First-Year Scholars Program

First-Year Scholars Program

Deadline for Faculty & Postdoctoral Researcher Applications: Monday August 23, 2021 at 11:59pm

Deadline for Student Applications: Monday September 20, 2021 at 11:59pm

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

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 mentor, learning from both the mentor 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 is pleased to support early involvement in undergraduate research.

    • First-Year Scholars receive $1,000 in the Fall and $1,000 in the Spring. They are expected to work on the research project for about 5-10 hours per week. 
    • Mentors receive a total of $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. Mentors 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 the fiscal year (June).
    • Full-time KSU faculty members and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in mentoring a first-year student are eligible to apply. The application deadline is typically in August.
    • Criteria:
      • Strong track record of mentoring undergraduate researchers
      • Productive research program (strong publication record, external funding, strong conference participation)
      • Representative of the full breadth of research activity at Kennesaw State University
    • Selection is competitive; you will be notified if you have been selected within two weeks of the deadline. 
    • Mentor funding will become available after the students have been selected. 
    • Students interested in applying should complete the form here. Before starting on the form, make sure you know the name of the project(s) you'd like to apply to. The listing of projects can be found here
    • Advertisement will occur through University Admissions and Student Inform.
    • 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. Your high school GPA
      5. 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 this form separately 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.
      6. 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.
      7. Statement of Interest (500 words max). For example: Why are you interested in this 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.
    • 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. Student participation in the Spring is at the discretion of the mentor and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
    • The project will be presented at the Symposium of Student Scholars in April.
    • Evaluation forms will be submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters.
    • 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.

  • 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
    • Mentors 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 complete an evaluation form at the end of the Fall semester and end of the Spring semester. 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 questions. 

    • 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:

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

    • Unfortunately, faculty 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. Student participation in the Spring is at the discretion of the mentor and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

    • 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 a separate application form 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.

    • When you are confirmed as working on a particular project, we will ask you to complete some paperwork that allows us to pay you. Once you've completed the paperwork, it takes a few weeks to process and then mail the check (or do direct deposit if you've chosen that). On average, first-year scholars are paid their $1,000 sometime in the middle of the fall semester. In the spring semester, we confirm with your mentor that you are making satisfactory progress on your project before mailing out your spring check. 

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

    • Each project is different; you should email the contact person on each project to ask.

    • Some faculty/student pairings are participating in the Sophomore Scholars Program, which has limited funding. If the student and mentor 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.
    • 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.