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Students receive a UScholars designation on their transcript only after completing all of the following:

  1. Attend the Launch Reception at the beginning of each academic year
  2. Conduct independent research under the guidance of a Penn faculty member for the duration of the student's UScholars tenure, with the most in-depth work during the junior and senior years (see "Note on Faculty Mentors" below); since UScholars is considered a co-curricular commitment, an academic activity that augments a student’s intellectual trajectory, but does not yield credit or fulfill a requirement as a curricular (or course for credit) commitment would, this research cannot also serve as a student’s independent study for credit or senior thesis project for credit
  3. Present at least once at CURF’s Fall Research Expo OR at CURF’s Spring Poster Symposium ANDat a Friday Lunch Talk during the student’s UScholars tenure
  4. Submit one report by May 1 of each year of the student’s UScholars tenure, detailing that year’s research progress (beginning sophomore year, this form must be signed by a Faculty Mentor); in the sophomore year, this report must include a research proposal
  5. After receiving any summer funding, submit one report by the Sept. 1 following the funded summer, detailing that summer’s research experience, and present at CURF’s Fall Research Expo (in addition to existing presentation requirement)
  6. After receiving any conference or academic-year funding, present subsequently at either CURF’s Fall Research Expo or CURF’s Spring Poster Symposium
  7. Participate in a Peer Mentor Group (PMG) for the duration of the student’s UScholars tenure
  8. Remain in good academic and student conduct standing according to University regulations

Note on Faculty Mentors

Students can conduct independent research under the guidance of a Penn faculty member, which can include the following: 

  • Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor: faculty with these titles are members with tenure or tenure-probationary status with either fixed or indefinite terms of service at the University.
  • Senior lecturer: faculty with this title have primarily teaching responsibilities with longer-term contracts.

Faculty mentors with these titles are ideal as they will have the highest likelihood of providing continued mentorship to undergraduates as they pursue their independent research.

Other affiliated faculty or faculty at institutions other than Penn may be considered but will need to be evaluated by the UScholars program for appropriateness based on the contents of their supporting letter. Individuals on short-term appointments, such as visiting faculty, are not appropriate.

While we understand that many STEM (especially biomedical) laboratories are large and consist of a hierarchy of nested mentorship structures, postdoctoral fellows or senior-level graduate students are not considered appropriate as exclusive or primary mentors, though they are welcome to act as informal or day-to-day mentors. When seeking letters or support or primary mentors, students should seek the mentorship of the lab PI for their independent research.


UScholars are expected to participate fully in the program, including Friday Lunch Talks and other events scheduled programming throughout the academic year (unless there is a conflict with a class).  

They are also expected to identify themselves as part of the University Scholars programs when communicating publicly – for example, at a conference or in an interview with a campus publication or news outlet. Students presenting their UScholars work at a conference presentation with the support of UScholars funds must add the UScholars logo to their poster or PowerPoint presentation.