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Project L/EARN » FAQs
Am I eligible?
Is Project L/EARN for me?
How does the application process work?
What does the summer training program involve?
Who are the Project L/EARN mentors and what do they do?
What are the program benefits?
What is Project L/EARNís graduate school and career track record?

Am I eligible for Project L/EARN?

1. I donít attend Rutgers University. Am I eligible for Project L/EARN?

Students from any U.S. college or university who meet the other eligibility criteria are eligible to apply.

2. I am a college senior. Am I eligible?

No. To be eligible for Project L/EARN, you must have at least one full year of undergraduate coursework remaining at the beginning of the summer in which you would undertake the program.

3. I already graduated from college and am looking for research opportunities or training. Am I eligible for Project L/EARN?

See preceding answer.

4. I already earned a bachelorís (college) degree and am now working toward a second bachelorís degree in nursing (BSN). Am I eligible?

If you will have at least one year of requirements for your BSN remaining after the summer you plan to undertake Project L/EARN, and meet the other eligibility criteria, you would be eligible.

5. I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but I attend a college or university in the United States. Am I eligible for Project L/EARN?

No. Project L/EARN accepts only students who are U.S. citizens, U.S. Nationals, or permanent U.S. residents.

6. I have to take another college course this summer. Can I do that and still participate in Project L/EARN?

No, Project L/EARN is a full-time commitment that carries three (3) academic credits. You may not enroll in any other courses during the summer training program. The Project L/EARN course credits can often be used to meet research methods or advanced elective requirements toward many majors or graduation, either at Rutgers or transferred to another university.

7. I need to work this summer to earn money. Can I have a part-time job while undertaking Project L/EARN?

No. L/EARN is a full-time commitment. The program pays all expenses (tuition, room, board, fees) for the summer program as well as a stipend which is intended to make it affordable to any interested student, and to help provide funds toward internsí academic year expenses. Click here to see the current stipend amount.

8. My spring semester/quarter ends in early June. Can I start the program a week (or two) late?

No. Project L/EARN is very-fast paced and builds on the early material throughout the summer program. Students must be present from the beginning of the program.

9. I have to take a course starting in late July/ early August. Can I do just the early part of Project L/EARN?

No. Students must be able to attend the entire 10-week summer training program.

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Is Project L/EARN for me?

10. I want to work in a research lab for the summer. Is that what Project L/EARN interns do?

Project L/EARN interns are involved in health-related research during the summer, but it does not involve ďbench scienceĒ in a biology or chemistry laboratory, or work in a psychology laboratory conducting experiments. Interns learn to use statistical software to analyze and write about data on health topics; see summer program activities.

11. I want to see how health care works by spending the summer in a clinical setting. Will I get to do that in Project L/EARN?

No, Project L/EARN does not include experience in a clinical health care setting such as a hospital, or clinic. Interns learn to conduct statistical analysis of already-collected data on health topics, some of which cover issues related to health care practice or delivery. However, working with clinicians or patients is not part of the summer training program.

12. I am interested in health issues but Iím not a pre-med or other health science major.Can I apply for Project L/EARN?

Yes, Project L/Earn focuses on social science research methods and the majority of our applicants come from fields such as psychology, sociology, public health, communications, public policy, economics, political science or other majors. Applications are welcome from any major.

13. I want to be a physician/nurse/dentist. Would Project L/EARN be a good fit for me?

It can be. Project L/EARN has trained more than a dozen students who have gone on to nursing or medical school. An understanding of the research process and the use of evidence-based practice is very valuable for future health care providers.

14. I want to practice health law or health policy. Does Project L/EARN work for students with my interests?

Several Project L/EARN alumni have gone into health law and related fields, and a number have earned degrees or worked in health policy or public policy.

15. My GPA is kind of low because I didnít do well my freshman year/in my first major. Do I have a chance of being accepted into Project L/EARN?

Project L/EARN does not base admission on grades alone. The application includes a series of essays where you will have the opportunity to explain your interests, career goals, and history. Evidence of improving grades, or good grades in your current major will strengthen your case. That said, students should be prepared to work very hard, and to tackle challenging statistical and writing assignments (see summer program activities).

