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Smith Scholars Program

The Smith Scholars Program allows highly motivated and well-organized students to spend one or two years working on projects of their own devising, free (in varying degrees) from normal college requirements. A Smith Scholars Program may be equivalent to a major or minor; a student applies to be a Smith Scholar in addition to, not instead of, a departmental major.

As a Smith Scholar, you will devise a program that includes a mix of Smith Scholars courses, which are essentially special studies designed with the help of your adviser combined with departmental courses. Smith Scholars courses are denominated as SMS on the transcript.

The balance of departmental and SMS courses will be decided jointly by you, your adviser and the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs (SHIP). Normally, the largest proportion of the SMS credit load will take place in your senior year.

A Smith Scholar is listed in the program at graduation after the honors students. Your Smith Scholar's record consists of your faculty evaluation and a listing of all the courses on your application.


If you have more than one adviser, one faculty member should be designated as the director. The director is responsible for coordinating your advising and submitting interim evaluations and final grades.


You may apply any time after the first semester of your sophomore year but before your senior year. The subcommittee may require an interview for you to clarify your plans.

Smith Scholars must satisfy the residence requirement. They are eligible for Latin honors but not departmental honors.

How to Apply

To apply to become a Smith Scholar, you must provide the following three items:

1. Application

Complete the application and obtain all necessary signatures.

(Word document)

2. A Proposal

  • In 1,000 words or less, explain your project to SHIP. Your proposal must include:
  • The name of your project.
  • A description of your methodology. How do you intend to approach your subject?
  • If you intend to create a final unifying project, what will that be?
  • An explanation for why this project cannot be accomplished through any combination of departmental courses, special studies, a student-designed major or minor or an honors thesis in the departmental honors program.
  • Your background for undertaking the project. What experiences, either from Smith courses or elsewhere, have prepared you for it?
  • A schedule for your program of study using the Academic Plan. This lists all the courses you will take by semester and year for all four years. Include the three-letter department codes, course numbers and titles (for example, MTH 111, Calculus 1). All the Smith Scholars credit should be titled SMS (you do not need a number) and include a title and instructor.
    (Word document)
  • The names of faculty who will evaluate the work, on what basis, and how frequently. If you have more than one adviser, indicate which faculty member will serve as director.

3. Evaluation by Faculty Advisers

Each faculty member involved with the project should evaluate both the proposal and the student's capacity to complete it. The subcommittee will want to know that you have the necessary background and discipline to pursue a long-term project that includes a great deal of independent work.

4. Two Faculty Recommendations

These letters should be written by faculty not involved in the project who have taught you in one or more classes. They should address your preparation for your project, an evaluation of the project itself and an assessment of your ability to complete an independent project that may stretch over several semesters.


Send the application and letters of support to the dean of the senior class, who serves as chair of SHIP, by October 15 for spring admission and March 15 for students beginning their projects the following fall.

Keep a copy of your application!

Progress & Credit

Your adviser will submit a progress report each semester, in addition to submitting a grade in Banner.

If your adviser is concerned about your progress, the committee may withdraw you from the Smith Scholars Program. At that point, the subcommittee will evaluate the amount of credit to be awarded for the work completed in your SMS courses. Be advised that if you are withdrawn from the Smith Scholars Program, you may be short of credit to graduate. You may need to earn credit elsewhere to make up a shortage (see Credit Shortages).

Changes to Program

Any major changes to your program outlined in your proposal must be reported in writing to SHIP through the senior class dean and approved by the subcommittee.