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 researching the history of New York City for a professor's next best-selling book.

These are the type of “deep dive” intellectual opportunities provided through the EXCEL Scholars program that fuel our students’ curiosity and passion for topics that interest them. Scholars work closely and collaboratively with faculty on significant research projects that hone critical-thinking and communication skills.

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 $9 to $11 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 3.00 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.

Lafayette College offers a variety of resources that support faculty and student research.

For information about College-funded programs for research by or with students, funding opportunities administered through the Academic Research Committee, and information from our Office of Sponsored Research, visit the Research Support site.