16. Iím not sure what I want to do after college. Is Project L/EARN a good way to figure that out?

To get the most out of Project L/EARN, it is best if you have some interest related to a health topic, and want to learn how to conduct research. However, many of our past interns didnít have a firm idea of what they wanted to do after college, and many changed areas of interest within health as a result of the program.

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How does the application process work?

17. Do I need letters of recommendation for Project L/EARN?

No. You are welcome to include them but they are not required. Project L/EARN is intended to provide research training opportunities for students regardless of whether they have worked closely with people who can provide academic or research-related references for them. In fact, this is one of the obstacles to participation in rigorous research training opportunities that Project L/EARN aims to eliminate.

18. I have attended more than one college/university. Do you need transcripts for all of them?

Yes. See application instructions for how to submit.

19. I canít access an electronic version of my transcript. How do I submit my transcript to Project L/EARN?

See application instructions for how to submit.

20. How does the application process work?

First, your completed application (biographical information, transcript, essays) is reviewed by the Project L/EARN directors and the faculty mentors whom you listed on your application (see application instructions Applicants who are highly ranked are invited for an interview (in-person for local applicants, by phone or Skype for others). The interviews are designed to help identify students whose interests and goals fit those of the Project L/EARN training program, and whose research interests match well with one of our current mentors. The directors and mentors then work together to select a cohort of the ten best intern/mentor matches.

21. Is Project L/EARN very competitive to get into?

In a typical year, we receive between 80 and 110 applications for 10 slots.

22. The deadline for your applications has passed, but I just heard of Project L/EARN. Can I still apply?

No. You may apply for next year if you are still eligible at that point.

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What do interns do during the summer training program?

23. What exactly would I be learning in the Project L/EARN summer training program?

Project L/EARN teaches social science health research, with an emphasis on statistical analysis of data that have already been collected. It covers social science research methods, statistics, research writing, health research ethics, and a range of topics on health and health care, all applied to writing an in-depth research paper. Click here for more information.

    It does NOT involve
  • ďBench scienceĒ in a biology or chemistry laboratory; no Petri dishes or microscopes!
  • Work in a psychology laboratory conducting experiments.
  • Clinical research in a health care setting (e.g., shadowing a doctor)
  • Collecting data (except for a small course project)

24. What kinds of topics can I study during the summer training program?

Topics address a wide range of issues related to physical and mental health, access to health care (e.g., insurance, cost, usual source of health care), health behaviors (e.g., smoking, vaccination, medication adherence), and many others . See the projects, descriptions of recent interns, and list of mentor projects for ideas of the range of topics available. Topics vary from year to year depending on our list of faculty mentors and their current research projects.
See the alumni projects.

25. I want to study a specific topic of interest to me. Can I do that in Project L/EARN?

Each intern undertakes a research project under the supervision of their faculty mentor, on a topic related to that mentorís research program. See the list of mentor projects to find out whether one or more mentors study the topic you are interested in.

26. Iíve heard you write a research paper in the course. How long does it have to be and what does it involve?

Each student writes a 25-30 page research paper, complete with a thorough review of published articles on the topic, statistical data analysis with tables and charts, and discussion of policy and research implications. The research writing process is taught during weekly writing workshops given by the Project L/EARN Faculty Director and other experienced faculty researchers. Each week, interns draft a section of the paper, which they submit to their mentor and a course instructor for detailed written feedback. They then revise the paper several times, thus learning firsthand how a research paper is developed.

27. What does a typical week in the Project L/EARN summer program involve?

Interns are required to attend lecture, lab, or mentor meetings from 9 am to 5 pm every weekday for the 10 week summer program. Evenings are usually spent reading assigned articles and textbooks, or completing problem sets and other homework in preparation for the next day. Weekends are spent writing and revising drafts of the research paper. It is an extremely intensive process, but worthwhile Ė see the testimonies of our recent interns.

28. Who teaches the Project L/EARN summer program?

The statistics and research methods lectures and computer lab sessions are taught by a team of course instructors and teaching assistants, all of whom are Project L/EARN alumni. Course instructors are typically doctoral students, while teaching assistants are masterís degree students, college seniors, or recent college graduates selected for their excellent performance in the program and their maturity. The writing workshops are taught by the Project L/EARN faculty director and other experienced faculty members.

