Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of projects are eligible?
Just about anything, as long as it is original, grounded in an academic discipline and teaches both you and the world something new. The URSA committee is in its sixth year and has supported a diverse range of student work. Here are some topics from previous winners: the mating habits of oyster toadfish, a series of paintings of the human body, a study of depictions of Hester Prynne in film, and an investigation of the development of barbershop quartets.

When in my University career should I apply for this?
All full-time or College of Continuing Studies (CCS) students in good academic standing interested in pursuing research or creative activities in an independent project supervised by a faculty mentor are eligible. Successful recipients must have completed at least one year of university study and remain enrolled at Rider until completion of the project. Students will generally only be supported for one year by this award; although it is thought that it will best serve rising seniors, rising juniors and sophomores with exceptional projects and at least 24 credits at Rider are also encouraged to apply.

I'm in CCS and am not exactly a full-time student; what is my standing and am I permitted to participate?
The full-time status requirement may be waived if the applicant is enrolled in CCS at the time of the application. CCS students must be enrolled and matriculated in CCS at the time of application. You must have completed at least 12 Rider credits by the time the project is begun. Your faculty sponsor must verify your eligibility with the appropriate Dean’s Office.

Who should I get to act as my mentor / advisor?
Find a faculty member who is familiar with you and your work; if the project you have in mind is multidisciplinary, you may wish to ask multiple faculty to advise you simultaneously. As long as the faculty member is not already sponsoring another URSA application, they are free to advise you, if they wish. URSA committee members are allowed to sponsor students. However, if an URSA committee member sponsors a student during their term, they will be recused from deciding the winners due to a conflict of interest.

Can I get academic credit for doing this?
Generally, students receiving the awards enroll in XXX-490 courses each semester within their departments. These classes carry 3 credits and appear as "Independent Study" on your transcript. You may enroll in them for both semesters.

Do I have to wait for September to get started?
By no means; in fact, you are encouraged to start as soon as you can. Summer is a spectacular time to get a lot of independent work done; you are free from class obligations and can immerse yourself in your studies; opportunities might crop up in the summer for you to intensively explore your project. You may also be able to perform work in a laboratory, conduct literature searches at the library, or travel for interviews during that time.

I'm interested in putting together a dance or vocal performance, rather than engaging in an academic research activity; can I apply?
Absolutely. As long as your project is original and fits into a demonstrable academic and historical context, we're eager to see your ideas. It may be valuable to you to produce some kind of written documentation about the creative process you undergo in assembling your work, so include that in your proposal.

What else am I obliged to do if I receive the award?
We expect that you will appear with your advisor at the Independent Scholarship and Creative Activities Presentations (ISCAP) Day to present the proposal for the work you intend to carry out. Your advisor is expected to introduce you at ISCAP Day.  An interim report detailing work done on the project during the fall semester must be submitted to the URSA Chair by the last day of finals. Additionally, at ISCAP Day the following year, you will be asked to present the completed product. The project should be completed in full by the last day of finals for spring semester and submitted to the URSA Chair. You may also be asked to make yourself available for programs such as Open House or Family Day.

Are transfer students eligible?
Yes! Applicants must have completed at least 24 Rider credits, by the time the project is begun (awards start July 1).

Is your question not answered here?
Contact Dr. Brooke Hunter (bhunter@rider.edu) with any other concerns you might have.