Map LogoWhat is a MAP?

The Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) Definition

Mentored Advanced Projects provide a chance to work closely with a faculty member on scholarly research or the creation of a work of art. A Mentored Advanced Project is an approved course of faculty-directed scholarly or creative work that is the culmination of significant preparatory work. It serves to integrate the knowledge and skills gained by the student's course of studies, and aims to produce results that merit presentation to the wider scholarly world. The MAP program builds on the growing body of evidence demonstrating the value of undergraduate research. (Douglas Caulkins, “Student Faculty Research Collaboration in a Liberal Arts College.” Anthropology of Work Review, Vol XIX, No. 4 (18-23); David Lopatto, Science in Solution: the Impact of Undergraduate Research on Student Learning; David Lopatto, Undergraduate Research as a High-Impact Student Experience, AACE PeerReview Spring 2010 Vol.12 No.2)

A MAP can be the capstone of the academic major or a concentration, or it can serve to integrate a separate sequence not recognized as a formal program. The MAP may be independent or conducted with a research team. In many fields, MAPs are connected with the faculty member's scholarship and may contribute to ongoing faculty research. Specific MAP offerings are described in greater detail by departments, concentrations, divisions, and non-departmental majors.

The MAP opportunity is made available by specific programs and individual faculty members at their discretion, so students should not expect to set the terms for a particular MAP. Sound planning and attentiveness to the available opportunities are recommended to students who seek a chance to culminate their undergraduate work in a creative or scholarly field.

Grinnell College has funding available to support travel for students (or first-year graduates) whose MAP results are accepted for off-campus public presentation or performance. If your MAP work has been accepted for external presentation, you may apply for travel support (In the "Summary of Student Travel Guidelines" drawer)

Summer MAPs require both a faculty request for funding (due 1st Friday in February) and a student MAP application. For information on deadlines, please see Planning a MAP below.

The Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) can take a variety of forms, but it must have the following five features in order to be recognized and approved as a MAP:

1. The project is advanced.

Evidence of this attribute will be that the context in which the project occurs has one or more pre-requisites above the introductory level. Students who wish to enroll in a MAP must have completed second-year status and have obtained the instructor's permission.

2. It is the culmination of a sequence of previous academic work in one or more disciplines.

The student's MAP application project statement should explain the relation between specific previous work and the project. Clearly, a student will need to engage in planning in order to prepare for a MAP. Such planning would be in keeping with the "Comprehensive Academic Plan" that the faculty approved and that we now require students to complete when they declare a major.

3. It is intensively mentored by one or more faculty members.

Generally, mentoring will take the form of regular (e.g. weekly) face-to-face meetings, but, if necessary, frequent electronic or telephone contact could substitute for some of these meetings.

4. The student demonstrates initiative in shaping the project at each stage.

The evidence of student initiative will show up initially in the written application to undertake a MAP, see 2 above, although, depending on the context in which the MAP is undertaken, the major initiative may be evidenced at a later stage.

5. It results in a product that is shared, very possibly with an audience broader than the instructor and other students in a course.

By design, the product (research paper, performance, portfolio, intellectual journal etc.) has the potential for outside evaluation, public presentation, and archiving, although in each case the faculty member and student will decide on the appropriate venue and evaluation for the specific project. This site provides a partial list of conferences and journals for undergraduate research. The Publications and Venues for off-campus dissemination of MAP research pages can also give you an idea of venues for publication and presentation.

Information for Students

Applying for a MAP

To propose a MAP, use the application form, also available from the Registrar.

Student Date Due
Student MAP application Registrar Dates to Remember
Note: Summer MAPs also require the submission of a faculty request for funding (above).  
Academic Year MAP applications 1st Monday following end of Preregistration
Students on OCS the semester prior to the MAP, or who are applying for the second semester of a 2-part MAP 1st Friday of first full week of classes

Completed MAP applications should be returned to the Registrar's Office.

Frequently Asked Questions: Students

I'm not sure how to write a MAP proposal

See Detailed instructions for students on developing a successful MAP application (below.)

