Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities at St. Olaf College

Mentored Undergraduate Research during Summer

Every year, St. Olaf students are invited to apply for full-time, paid, mentored undergraduate research positions. Most projects comprise ten-week experiences on campus that allow students to grow in their research and/or creative inquiry skills.  Some projects take alternative forms (e.g., shorter time periods; conducted in part or in full at off-campus research locations) in light of differences across fields of study. Projects that require field work or visits to resources that cannot be found on campus often have a shorter duration to offset the cost of student travel.  Regardless, summer research and inquiry projects make strong contributions to scholarship at and beyond St. Olaf College.

All Faculties (FA, HUM, IGS, NSM, SS) participate in the summer research program.

2020 Summer Program Timeline for Student Applications:

  • Thursday, January 9 – Summer Research Project descriptions (both college-funded and grant-funded) posted to CURI Elevator database; student application form made available online.
  • Monday, February 17 – Student applications due; all application materials should be submitted electronically via Handshake.
  • Monday, March 2 – Faculty send CURI office their selections for student researchers
  • Friday, March 6 – CURI notifies all student applicants selected (rejection notices sent as offers to each project are accepted or declined by students)
  • Students have until Friday, April 10th (deadline extended from March 20th) to accept or decline the offered position
  • May 26 – Orientation and start of 10-week Summer Research Program.
  • July 31 – Closing symposium

Independent Summer Research: Steen Fellowship 

The Lynn and Mary Steen Fellowship aims to support student-initiated projects that demonstrate independent scholarship, investigation, and creativity. Student Steen Fellows pursue their projects independently of faculty mentors.


Steen Fellowships for student-initiated projects expand opportunities for undergraduate research and investigation by enabling qualified students to undertake independent scholarship, investigation or creative activities in any field related to their college studies. Fellowships are intended to encourage applicants to explore intellectual and creative interests beyond the classroom. Projects should be designed and carried out by the applicant and should culminate in some sort of public report, presentation, performance or display.

A selection committee of faculty will approve funding for feasible, interesting and well-designed projects that fit the applicant’s background and goals. For example, Fellowships might support research in libraries, laboratories, museums or archives; projects could involve fieldwork, travel or creating works of art. Proposals should be developed with the guidance of faculty but do not require faculty supervision. Fellowship awards are based on the quality and originality of the proposal and the qualifications of the applicant to successfully complete the project.

Normally, projects will be carried out in the summer and will not be eligible for academic credit. Fellowships are not to be used for support of internships or for formal study at other academic institutions. Eligibility is limited to rising juniors and seniors; awards are based on the proposal’s merit and budget and will not depend on an applicant’s financial aid status.

The program will award 3-5 Fellowships each year of up to $5,000 each for an 8-10 week summer project.


All application materials should be submitted electronically through the online form  Applications must be received by February 28, 2020. Only complete applications will be considered.  Successful applicants will be contacted no later than Friday, March 20, 2020.

Application items include:

  1. Project description. Describe project significance; contributions to area of study; methods; specific goals; preparation; and relevance for future studies and career discernment.
  2. Project budget.  This completed Steen-Fellowship-Budget-Worksheet-2020 must be uploaded as part of the application.
  3. Self-written statement of professional conduct, ethics and safety as appropriate for the scope and nature of the project. Resources for professionalism can be found here.
  4. Plans for dissemination of the work completed during the project
  5. Letter of recommendation regarding your suitability for completing an independent, unsupervised project from an on-campus (St. Olaf) mentor, preferably a member of the faculty.  Your letter should be written with someone who can comment directly on the feasibility and significance of the project you design. Letters should be submitted directly to on or before the deadline.
  6. Letter from host institution or project site (if applicable)
  7. Unofficial transcripts
  8. For projects involving human subjects an IRB Review Request and Ethics Plan may have to be completed: plan ahead for how you will meet this requirement.
  9. For projects involving digital scholarship this form needs to be completed in consultation with IT and or DISCO staff members.

Successful candidates will be asked to complete a waiver and a student stipend request form before initiating work on their project.