EXCEL Scholars Program

As an EXCEL Scholar, you can get involved with research projects such as measuring the effect of steroid hormones on male zebra finches, analyzing economic growth factors, developing a solar device to disinfect water supplies, co-directing a dramatic performance, or comparing marital status and measures of personal health to learn if marriage impacts health.

These enhanced learning opportunities are provided through the EXCEL Scholars program, part of Lafayette’s commitment to student-centered learning. EXCEL Scholars work collaboratively with faculty on research projects that expand the boundaries of knowledge.

Read articles about EXCEL Scholars projects

You become a part of the program through nomination by a faculty member. As an EXCEL Scholar, you will be an integral part of the research process; the nature of the work is not clerical, nor is it primarily focused on routine chores.

You are challenged to make a significant contribution and are involved in all aspects of the research, from reading and analyzing articles to designing experiments, testing hypotheses, interpreting data, and writing articles about the results for publication.


EXCEL Scholars earn $8 to $10 an hour. They may work full time during the summer (10 weeks) and interim session (3 weeks in January). They may also work part time (8-10 hours per week) during the academic year.

During the summer and interim session, EXCEL Scholars are also provided free college housing in the residence halls.

Besides the stimulating academic challenge that the program provides, EXCEL Scholars have the opportunity to apply techniques and knowledge that they learn in class to specific problems. This kind of hands-on experience is an asset for students applying to graduate schools or seeking professional employment.

Your participation may lead to a coauthored article published in a scholarly journal, a patent for equipment or a technique that you develop, or the creation of works of art. You may also present your findings at one or more professional conferences such as the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which is held at a different college or university each year. Lafayette College has one of the largest contingents of student presenters at NCUR.

How to Get Involved

The program is open to sophomore, junior, and senior full-time Lafayette students in all disciplines who have at least a 3.25 GPA. Research opportunities are available in engineering, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

To nominate an EXCEL Scholar, a faculty member submits a proposal to the Academic Research Committee. Faculty who have grants that support student research assistants may apply to have their students join the EXCEL Scholars program.

The program is central to Lafayette’s dedication to providing unique academic opportunities and promoting the personal mentoring of students by faculty. It began in 1986 with 14 students. The program now has an annual budget of over $500,000 with more than 160 students participating each year. The success has made the program a model for other colleges and universities. Support for EXCEL comes not only from outside faculty research grants, but also from endowments, private foundation grants, and College funds.

Key Features

  • Work closely with faculty
  • Engage in significant research
  • Develop professional skills
  • Enhance learning opportunities
  • Experience intellectual challenges

Deadlines for Proposal

  • Interim Session — Early November
  • Summer — Early March
  • Academic Year — Reviewed each month