Students have many options for summer thesis funding
Juniors embarking on research for their senior theses this summer might find their travel expenses funded by the Office of the Dean of the College, by their departments or certificate programs, by outside sources or by a combination of the three. The process of securing funding depends in large part on the individual department’s timeline and guidelines for independent work, departmental representatives said.
Last year, ODOC funded $170,000 for seniors to conduct summer research for their independent work. This year’s numbers, though, may vary depending on the number of applications submitted and the amount of resources spent earlier this year to fund the Class of 2010’s thesis research.
For physics students, much of the research they conduct over the summer will not go specifically toward their senior independent work. Students spend their summers working with research groups, both outside and within the University, and the department generally only funds thesis research conducted during the academic year.
“You don’t get paid to do your thesis,” physics departmental representative Edward Groth GS ’71 said. “The research groups hire students, and in some cases, the student might build an apparatus that becomes part of their thesis.”
Physics students typically work on their theses during the summer rather than during the academic year. A successful proposal for summer thesis research funding, however, would have to “make the argument that the work being done is only for the student,” Groth said, noting that students might turn to other sources of funding.
In contrast, the history department grants funding jointly with ODOC, departmental representative Alec Dun GS ’04 said.
“We do it in league with the dean’s office,” he explained. “People can also apply to the Davis Center [for Historical Studies] for funding.” Concentrators submit a common application online to both the department and ODOC.
Dun estimated that roughly 10 percent of the department’s juniors applied for funding this summer, a higher percentage than usual. Nevertheless, Dun said that “small requests” will be met “almost every time.”
Students may also seek funding from such sources as the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Program in Latin American Studies, Dun said, adding that if these sources “grant funding, we move our money elsewhere.”
Students in the art and archaeology deparment apply for departmental and ODOC funding through “completely independent” processes, departmental representative Anne McCauley explained.
While those in the studio program create an exhibition rather than conduct thesis research, those juniors who do write theses are often not prepared to apply for ODOC thesis funding by the deadline.
“A lot of them don’t apply to the dean’s office, which has an extremely early deadline that doesn’t work for a lot of humanities students,” McCauley explained. “It’s hard to finish a JP and plan for a thesis at the same time.”
As a result, junior art and archaeology majors must turn to funding from the department, which McCauley noted has a competitive funding application with a “$1,000 cap this summer.” The department, however, does not receive many applications for summer senior research funding.
“Last year, there were very few applications for the summer as well,” McCauley said. “We did not give out very much in the summer … I’d say about 10 percent of people apply in the summer for funding and 90 percent apply during the year.”
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