ACM Graduate School Exploration Fellowship (GSEF)

Luther College is proud to participate in the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship Program (GSEF), one of three main components of the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program to Diversify the Professoriate recently funded by an $8.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Associated Colleges of Midwest (ACM) and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).  

This opportunity provides support, research experience, and mentoring for students from traditionally underrepresented groups who are interested in careers in college or university teaching in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and the arts.

The Program

Luther College will select up to 5 students each year for the GSEF program. These students will receive:

1. On-campus mentoring opportunities from Luther College faculty and staff.

2. Participation in two Annual Summits in Chicago in each summer of the program.

3. A paid summer research opportunity following their junior year at one of the research universities that comprise the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).*

This program is intended to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue graduate study, research, and/or teaching careers in higher and post-secondary education.


All qualified sophomores from underrepresented groups (in the professoriate) are encouraged to apply for the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship.

This includes African Americans; Hispanics; Native Americans; Alaska Natives; Native Hawaiians; other Pacific Islanders; first-generation college students; individuals who have followed non-traditional pathways to college due to exceptional talent and motivation in the face of adversity, such as societal, economic or academic disadvantages; and individuals with a demonstrated commitment to applying and including diverse backgrounds and perspectives to learning, scholarship, service and leadership in the academy. Ideal candidates will have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application.

Additionally, students must meet the following criteria for eligibility:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Students who have applied for and received Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are also eligible. Students with DACA status must provide documentation that their DACA status is current and will not expire prior to the end of the GSEF program.
  • Have sophomore standing (or have completed at least three semesters of undergraduate education, or their equivalent in terms or blocks as determined by their home ACM institution). Students must be eligible for an additional two more years of study at Luther College.
  • Have a strong interest in pursuing terminal graduate work in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and/or the arts

Application Process

The campus deadline is April 15. Applications must be submitted as a pdf, via email, to the Dean's Office.

The application requires a statement of research interest and a personal statement (each no more than 250 words), and two letters of recommendation from Luther College faculty. 

Letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the Dean's Office by the recommender.

Application questions should be directed to:

Eizabeth Steding, Director of Student Honors and Fellowships
Main 404
[email protected]

Summer Research Opportunity on CIC Campus

In addition to the mentoring from Luther College faculty, students participating in the GSEF Program will be expected to complete 8-10 weeks of full-time (~40 hours per week) research on a CIC campus during the summer following their junior year.

The objective and goal of the summer research opportunity is to provide the GSE Fellow with a better understanding of what it might be like to become a graduate student pursuing a terminal degree in their field, and to cultivate passion and enthusiasm for continuing their studies in the discipline.

Please note that most of the CIC institutions have a summer research opportunity program already in place. If placed on one of these campuses, GSE Fellows will be expected to participate fully in the research directed activities and supplemental coursework (which typically includes: learning to write strong personal statements and abstracts, practicing giving talks, GRE preparation, etc.), and they are strongly encouraged to also attend social activities and other programs for their cohort.

Placement at a CIC institution

As part of the application process, students should spend some time reviewing the faculty websites and departmental sites at the CIC institutions, and students are encouraged to suggest preferences for specific campuses, departments, and/or faculty members that they feel could provide a good fit for their academic and career interests.

Once chosen by Luther College, the Graduate School Exploration Fellows will submit their materials to the ACM Coordinator and Campus Liaison for the Undergraduate Fellows Program (by no later than June 15th), so that their information can be shared with the CIC staff and project coordinators who will match students with faculty mentors based on their academic and research interests.

Students will hear back from CIC campuses with their offers between January 1 - March 1 during their junior year. Students will have until March 15 to accept one of the summer research offers. Once they accept an offer, they cannot accept any other offers. Acceptance decisions are final.

Fellow Expectations and Benefits

GSE Fellows are expected to take part in two Annual Summits in Chicago. Between their sophomore and junior year, GSE Fellows will engage in workshops, panels, and presentations that will help begin to prepare for their summer research experience the following summer.

GSE Fellows will receive a $3,500 stipend (funded through the grant) during their 8-10 week summer research experience at a CIC institution between their junior and senior year.

Additionally, the programs cover housing and travel as an added benefit, and many (but not all) of the CIC institutions offer either a partial or full meal plan. Once the GSE Fellow completes their summer research experience, presents at the Annual Summit in Chicago (August), and meets the expectations of the program as determined by their home campus, they will become eligible for graduate school visit assistance funds during their senior year (up to $1,000 per Fellow) and assistance for scholarly-related activities (up to $250 per Fellow) through the grant.

* CIC Institutions 

University of Chicago, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, and University of Wisconsin – Madison.