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The Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Research Seminar is a year-long, six credit course intended to reach beyond the objectives of a typical graduate seminar by experimenting with existing models of research and creating new models of collaboration and pedagogy. In the selection process, preference is given to proposals with innovative research, accessibility to students from a broad range of disciplines, and original format.

The seminar leader receives a research account and a budget to invite seminar speakers. With the Department Chair's endorsement (or that of the Dean's, if applicant is a Department Chair), the Seminar can count toward the faculty member's standard teaching load. Department Chairs of awarded proposals may additionally request to pay a graduate student to teach one replacement course. 

In consultation with the HRC, the seminar leader selects five doctoral students, preferably in their third or fourth year of study, to participate in the Seminar.  Each of the selected seminar students enrolls in the seminar and receives a stipend supplement. One of the students is chosen to function as a "recorder" and creates a summary of the seminar meetings, receiving an additional stipend per semester in this role.  Seminar students are also eligible to apply for supplemental funding in order to disseminate their research (e.g., travel and conference registration costs).