Can I hold a summer job in addition to my MAP project?
  • Students and faculty mentors should understand that a summer MAP project is understood to be a full-time job. This is the reason why summer MAP students are allocated a summer stipend. Students may not receive a wage for a second summer job at Grinnell College during the time that they are enrolled for the MAP.
My summer MAP entails a good deal of reading. I can read just about anywhere, so do I really need to be on campus for a summer MAP?
  • Yes, in the case you describe. However, in cases in which you must travel to another location for an extended period of time, to use an archive or special collection, or to study another regional context as an essential part of your research, you and your MAP director need not be on campus (see MAP Student Travel Guidelines and consult with the Associate Deans Office). You and your MAP director do need to be together since the MAP is a project that is actively mentored by your faculty director.
I am planning to work on a six or an eight-credit MAP. How are the two parts of the MAP graded?
  • MAP projects must comprise a total of 4, 6, or 8 credits, with no more than 4 credits earned in a single semester or summer. Although a MAP component may earn 2 credits, there are no 2-credit MAPs. Each portion of a two-part MAP receives a grade. As you plan the project, you and your mentor should agree upon a gradable product for each portion.
I am completing the first portion of a two-semester (or a summer plus one semester) MAP. I've been spending all of my time doing research and don't plan to start producing the final product until some time in the second portion. My mentor knows I've been working hard; can't she just give me an "S" for my research so far?
  • No. You must produce gradable work in order to receive a passing grade for the first portion of your two-semester (or multi-term) MAP. You and your mentor can think creatively about how you might produce something that would contribute to your final product in some way. You might compile an annotated bibliography. You might write a detailed plan of the artwork that you intend to produce or a proposal for the final stage of your research. You might write a detailed introduction to the research paper you intend to write during the second portion of the MAP, or the program notes for the theatrical production you will stage in the second portion of the MAP.
  • Producing a piece of gradable work will serve as an important first step toward the completion of a major project. It also ensures that you can receive a letter grade for the first portion of your work in case, for some unforeseen reason, you cannot complete the second portion of your MAP.
I want to enroll in a two-semester (or a summer plus one-semester) MAP. Does the second portion have to immediately follow the first?
  • In most cases, it is to your advantage to follow up the first semester's or the summer's work without an interruption. Your mentor can probably explain to you how difficult it can be to start up a project after a hiatus of several months. However, in some cases such a delay cannot be avoided. In particular, summer research MAPs may be conducted over the course of two summers.
I had planned to work on a summer MAP, had worked everything out with my professor, and had filed my application. Out of the blue, however, I've got this great opportunity to travel the length of the Amazon river! Can I just drop the MAP?
  • MAPs aren't like regularly offered courses. This is even more the case for summer MAPs. Considerable resources have already been allocated to your MAP before you even file the application. Furthermore, your mentor has made a commitment to you that may have involved changing summer plans in order to remain on-campus for the duration of your MAP. If your MAP is part of a faculty member's research project, your withdrawal may create complications for a project that has been designed to use research assistants. It will be too late for your mentor to find another assistant. For these reasons, permission to withdraw from a summer MAP will be granted only for a serious and unexpected crisis.
My MAP was really successful and my adviser wants me to present it at a conference. What do I need to do now?
  • Students can receive funding to present at one conference during the calendar year following their MAP. To request funding, go to the student travel request form.

MAP students are eligible to rent college-owned housing, subject to availability, either for that ten-week period, or for a six-week period during the first half or second half of the summer. Initial deposits and rent can automatically be deducted from MAP stipend payments. To accommodate building maintenance needs, the earliest date for students to move into the college-owned housing will be Memorial Day, and it will not be possible to remain any later than the first full week of August. (link to summer housing) Students interested in learning more about this opportunity should contact the Residence Life Housing Office.


If the MAP student has not previously been employed by the college, the student needs to complete employment forms at the Cashier's Office. The student will need either a passport or a driver's license and social security card. It is not possible to receive a paycheck without filing these employment forms. Student paychecks are issued throughout the summer on alternate Fridays as determined by the Office of the Treasurer, and are available for pick-up at the Cashier's Office.

