Dig Deeper and Make Connections

The Wartburg Scholars Program is an honors program that brings together highly motivated students from a broad range of disciplines. It is dedicated to improving the intellectual life on campus by providing students who strive for academic excellence enriching academic challenges and learning opportunities through service activities, coursework, and research. Through these endeavors, students become more independent and think more critically about new knowledge while gaining a greater appreciation and respect for diversity.

Scholars Program Director
Dr. Leilani Zart 

What are the additional benefits of the Wartburg Scholars Program?

The opportunity to live with other Scholars students in a living-learning community.

Interaction with other motivated students who enjoy intellectual challenges.

The Academic Scholars Project Requirement – Typically completed in a student’s senior year, this experience focuses on research or some other creative endeavor (the format of which will depend upon the nature of the project, one’s academic major program requirements, and the guiding principles of one’s academic discipline).

Smaller class sizes (typically 18 or fewer) allow for more in-depth exploration of coursework.

Seminars offered only to Scholars students, including one taught by the college president and dean of the faculty.

Special programming open only to students in the program.


High school students are eligible to apply for the Scholars Program if they meet at least ONE of the following criteria:

  • are graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class 
  • have an ACT composite score of 26 or above 
  • have a high school GPA of 3.5 or above

Transfer students who have earned a college GPA of 3.5 or above or who have a letter of support also may apply.

Interested students who do not meet any of the above requirements for application may apply to the program with a letter of support from an individual who can speak to his or her intellectual promise.

A completed application includes two essays submitted by April 1 at the link below. Applicants will be notified via email of their application status by April 20.

Students interested in the Academically and Civically Engaged Scientists (ACES) Scholarship Program may find more information and a joint application for the ACES Scholarship and Scholars Program through the ACES Program page.


Freshmen live with other incoming Scholars in Clinton Hall as part of a living/learning community during the first year.

Opportunities Seminar SCH 115 (first year): A 0.25 credit course taken in Winter Term.

Two Scholars Contract courses: Students convert two 200-level or above courses to Scholars Contract courses by completing a project in addition to normal coursework. Students complete the normal coursework for the grade and the extra project for the Scholars designation on the course. A Scholars contract is submitted to the director of the Scholars Program. Upon completion of the contract, Scholars credit is awarded and noted on the transcript.

Yearly team-based service projects with individual reflection culminating in a service portfolio.

Freshman Seminar SCH 101 substitutes for IS 101, which is a required course for all first-year students.

Sophomore Seminar SCH 202 substitutes for IS 201, which is a required course for all second-year students.

SCH 401 Senior Seminar: A 0.25 credit course taken in the fall of one’s senior year that is taught jointly by the dean of the faculty and president.


Participation in the Wartburg Scholars Program culminates in an Academic Scholars Project. This is typically completed in a student’s senior year and focuses either on an independent or collaborative research project or some other creative endeavor, depending upon the student’s interests. The format of the project is highly dependent upon the nature of the project, one’s academic major program requirements, and the guiding principles of one’s academic discipline. Students present their work at the annual Research, Internship, and Creative Endeavor Day (RICE Day) and submit a written thesis. In their junior or senior year, students identify research mentors and begin preparation of their proposals. Proposals are due to the program committee during Fall Term of their senior year. 

Examples of past Academic Scholars Projects:

Derek Norton, Biology
Effect of Opposite-sex Pheromones on Immediate Early Gene Expression in Castrated and Intact Male Goldent Hamsters
Mentor: Samantha Larimer Bousquet

Serena Ugoretz, English
The Young Latino American Dream
Mentor: Zak Montgomery

Brian Vachta, Mathematics/Physics
From Source to Detector: Research in Astronomy, Photometry, and the Atmosphere
Mentor: Charles Figura

Ngaire Honey, Spanish/International Relations
Educating Afro-Brazilian Girls for Citizenship in Bahia, Brazil
Mentor: Brett Billet

Allison Milner, Spanish
A Memoir of Sorts
Mentor: Amy Nolan

Abbigail Mueller, Music Therapy
The Musical Moment:  An Analysis of Paul Hindemith’s Bassoon Sonate
Mentor: Gregory Morton

Jon Juett, Mathematics/Computer Science
John Deere Driving Simulation
Mentor: John Zelle

Rebecca Fishbune, Community Sociology/Psychology
Knowledge of and Social Distance from Autism Spectrum Disorders
Mentor: Shaheen Munir


Lizabeth Gehring

Assistant Professor of English Education

Zak Montgomery

Associate Professor in Spanish

Penni Pier

Professor of Journalism and Communication

Daniel Sundblad

Associate Professor of Sociology

Leilani Zart

Associate Professor of Chemistry