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CUSP Independent Research & Creative Projects Grant

Summer 2017 

The CUSP Independent Research and Creative Project provides partial financial support for Scholars who wish to conduct their own independent research or creative project under the guidance of a professor or creative professional.

The independent project affords scholars the opportunity to engage with the methodological framework of independent academic research and/or the creative process. A branch of the summer enhancement fellowship, the independent program differs from the practicum in that it aims to familiarize students with the skill set specific to formal academic writing and researching, which include preparing a research statement, developing an appropriate research question, working with an academic mentor, and utilizing academic resources like archives. The fellowship thus serves as an invaluable foundation for students who might be interested in writing an undergraduate thesis, pursuing a graduate degree or producing a portfolio.

Students considering the independent project should be aware that the process requires sustained and serious commitment. In order to qualify for the fellowship, students must attend a series of preparatory workshops run by the graduate student mentors, find a faculty mentor, prepare drafts of their work for feedback ahead of the submission deadline, and present their work the following fall.

Below is a timeline of the key events and requirements.

Independent Projects Workshop #1

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
6:00-8:00 p.m.
401 Lerner Hall

What does a proposal entail? What is the difference between an independent research project and a creative project? Graduate Student Mentors will introduce the components of the research proposal beginning with the title and ending with the budget. This workshop will address how to formulate appropriate problem statements, research questions, bibliography, finding a mentor, etc. GSM's will introduce students to resources on campus such as the writing center, Columbia library info services, etc. 

The workshop will cover the following items: 

  1. What is expected of students who receive the grant

  2. Overview of deadlines, requirements, budget guidelines, codes of behavior

  3. Identifying and developing a research question or topic

  4. Writing the research proposal and thesis

  5. Finding a mentor

  6. On-campus resources

DEADLINE Wednedsay, January 25, 2017:DRAFT PROPOSAL DUE

  • The proposal should explain a plan or suggestion for the CUSP Independent Project Summer Fellowship
  • Identify possible faculty adviser
  • Prepare a 5 minute "elevator speech" for feedback
  • Please send proposals to the CUSP Program Coordinator, Leah Marangos:
  • Any drafts submitted after the 25th will not be considered
Independent Projects: Workshop #2
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
6:00-8:00 p.m.
401 Lerner Hall
Working with their draft proposals, students break into small groups to discuss their proposals with the GSM's and their peers. Fellow students wil provide constructive feedback. 
A to Z Workshop #3: for all Scholars applying for Summer Funding

APPLICATION DUE: Monday, APRIL 17, 2017. 

Applications will be evaluated by a selection committee on the basis of their overall fulfillment of the selection criteria. Incomplete applications and candidates who do not meet the criteria will not be considered. Interviews for selected applicants, and notification of the final decision, will take place in April.

  • All Scholars receiving the CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowship will be expected to update an Edu-blog on a weekly basis during the summer, beginning on the first Friday of their summer fellowship.

  • Scholars are expected to submit a paper (20-25 pages) by Friday, September 15, 2017.

  • Scholars should include at least one visual representing the project.

  • The final blog entry will consist of the abstract.

  • When Scholars blog their final abstract, they will also email their budget reconciliation and scanned receipts to the graduate student mentor of their edu-blog.

  • Scholars should also be prepared to present the results of their research at the symposium in October/November.

Criteria for Selection

To be considered for the grant, applicants must: (1) have a GPA of at least 3.0; (2) be in good academic standing with Columbia College and the School of Engineering; (3) be in good standing with CUSP; and (4) have attended at least EIGHT CUSP events in an academic year.

Applications will be evaluated on: (1) the basis of the originality and scholarly promise of the project; (2) the feasibility, clarity, and coherence of the proposal; (3) the ability of the applicant to undertake the research; and (4) the commitment of a faculty sponsor.

Human Subjects Research

Many applicants wish to undertake “human subjects research” in which they interview or survey people.  Because of the importance of treating human subjects ethically and ensuring that no harm comes to someone who participates in research, all universities are federally mandated to oversee approval of all human subject research through an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Any applicants wishing to undertake such research will be required to contact Dean Hazel May in the Office of Academic Affairs. 


CUSP does not vet the safety or security of the setting in which the students intend to pursue their projects. It is the individual students’ responsibility to take the appropriate precautions about the settings in which they intend to pursue their project. The nature of this fellowship is solely for financial support.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

Fax: (212) 854-2562

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.