research program for first-year STEM undergraduates. Journal of College Science Teaching, 44(3), 37-43.