Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a list of frequently asked questions from across Student Affairs collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.

Scholars Program, CUSP FAQ

Are there any networking opportunities with Columbia Alumni and Alumni of the Scholars Program?

We are constantly seeking out alumni connections for our current Scholars. Through intimate, small-scale dinners, we unite students and alumni interested in a variety of fields - business, medicine, and even fine cuisine. We are also expanding our alumni database to promote more alumni internship opportunities for CUSP.

Are there special opportunities for Scholars?

Yes! As a Scholar, you participate in an academic enhancement program featuring speakers, cultural events, meals with faculty and alumni, and year-long and summer internship and research assistantship programs. We are always looking for new opportunities to enrich your experience here at Columbia.

Can I defer a year, take a year off, or study abroad, and still be a Scholar?

Yes! You will still be a Scholar, and a welcome participant in our community, even if you take some time off from Columbia.

Can I make suggestions for guest speakers?

We welcome suggestions for future speakers - in fact, some of our most exciting and thought-provoking programs have come about as the result of a Scholar's request for a certain speaker (Ernest Drucker, Diane Ravitch, Philip Gourevitch, Samantha Power, and George Bizos, to name just a few).

Can I use the CUSP Office as an additional academic and general advising office?

Of course. In addition to the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program, the CUSP Office was responsible for prestigious national fellowship advising for several years. As you consider graduate school options, we can assist you with your fellowship search and application process. In addition, we are here to advise you on academic matters, as well as any other questions or concerns you may have.

How does one become a Scholar?

Scholars are selected by the Office of Admissions during the application process, based on their academic and extracurricular achievements during high school. All applicants are considered for participation in the Scholars Program; there are no special application forms required.

Is there a financial package involved in being a Scholar?

While participating in the Program may help you with your financial aid needs, all Scholars' aid packages are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your financial aid officer can assist you with questions regarding educational financing.

What is required of me as a Scholar?

Throughout your four years at Columbia, we expect you to take full advantage of the resources and programming our office presents. As a first-year, we expect you to attend three of the five large lecture events, as well as the Columbia Journey Seminar series (if you are a first-year Scholar). Most Scholars attend our events regularly throughout their Columbia careers for the intellectual stimulation, social engagement, relaxed atmosphere, and the unique opportunity to interface with remarkable leaders.

Why are certain meetings and events mandatory?

We want to help you make the most of your time here, and we expect you to make the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program a priority. Certain events are mandatory for first-year Scholars to enable you to experience the breadth of activities and events our office presents, and to develop new friendships with fellow Scholars, professionals, and the CUSP administration.

Will participating in the Scholars Program help me get a job? An internship? Summer employment? Accepted into graduate of professional schools?

Participating in the Scholars Program will broaden your horizons and challenge you to view the world in a new light. We offer ideas and issues you may not encounter in the classroom, and this element of your education - the exploration of current issues through an academic and intellectual lens - will serve you well in whatever field, discipline, or occupation you pursue. While participation in CUSP is a great honor (of which you should be proud), it is the intrinsic gains you reap from participating in it, which will be the most beneficial to you.  You should take full advantage not only of the CUSP Speaker & Dinner Series, and the opportunity to be advised and mentored by the CUSP administration, but also of the tailor-made internships and research assistantships that the Office creates and implements especially for its Scholars.

CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowships, Scholars Program

Can I apply as a senior?

No.  Currently this fellowship is only for Scholars in their first, sophomore, and junior summers.

Can I apply for this as a team project with other people?

No. Currently, each Scholar has to submit a separate application.  However, we encourage Scholars to work collaboratively where applicable.

Can I apply to this fellowship if I have not secured an internship/research position by the deadline?

Scholars without secured internships may apply for the internship/research position but will not be considered until the position is official.  Please speak with a CUSP Advisor if this applies to you.

Can I get credit on my transcript for my summer internship?

Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Columbia School of General Studies, do not provide credit for internships. There is no doubt that internships are valuable experiences for students seeking an introduction to a range of careers and professional cultures. However, we expect companies to appropriately compensate students for work performed during internships. This policy is one adopted by many of our peer institutions and also is in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and NY State’s Minimum Wage Act and Wage Orders. CCE has posted some helpful information regarding unpaid internships at:
http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/employers/policies#Unpaid.

We will continue to support student participation in internships and will be happy to provide letters acknowledging this support if such letters are requested by employers. To receive a letter of support, please see your advising dean.

Can I indicate more than one internship/research position on the fellowship application?

Yes. Please prepare a complete application packet per internship/research position with the exception of the letters of recommendation.  Please submit only one set of recommendations.  For further information, please see a CUSP Advisor.

Can I use this money anywhere in the world?

Yes.  This fellowship can be applied anywhere in the world.

Can my CUSP Advisor write a letter of recommendation for me?

CUSP Advisors cannot write letters for the CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowship. However, they are happy to write for any other fellowship or internship.

Do we have to research with a Columbia faculty member?

No.  While we encourage Scholars to seek and develop relationships with Columbia faculty, we support research endeavors with faculty from other universities as well.  If you have chosen a research advisor who is not a professor at an accredited institution, please see a CUSP Advisor before submitting your application.

Does this cover summer school?

This fellowship does not cover traditional summer school (i.e. courses to meet CORE/major/graduation requirements); however, some summer programs will be considered if they contain a strong research, fieldwork, or experiential education component.  Please see a CUSP Advisor prior to submitting your application if your project falls in this category.

How do my recommenders submit my reference letters?

Recommenders can submit reference letters directly to the CUSP Office via regular US Mail (please DO NOT use Campus Mail), email to Sophia Sattar (ss4413@columbia.edu), or hand delivery to the CUSP Office.

I am a SEAS student. Do I have to apply to the CUSP-ACEC program?

No.  SEAS Scholars are welcome to apply for the internship and/or research grant.

I am applying the CUSP-ACEC Program and I have chosen my top five firms. Do I have to explain why I want to work with each firm?

Yes. For each firm you are interested in, please explain you want to work for the firm, what you intend to learn from this experience and how it aligns with your academic and career interests. This should serve as the answer to the first question on the application form.

I am not a SEAS student. Can I apply to the CUSP-ACEC program?

No.  According to CUSP’s partnership agreement with ACEC, all Scholars in the CUSP-ACEC Program will be enrolled as engineering students and will have begun training in said discipline.

If I apply for the fellowship this year, will it hurt my chances of winning next year?

No.  Scholars can apply annually for this fellowship until their year of graduation.

If I get a paid internship abroad, does this cover my airfare?

The fellowship will cover airfare and other transportation expenses only if these items are listed on the Budget Request Form.

If I secure a paid internship (low paying), can I apply to supplement my living expenses?

Yes.  Please be sure to include all sources of funding that you have secured for this internship.

Is there a limit to the amount granted?

The average grant awarded varies from year to year.  Funding is limited due to resources but CUSP will try its best to support each awardee. 

Who chooses the fellowship winners?

The CUSP Fellows Selection Committee is comprised of the CUSP Administration, Graduate Student Mentors, and members of the CUSP Board of Advisors.

Will there be interviews?

In some cases, finalists will be asked to interview with the committee. Scholars who applied to the CUSP-ACEC Program should be prepared to interview with both the Selection Committee and 1-2 engineering firms.