College Park Scholars

College Park Scholars is a program for academically talented freshmen and sophomores at the University of Maryland, College Park. Freshmen are invited to participate can choose to matriculate into one of 11 interdisciplinary programs. Each program accepts about 75 students at the beginning of the Fall Semester. The 11 programs are all housed in the Cambridge Community, giving all Scholars a chance to live with the students in their program in one of 5 dorms on the north side of campus. Each Scholars program is directed by a faculty member, each an expert in their field at the University of Maryland.

History [1]

  • 1994 – The first class of Scholars begins, with 450 students in one of four programs: Scholars to the Arts, International Studies, Life Sciences, and the International Studies program.
  • 1995 – Three new scholars programs are inaugurated: Advocates for Children, Environmental Studies, and Public Leadership. Centreville Hall becomes a dorm in the Scholars community. The Scholars Ambassadors Team is started, allowing Scholars to participate in leadership activities as well as recruitment for the program.
  • 1996 – The first Scholars Service Day takes place. This event has been repeated annually since this date. The Lakeland STARS, a program started to provide tutoring for students from Paint Branch Elementary School, is started by the Advocates for Children Program of Scholars.
  • 1997 – Science, Discovery and the Universe is launched ad becomes a part of Scholars.
  • 1998 – The first Charity Softball Tournament takes place and becomes a tradition in the Scholars community.
  • 1999 – The Cambridge Community Center is opened.
  • 2000 – The first annual Arts Fair takes place, sponsored by the Arts Program.
  • 2003 – The Scholars Student Advisory Board is created.
  • 2004 – The first “Scholars in New York” trip takes place.
  • 2005 – The Scholars Alumni Association is created.
  • 2009 – Earth, Life, and Time changes its name and curriculum, becoming the Science and Global Change program. Environmental Studies likewise becomes Environment, Technology, and Economy.
  • 2010 – In October the 15th class of Scholars were awarded their citations for completing the Scholars program. The Advocates for Children program stopped accepting new members. Instead, the Global Public Health program was created. The Cultures of the Americas program issued its final citations before the program was concluded. [2]

Coursework and requirements

Students are not required to join a Scholars program that is aligned with their major, as the program provides an interdisciplinary education. Students earn their citation after completing both colloquium classes on the theme of their program and their practicum requirement. The practicum is designed to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in a real-world setting, either through an internship, community service project, or research opportunity. Students who successfully complete the Scholars Program earn a citation on their transcript.

Programs [3]

Arts [4]

The Arts Scholars program, created in 1994, attracts students interested in the performing and visual arts. Students are given the opportunity to attend workshops, and watch performances on and off campus as the program goes on eight field trips to local and regional theaters and museums throughout the year. Annual events, such as the Fall Coffee House and Spring Arts Fair (held on Maryland Day), give Arts Scholars the chance exhibit their talents to the public. The Arts Scholars program is jointly sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Arts and Humanities. Harold Burgess, the director of the Arts Scholars program and Senior Lecturer at the University of Maryland, is a specialist in theatrical and lighting design.

Business, Society, and the Economy [5]

The Business, Society, and the Economy (BSE) Scholars program, sponsored by the Robert H. Smith School of Business, was founded in 1998. In the past, Scholars have met with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and visited the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. In 2009, BSE students were invited to attend the 25th Anniversary Dinner for the US-ASEAN Business Council in Washington, D.C. The following year, thirty-four BSE students visited Singapore and Malaysia to develop an understanding of the region's economy. Dr. Mark Wellman is the director of the Business, Society, and the Economy program. In 2010, Dr. Wellman received the Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award.

Environment, Technology, and Economy [6]

The Environment, Technology, and Economy (ETE) program, created in 1995 (formerly named Environmental Sciences) is sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. ETE students attend experiential learning trips to natural, built, or cultural resources in the mid-Atlantic region. Some past trips include voyages to wind farms and the U.S. National Arboretum. Director Tim Knight hopes to continue the tradition of having wonderful excursions that complement the learning in the classroom.

Global Public Health [7]

The Global Public Health program, launched in Fall 2010, is sponsored by the School of Public Health. Students examine the basic issues associated with community public health, discuss challenges at the global health level, and work on developing solutions to these issues. Students are required to complete an internship, capstone practicum, or research project that connects their academic major to the concepts addressed in the GPH program. The GPH program is led by faculty director Dr. Donna Howard.

