Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Home / Rabi Scholars Program Student Handbook / Rabi Scholars Program Student Handbook

Rabi Scholars Program Student Handbook

Welcome to the Rabi Scholars Program. This Handbook will serve as your guide to the Rabi Scholars Program and will help you to make the best of the opportunities that the program provides. Founded in 1989 by faculty of the science departments at Columbia University, the Rabi Scholars Program supports and encourages highly talented young scientists in Columbia College by providing research opportunities throughout their undergraduate careers. This handbook gives you important information about planning and implementing your research, obtaining research stipends, and locating the appropriate person when you have academic or administrative questions.

Summer Research Program

The distinguishing characteristic of the Rabi Program is the opportunity for outstanding students of science to engage in research with Columbia faculty and/or other researchers during the summer. As a Rabi Scholar you are not required to undertake research every summer, but must do so at least once in any two-year period while you are a student at Columbia College. If you do not undertake research over two consecutive summers you will be dismissed from the Rabi Scholars Program.

When undertaking approved research with Columbia faculty and/or other Columbia researchers, you are entitled to a summer stipend and campus housing that is provided free of charge. If you are undertaking approved research at another institution, you are also entitled to a summer stipend and housing assistance up to the value of the Columbia summer housing cost. The summer program normally runs for 10 weeks between the beginning of June and the middle of August, and in May the Rabi Scholars Office will send you a letter that gives you detail on how you will receive both your summer stipend and, if relevant, your Columbia housing assignment.

Planning Research

By April 1st you must indicate to your Rabi Advisor (typically a Rabi Faculty Committee member in the student's major department) and the Rabi Faculty Chair your expectation to conduct research that entitles you to the summer stipend and campus housing. By May 1st you must submit, by email or attachment to both the Chair of the Rabi Faculty Committee and your Rabi Advisor, a research proposal that describes your research plans. The proposal should outline, in language accessible to a non-specialist, the scientific issue to be addressed, why the issue is of interest or importance, and the methodology or research strategy to be employed. It should also include a title for the project, the complete name and affiliation of the research mentor, and the duration of the research project.

If insufficient information is available to complete a full proposal by this deadline (for example, in the case of group projects in mathematics), a provisional project summary must be submitted by May 1st, and updated as soon as possible during the summer.

Eligible Research

Summer research programs must have scientific inquiry at their core. Programs in which you act primarily as an educator/teacher, or programs in which the primary activity is clinical in nature, with no research component, will not be eligible for summer funding.

While Rabi Scholars will normally work primarily with Columbia science faculty and other researchers, you will be allowed to conduct research either on campus or off campus, and with scientists not necessarily affiliated with Columbia, as long as the research is approved by the Rabi Faculty Committee. If you are conducting such approved research at institutions other than Columbia you may receive the summer stipend and have your housing and travel costs reimbursed (upon submission of receipts to the Rabi Scholars Office) up to the cost of on-campus housing for that year.

Rabi Scholars who live at home while conducting summer research are not eligible for the housing stipend; however, you may receive the summer stipend and reimbursement for travel expenses to and from the site of your research.

Eligible Students

If you are still engaged in an ongoing research project when you graduate from Columbia College you are eligible to apply for a summer research stipend and campus housing for your first post-graduation summer. The faculty sponsor must certify to the Committee Chair that the research is a continuation of a previous undertaking and that you will be able to complete the project during the summer. You may not receive a stipend or housing to initiate a new research program after you have graduated from the College.

In addition, incoming first-year Rabi Scholars are eligible for the research program in the summer prior to their matriculation as Columbia College students. You must indicate your intention to participate with the same deadlines that apply to other Rabi students if you wish to receive summer housing (detailed above).

Working Hours

The summer program is based on a full-time commitment to engage in research, defined as 10 weeks at 35 hours per week. It is therefore expected that you will not take classes during the summer in which you are engaging in research. Taking summer classes requires the permission of the Rabi Faculty Committee and approval from your faculty research supervisor, to ensure that the coursework will not interfere with your full-time research project.