Student MAP Proposal Guidelines

Detailed instructions on developing a successful MAP application

In consultation with your faculty mentor, prepare a detailed formal proposal describing the topic and project that seeks to persuade your reader that your project is worth supporting. Of course, no scholar can ever predict the exact outcome of scholarly and creative work, so your final project may not match your proposal exactly; however, writing a strong proposal increases the likelihood that you will produce a successful product. Due to the inherent “advanced” nature of the MAP, make sure that the proposal shows how you are grappling at a deep level with what’s been done before in the discipline and how your project responds to that previous work. Your MAP application should demonstrate your ability to conduct such an advanced study. Overall, this proposal should argue, using evidence, that this project is important, academically rigorous, and likely to result in a product that makes a new contribution to the field of study.

Specific points to consider in preparing your application:

  • A Mentored Advanced Project is an approved course of faculty-directed scholarly or creative work that culminates significant preparatory work. It integrates the knowledge and skills gained by your course of studies, and aims to produce results that merit dissemination to the wider scholarly community. Using this definition, argue that your proposed project is both advanced and integrative given the background and skills you bring to it.
  • State your problem or hypothesis and clearly place it within the field of previous and ongoing work of others. This description should reflect a thorough review of the literature on your topic, to make sure you know what other scholars are doing and what conclusions they are coming to.
  • Formulate and describe your approach to the project—the steps you will take to answer the questions/address the hypothesis you have already presented. Clearly and thoroughly articulate your methodology and why you will use this particular approach for your analysis, formation of a creative product, and/or data collection. Include references to particular influences and previous work that informs this process.
  • Identify what your research will contribute to the body of knowledge in the disciplinary area in which you are working. What will those who review your final product learn about the larger field of scholarship within which your project falls?
  • Pay attention to the requirements of academic honesty:
    • Remember that this proposal is a scholarly piece of writing; as such it should represent your most careful formal writing. As with any scholarly piece of writing, you must attribute ideas and words to their sources clearly and consistently, using whatever citation system is accepted in your discipline.
    • If you are proposing work that will be done in collaboration with others, whether faculty members or students, clarify what language and ideas belong to others and what are yours. Even if the project as a whole is collaborative, you must argue individually in your own words why the project represents advanced and integrative work for you.

Information for Faculty

Planning a Project

As you plan a Mentored Advanced Project, you should begin by thinking about the scope and desired results of your culminating scholarly or creative project. MAP applications must include a specific off-campus venue in order to be considered. Students will not be held to this venue, but need to have a goal in mind.

The interested student and potential faculty mentor should discuss

  • different possibilities for the project, the student's educational goals, the student's course history as preparation for the MAP, how the project fits into the student's four-year academic plan, how the project can connect with the faculty member's areas of interest in scholarship and/or teaching.

The student and faculty mentor need to consider

  • the methodology and timetable for the project;how often they would meet;the type of final product resulting from the MAP (in the case of a two-semester MAP, the student must provide the mentor with gradable work in both semesters);and what resources would be needed to carry out this project.

The expectation is that students will write a 20-25 page paper as the product should be advanced and demonstrate quality work.

MAP Credits

The Mentored Advanced Project takes place under the direct and continuous supervision of a Grinnell faculty member. The project must comprise a total of 4, 6, or 8 credits, with no more than 4 credits earned in a single semester or summer. Although a MAP component may earn 2 credits (for example, you might follow-up a four credit summer MAP with a two-credit MAP in the fall where you finish up the research and write the final draft of a research paper) there are no 2-credit MAPs. Background or preparatory work is best pursued as a regular Independent Study in advance of the MAP. The MAP proposal, including a description of all components of the project, should be submitted at the time of registering for the first component. Multi-term MAPs should begin with a 4-credit component. Please see the summary of the Curriculum Committee's Resolutions for more details.

Faculty MAP Report and Compensation

Faculty must file a report at the conclusion of the MAP. An on-line version of the report can be found at MAP Report Form. Compensation will be forfeit if the report is not completed within four months of completing the MAP. Multi-term MAPs require a report for each semester. There are three typical modes of compensation for accumulated MAPs: See Compensation

Clarification of Roles - Co-directorship versus 2nd reader

When a MAP is co-directed, it is assumed that both advisers share equal responsibility in mentoring the student. In a co-directed MAP, both directors guide the development, design, execution and evaluation of the product, each submit individual reports and both faculty members split the MAP credit. A second reader evaluates a draft of the product and gives feedback to the student and mentor. The second reader receives a $300 stipend for his/her evaluation. This compensation will be administered once the primary director states in the final MAP report that the second reader has fulfilled his/her responsibilities.

