Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

Who can participate in the Emerging Scholars Program?

Full-time students who are starting their first or second or third year at The University of Alabama are eligible for the Emerging Scholars Program.

To find out more about our admissions standards and the application process please visit Applying to ESP.

How many students are typically selected?

While the number varies, after each application period between 30 – 40 students are selected.

Why is this program important in my first year?

While the Emerging Scholars Program is open to incoming freshman – upcoming juniors, participating with this program as a Freshman provides you an opportunity to do what few first-year students have the chance to do. It prepares you for research and introduces you to a faculty member who will mentor or guide your early explorations. You will also have the opportunity to build relationships with other  students with similar interests in undergraduate research. It also helps you get to know your own interests more clearly.

Will there be projects available given my interests?

Yes. Opportunities for undergraduate research are available in any field of study offered by The University of Alabama. Almost all full-time UA faculty are active researchers. Their interests are broad. There are also research centers focused on topics as diverse as youth violence, green manufacturing, transportation, freshwater studies, education policy, communication and information research, Southern history, business and economic research, cyber crime and rural health.

Research opportunities are available in fields students typically identify with research such as science and engineering. They are also available in nursing, social work, communications, the arts, the social sciences, the humanities, business, education, and human environmental sciences.

No matter what your interests, there is a research project out there for you!

I’m planning to go on to graduate, law, or medical school after I get my degree. Will Emerging Scholars look good on my applications?

Yes, taking part in research as an undergraduate will make you a better candidate for post-graduate education.  However, the Emerging Scholars Program (and medical/graduate school committees) is looking for students who have a real interest in some field of research — a genuine curiosity about some question, problem, or phenomenon.

I don’t plan to go to graduate school, medical school, or law school. Should I still be in Emerging Scholars?

Absolutely!  Research plays an important role in almost every career field, and participating in research teaches you skills like critical thinking and problem solving, as well as how to work with a group to accomplish a goal.  These are all skills that will make you an excellent job candidate when you graduate.

Program Requirements and Process

How do I register for UA 155?

Enrollment period will probably begin before you know whether you will be accepted into the Emerging Scholars Program. You will not be able to register for UA 155 until you have been accepted and “tagged” as an Emerging Scholars Program student.

However, the dates and times listed for UA 155 will be available in schedule builder and in the course selection of mybama. Look at that time and please leave space in your schedule. If you have questions about the class please email

Once you have been accepted into the program, you will receive instructions on how to add UA 155 to your existing schedule.  As long as you have left space for the class’s scheduled meeting time it will be very quick and easy to do!




If I am selected, what happens next?

Once you are notified by e-mail* of your selection, please save that e-mail for your records.  The e-mail will tell you how to register for UA 155. If you are interested in this program, please leave space in your schedule for UA 155.

Before you Start: Read the ESP e-mails you receive*

*Please check your spam folder often to ensure you are receiving e-mails from  E-mails are only sent to Crimson accounts.

How will I be paired with my faculty mentor for research?

During your time in UA 155 you will interview faculty members, attend events to learn about their research, and have a chain of guess speakers to help you know about research faculty members are doing. You will have help identifying and contacting faculty mentors who share your research interests. However, ultimately, you will be responsible for connecting with and determining your faculty mentor.

How much time will I spend doing research?

The time commitment varies during different stages of projects, but the rule of thumb is 3 hours of work per week for every hour of course credit earned.  We recommend starting at 2 hours of credit (through UA 156 or a Departmental course), which will equal about six hours per week of research work.

If your mentor expects that you spend more time than this, he or she will make that clear prior to the start of your research semester.

What are the requirements after our research is finished?

Students are required to present research at a university-wide Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference. Emerging Scholars have opportunities to learn more about poster and oral presentations before the conference date.

What happens after I complete the Emerging Scholars Program?

Once you have satisfied all of the Emerging Scholars Program requirements, we strongly encourage you to continue your research until graduation.  Through a commitment to your faculty mentor and your research, you will demonstrate to post-graduate schools and employers that you are an excellent addition to their team.

We encourage you to stay connected to the Emerging Scholars Program network of alumni and current Scholars.  All Scholars are included in the EMSP listserv, where news and information is shared with the entire Program.  You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@UA_EMSP).