29. What do Project L/EARN interns do during the academic year component?

The academic year component includes additional research with their mentor, either for a stipend or for academic credit (e.g., independent study or honors thesis). It also includes advising workshops taught by the Project L/EARN directors about the graduate school application process and other post-college clinical, research, or work experience.

30. I heard that Project L/EARN has an academic year component. Can I join it even if I didnít do the summer training program?

No. The academic year program is only for students who have participated in the Project L/EARN summer training program.

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What about the faculty mentors?

31. Who are the Project L/EARN faculty mentors?

Project L/EARN mentors are faculty at Rutgers University and nearby research institutions (e.g., UMDNJ, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey) who conduct research on some aspect of health, health behavior, or health care. They come from fields such as public health, sociology, psychology, nursing, social work, economics, and health policy. See List of Mentors

32. What do the faculty mentors do?

The Project L/EARN faculty mentors work individually with one intern each summer to help them develop, conduct, write up, and present a research project involving the mentorís data. They meet weekly with their intern to plan the next steps in their project, critique drafts of their written work, and plan their final oral presentation. They also provide advising about the internís future academic and career plans, and introduce them to colleagues in the studentís field of interest to help them learn more about graduate school and career options.

33. I donít see any mentors on this yearís list who are from my major area of study. Does that mean I canít apply?

Not at all! Health research is very interdisciplinary, and many Project L/EARN interns work with a mentor from a different field than their own. This can be very beneficial because the interns learn new skills and perspectives to complement those gained in the coursework for their major. Some interns have decided to add a minor in their mentorís field, to change majors, or to earn a graduate degree in that field because of their exposure to a different field while in Project L/EARN. See alumni bios for examples.

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What are the program benefits?

34. I need to earn money to pay some of my college expenses. Does Project L/EARN pay a stipend?

Yes, thatís where our name comes from: ďlearn while you earn!Ē Click here to find out the current stipend amount. L/EARN also provides room, board, tuition for the 3-credit summer course, books and fees for the summer program.

35. I read that interns receive 3 academic credits for the summer training program. What do those credits count for?

Interns receive 3 credits for a 300-level course ďAccelerated Research Methods.Ē Some students are able to count those credits toward a research methods or statistics requirement for their major. Others receive advanced elective credit in their major based on their final Project L/EARN summer paper. Or the credits can be counted toward general college graduation requirements.

36. I attend a university other than Rutgers. Would I get the 3 academic credits, and do they transfer to my college?

Project L/EARN interns from other colleges or universities are registered as Rutgers summer students for the duration of the summer program. Using an official copy of their Rutgers summer transcript and a copy of the Project L/EARN syllabus, most students have successfully transferred the credits to their home universities.

37. The program description mentions GRE preparation. Does L/EARN pay for that?

Yes, Project L/EARN pays the fees for a GRE preparation course (or preparation for MCAT, LSAT, NCLEX, or other graduate entrance exam) for our interns.

38. Does Project L/EARN pay for housing during the summer training program?

Yes. All interns are housed together in a Rutgers dorm for the summer, paid for by Project L/EARN. The program also provides a meal allowance during the summer training program.

39. I live near Rutgers. Could I commute from home during the summer program?

No. All interns are required to reside in the dormitory with their peers for the summer training program.

40. Does Project L/EARN cover travel expenses to and from New Jersey?

No. The program does not cover travel to and from the summer program.

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What is Project L/EARNís track record?

41. I want to go to graduate school. Can Project L/EARN help prepare me for that?

Yes, many of our alumni go on to graduate school, in fields such as psychology, public health, social work, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and many other fields. L/EARN alumni have undertaken masters degrees such as MPH, MSW, MA, MSN; others pursue doctoral degrees such as PhD, PsyD, MD, PharmD, DPT, or JD. See graduate school roll for more information. The program provides advising for the graduate school application process and pays for a graduate exam preparation course.

42. What kinds of careers do Project L/EARN interns pursue?

Most L/EARN alumni go into some kind of health-related field, including clinical health practice (psychology, medicine, nursing, pharmacy), public health, health education, social work, health policy, or health law. Many continue in research positions at a university, non-profit organization, or government agency, and several have become college professors.

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