Dates to remember
Faculty Date Due
Application for Summer MAP funding 1st Friday in February
Summer MAPs also require the submission of a student MAP application See Registrar Dates to Remember for application deadline.
299/499 Report Form

On completion of 299 or 499 (two reports needed for 2-part projects)

Frequently Asked Faculty Questions: Faculty

How do I get funding for my summer MAP?
  • Funding requests need to be submitted to CSFS by the 1st Friday in February. Indicate on the Grant Request Form that you will be directing a MAP.
Is there a limit to the number of MAPs I can direct in a semester?
What is the difference between 299, 399, and 499s?
A really great student has just asked me if I will supervise a summer research project. It is a very good project and I think that he would benefit from the experience, but the summer is the only time when I can write for long uninterrupted periods! What should I do?
  • The College recognizes that summers are essential to our faculty members' own research programs; their research must come first. Clearly, it is your choice whether to agree to serve as a mentor, whether the MAP takes place during the school year or the summer. You are never obliged to conduct a MAP and there may be many reasons why you choose not to do so. Supervising a summer MAP will take plenty of time and attention and requires the mentor's presence on campus, so faculty members should think long and hard before accepting any obligations that will compete with their own summer research and writing agenda. Student-initiated summer MAPs will be rare, and students should be aware of this if they propose such a project.
Can I receive monetary compensation instead of course credits for the MAPs I supervise?
  • The College recognizes that supervising an independent research project like a MAP is time-consuming. The allocation of credit of one-sixth of a course for four and six- credit MAPs, and one-fourth of a course for eight-credit MAPs is a recognition that supervising MAPs comprises part of a faculty member's teaching load. Its purpose is not to pay faculty to load up on their teaching but to free them to engage in this one-on- one teaching experience.
  • See Compensation
  • Faculty members in temporary positions can receive a monetary compensation. They should discuss any plans to supervise a MAP with the department chair and with the Dean.
Now that MAPs are regularized, do I have to file a MAP report?
  • Yes. MAPs are regularized, but they are still in the process of being defined. The College will need more feedback from faculty mentors as we continue to work on better serving MAP students and their mentors. Additionally, in the next few years the Curriculum Committee will be considering whether to extend course credits to the directors of other kinds of independent research and independent study. Its members will need to draw on the collective wisdom of MAP directors. The faculty report form is short and fairly simple. It can be found at MAP Report Form and can be filled out and submitted on-line. Teaching credit for MAPs is not allocated until after the faculty member submits a report for each MAP completed under his or her supervision that semester. Faculty members who choose not to complete the MAP Report Form will forfeit compensation for that project.
  • While faculty members teaching MAP seminars receive their course compensation when they teach the seminar in lieu of a normal teaching obligation, they are encouraged to fill out the report form as well.
Are MAPs now the only kind of independent research project that a student can pursue?
  • Students can enroll in (and you can supervise) 399s and 397s. In special circumstances, some faculty members also supervise 299s.
My student didn't appear on my grade sheet. Why?
  • If you don't receive a grade sheet for your MAP student, then your student isn't registered for the MAP. Contact the Associate Deans' Office for help.
What's the difference between co-directing a MAP and acting as a second reader?
  • When a MAP is co-directed, it is assumed that both advisers share equal responsibility in mentoring the student. In a co-directed MAP, both directors guide the development, design, execution and evaluation of the product, each submit individual reports and both faculty members split the MAP credit. A second reader evaluates a draft of the product and gives feedback to the student and mentor. The second reader receives a $300 stipend for his/her evaluation. This compensation will be administered once the primary director states in the final MAP report that the second reader has fulfilled his/her responsibilities.
I've accrued a course release. Now what?
  • If you choose to redeem all or part of a MAP-related course release, please notify your department chair and the Dean's office, typically in the fall semester the year before the course reduction takes place. MAP course Reduction Plan form