You may not work part time elsewhere while engaged in research over the summer. If you are unable or unwilling to commit to a full summer period of full-time research, then you may opt to work either the first or second half of the summer, and you will be paid half the summer stipend. You may stay in the dorms supported by the program only for the half of the summer in which you are engaged in research. Under no circumstances will the Rabi program pay either the stipend or housing costs of students who are on campus but are not engaged in approved full-time research.

In the case of in-coming first-year scholars graduating from high school after the summer program has begun, the stipend will be prorated according to the number of weeks of research completed.

Reporting Research

By September 1st you must submit to the Rabi Faculty Chair an abstract summarizing the results of the research that you have conducted during the summer or the preceding academic year. Like the original proposal, the abstract should be placed in the context of some broader scientific issue, but focused on the specifics of the project and conclusions of the research, even if those are provisional or tentative.

Travel and Book Allowance

At the start of the summer you will receive $150. This money is for the purchase of research-related books and for travel to conferences for the purpose of presenting results obtained during the course of your research.

Academic Year Research

You may also receive a stipend for research conducted during the academic year. Approval is at the discretion of the Rabi Faculty Committee and will be given only to those students whose academic performance indicates an ability to carry out the demands of both coursework and research. You will not be allowed to continue stipend-supported research if the Committee deems your academic performance unsatisfactory. First-year Scholars are not normally permitted to conduct research with a Rabi stipend during the academic year, except under the rarest of circumstances.

The academic year stipend is $12 per hour. The Rabi Scholars Program and the faculty sponsor will each contribute half, up to a maximum total income of $1500 per semester. It is understood that if you are work-study eligible, you will exhaust your work-study allocation before requesting program funds. If the department in which you wish to work has no work-study positions available, you may apply to the Committee for allocation of Rabi Scholars work-study funds.

You may, of course, work in a laboratory or on a research project on a volunteer basis without financial support, or, if the department in question offers the option, choose to do a research project for academic credit. Under no circumstances may you receive both academic credit and stipend in the same semester for one research project.

Non-Research Activities

A Program Committee ñ made up of, and selected annually by, Rabi Scholars ñ is responsible for planning lectures, dinners, social events and other activities for the following summer and academic year. The Rabi Faculty Committee provides a budget and must approve the Program Committeeís proposed plan for non-research activities. The Rabi Scholars Office will provide assistance as required (e.g., arranging rooms, making reservations for dinners at Faculty House, etc.) and for managing the budget.

The Rabi Faculty Committee will consider extraordinary opportunities that arise during the year and may approve reasonable additional expenditures in consultation with the Rabi Scholars Office if funds are available.

Rabi Scholars Advising

Each year during Orientation week, representatives from the Rabi Faculty Committee will organize an orientation session for incoming Rabi Scholars. The Rabi Orientation provides an overview of the Program, including presentations from several current Rabi Scholars who provide the student perspective of life as a Rabi Scholar and also offer advice on academic planning. Incoming students have the opportunity to meet each other during orientation and to learn more about the Rabi Scholars Program.

When you need advising throughout the academic year, you can contact one of the Rabi Faculty Committee members from the relevant department: in your major department, in the department in which you currently or wish to conduct research, or in the department in which some particular course evokes a particular question or concern. Contact information for the Rabi Faculty Committee is available at:

Rabi Scholars' Queries

If you have queries about any administrative aspect of the Program ñ i.e. not an academic issue ñ you should contact the Rabi Scholars Office through Dr. Hazel May, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at 212-854-6372 or

Rabi Scholars Program Eligibility

Rabi Scholars who:

  1. decide after being at Columbia for some time not to major in science; or
  2. fail to participate in research for two consecutive summers, for whatever reason; or
  3. have a GPA in science and mathematics courses that falls below a 3.0

will be excluded from the program. The Rabi Scholars Office will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing these rules.

James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

Fax: (212) 854-2458

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Walk-in Hours (Sept-May)
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.