Engaged Learning Starter Award

Engaged Learning Starter Award



The Engaged Learning Starter Award is a pilot program intended for first-generation and/or historically underrepresented students at SMU. It provides first-year students up to $500 to reimburse expenses related to research project. While based on the capstone Engaged Learning Fellowship, the ELSA is res designed to introduce students to research through a smaller-scale, exploratory project.


What is research?


Research is the observation, discovery, or creation of previously unknown ideas. This can take many forms – from studying the market for a product, to creating a new piece of music. The main thing to remember is you need to have clear methods and documentation of your work (see guidelines).


What is the funding for?


You may request up to $500 for expenses related to the research. Note that this is not a stipend – you will need to show receipts of what you purchased to be reimbursed. Some examples of expenses:

  • Travel and hotel
  • Bus or Uber transportation to project location
  • Lab materials or equipment
  • Printing flyers or a research poster

In some cases, we may be able to make advance purchases (e.g. plane tickets) on your behalf so you are not paying out of pocket.


What are the expectations for me?


● Public presentation (Fall Symposium – October, TBD)

● Submission of a “final product” (e.g. research paper, website, video)


How do I apply?

  1. Find a faculty mentor to sponsor this research. At minimum, they will give you feedback on your initial proposal and your final product. Ideally, they will be available for some consultation and feedback along the way. One place to find a mentor is Mustang Mentors.
  2. Create a proposal. We have a clear template that you can use. It is a scaled-back version of the Engaged Learning Fellowship proposal. Clearly describe the Who-What-When-Where-How.
  3. Email your proposal to engagedlearning@smu.edu


Some things to know:


It will take 2-3 weeks to review your proposal, so please be patient! We will only be reviewing applications during [Time TBD].


For any projects involving human subjects (e.g. surveys, psychology experiments, etc.), you and your mentor may need to register and complete some training with Research Compliance. If accepted, we will send your proposal to their office on your behalf.


Example projects coming soon!