International Studies [8]

The International Studies program, launched in 1994, is made up of students with an interest in global issues, politics, and events. The program is sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Department of Government and Politics. Scholars attend experiential learning excursions which have in the past included visits to the South African Embassy, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the U.S. Department of State. Dr. James Glass is the director of the program and in 2004, Dr. Glass was the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty in the State of Maryland Award.

Life Sciences [9]

Life Sciences, founded in 1994, is a science-based program in College Park Scholars with colloquia and supporting classes related to biology, chemistry, animal science and horticulture. Life Sciences is one of the largest programs in College Park Scholars with an average of 180 freshmen and sophomore scholars. The program attempts to host annual alternating study abroad trips to Belize or Alaska/Australia during the summer depending on the year. Students also go on one field trip each semester. Dr. Beth Parent is the program director, as well as a senior lecturer in the Department of Biology. Before her, Dr. Reid Compton was director for nearly 10 years until she took over in 2018. Jimmy McClellan is the assistant director of the program. The Life Sciences program is sponsored by the College of Mathematical, Computer, and Natural Sciences.

Media, Self, and Society [10]

Sponsored by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, the Media, Self and Society program focuses on the media and the news, and its effect on society. The program was started in 1999 and Dr. Kalyani Chadha, who received her Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Maryland in 1999, is the current director. The UNWIND! Magazine, published and distributed three times a semester across campus, is run by the students of Media, Self, and Society.

Public Leadership [11]

The Public Leadership program, directed by Dr. David Crocker, Senior Research Scholar at the School of Public Policy, focuses on the study of government and policy-making. Students are required to take a colloquium, supporting classes, and are also exposed to various community-based learning and civic engagement projects. The Public Leadership program has been lucky to have the opportunity to donate $20,000 to a local cause or organization as part of their Art and Science of Philanthropy course. The Public Leadership program, which was established in 1995 under the sponsorship of the School of Public Policy, also offers a study abroad trip to Morocco.

Science and Global Change [12]

Science and Global Change is a science-oriented program based around the study of the physical sciences and global change. Directed by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz Jr., a dinosaur paleontologist and senior lecturer in Geology, and Dr. John Merck, a professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Geology Department, SGC students are required to take a colloquium, supporting classes, as well as participate in various field trips and other active learning experiences. The program changed its name from Earth, Life, and Time to Science and Global Change in 2009. SGC trips include study abroad opportunities to the Galapagos Islands and the Grand Canyon.

Science, Discovery, and the Universe [13]

Founded in 1997 and sponsored by the College of Mathematical, Computer, and Natural Sciences, the Science, Discovery, and the Universe program focuses on the exploration and study of the universe. Through the colloquium, students in the program are exposed to new techniques and new research in the field by Directors Dr. Alan Peel, professor in the Department of Astronomy. In the students’ sophomore year, a focus is put on the practicum, and students are encouraged to get involved with one of the research opportunities available on campus and in nearby Washington, D.C.

Science, Technology, and Society [14]

Science, Technology, and Society is one of the original Scholars programs established in 1994 with the sponsorship of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Dr. Betsy Mendelsohn is the director of the program. Implementation and active learning is a focus of the program, and students are required to complete an internship or participate in some sort of service learning. STS regularly participates in out-of-the-classroom learning experiences to federal agencies and local organizations like the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Military Advanced Training Center at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


Service Day [15]

On the annual Service Day in August, students from each of the Scholars programs join together to help out the surrounding community. Beginning their day at the XFINITY Center, faculty, staff, and student leaders greet the incoming Scholars class, and prepare for a full day of service. Service Day gives students the opportunity to get to know fellow Scholars and start building relationships with faculty members. Through teamwork and cooperation, Scholars not only become acquainted with the program, but also come away from the day knowing that they helped to make a difference in their community.

“Step Up to Bat for Kids” Charity Softball Tournament [16]

Every spring, the Scholars programs come together and engage in some healthy competition, all for a good cause. This all-day tournament fields teams from each program on the campus engineering fields. Since the first teams took the field in 1998, the “Step Up to Bat for Kids” Charity Softball Tournament has raised more than $16,000 for charities across the world that deal with the health and welfare of children and families. The success of the event relies completely on the dedication and support from students and staff. While scholars are responsible for raising all of the money, faculty and staff plan far in advance in order to provide students with a memorable and rewarding experience. The Public Leadership team has won the past two years.


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