Qualifications and Application Process

What qualifications do I need to become a member of the Emerging Scholars Program?

Students to be considered for the Emerging Scholars Program should be first, second or third-year students who have been regularly admitted. They must possess an interest in research, as well as an interest in working with a group of other students with similar interests. Students should understand that Emerging Scholars is a two-semester commitment.

What skills do I need before becoming an Emerging Scholar?

No research skills are needed to become an Emerging Scholar!  A successful Emerging Scholar possesses a naturally inquisitive mind, careful attention to detail, and a commitment to personal excellence.  You will learn how to conduct research “on the job” under the guidance of your faculty mentor.

I’m not majoring in a science or engineering field. Can I still participate in Emerging Scholars?

Absolutely! Students in a wide variety of non-science disciplines — including literature, history, advertising, public relations, human development, economics, and nutrition — have completed research through the ESP. Almost all full-time faculty at The University of Alabama do research, and that means there are potential Emerging Scholars mentors in every department. Furthermore, an important research question can be examined from the perspective of several different disciplines, including some you might not at first associate with the topic. Healthcare, for example, has been studied by UA faculty members in anthropology, philosophy, management, psychology, and nutrition, among others.

What if I don’t know my major yet?

Many students are still deciding on a major during their first years in college.  Emerging Scholars Program gives you the unique opportunity to explore a major you may be considering “behind the scenes.”  Research plays an important role in nearly every major on campus, and being engaged in research lets you see what you like – and possibly what you don’t – before you decide.  The more important consideration is what topics interest you and what would you like to learn more about?

How do I become an Emerging Scholar?

Read about our Application Process and then apply through this website on or before the posted deadline. Our committee will review all applicants and students admitted into the program will be notified by Crimson e-mail within the month following the deadline.

What is the application deadline?

Check back for more information.


Is Emerging Scholars participation competitive, or am I guaranteed a spot if I apply?

The Emerging Scholars Program is competitive. The number of accepted Scholars fluctuates from year to year. On average each cohort takes between 30 – 40 students. While grades and test scores are an important part of our decision, more importantly we are looking for students who display a strong interest in undergraduate research and a dedication to excellence.

Please also keep in mind that Emerging Scholars is not the only way that UA students become involved in research. If you are looking for other ways to get involved, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website.

Who can be my references for my ESP application?

We recommend that your reference(s) be someone who can speak to your academic and intellectual abilities, work ethic, and commitment to excellence.  Some possible references may be high school teachers, community organization supervisors, youth group directors, coaches, or another professional who has worked closely with you.  References who have known you for a long time and have had an opportunity to work closely with you in an organization or school activity are generally the best choice to include.

UA Sophomores and Juniors should provide references related to their college-level activities, such as professors, graduate TAs, organizational leaders, or professional mentors.  Recommendations from high school references will be accepted but may not improve the applicant’s chance of admission.

You can provide the contact information for up to three references, but you are only required to include one reference in your application.  The quality of your reference evaluation is more important than the quantity of the references you include in your application.  A single high-quality reference evaluation will make more of an impact on the committee’s decision than three lackluster reference evaluations.

Out of professional courtesy and to ensure you receive a good evaluation, you should speak to each of your references about your plan to apply to ESP before you start the application process and ask for their permission to include them in your application.

Other Research Opportunities

If I do not do the Emerging Scholars Program, will there be other undergraduate research opportunities?

Yes. Students often approach faculty members and volunteer to work in their labs, or participate in independent study in areas of interest during their junior and senior years. The Emerging Scholars Program just makes it easier to get involved and gives you the opportunity to do so earlier in your career.

For more information on getting involved in undergraduate research, please visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website.

How do I find other research opportunities?

Start by trying to define your research interests, even if it’s in a very general way. Discuss those research interests with your academic advisor, review descriptions of faculty research interests on departmental websites, and find faculty members whose work lines up with your interests. We also recommend that you talk about possible research opportunities with faculty who are teaching the classes that you find most engaging. It is rare to find a faculty member unwilling to talk about his or her research with interested undergraduates. Another way to find a mentor is to check the Faculty Research Database or contact