Benton Scholars

Developing and preparing world leaders for success in a global 21st century

About the Program

The Benton Scholars program infuses the curriculum of its students with an even greater focus on civic and social leadership. While Benton scholars are free to craft their own majors, courses of study, and extracurricular priorities, they receive unique opportunities in their first year to learn on and off campus, with the responsibility of sharing the knowledge they acquire with the greater Colgate community.

While the formal opportunities of the program are focused primarily on the scholars' first year, they are a part of a Benton Scholars community that persists throughout their four years on campus.

There is no application for the Benton Scholars programs — scholars are selected at the time of their admission to Colgate.

The First-Year Experience

In the first year, the Benton Scholars program integrates scholars' learning, living, and travel experiences, preparing them for civic and social leadership roles on campus, and after graduation.

During their first semester, all Colgate students participate in a first-year seminar. The course serves as an introduction to university-level academics and is taught by the professor who will serve as their faculty adviser until they declare their major in the sophomore year.

The Benton Scholars' experience is unique. All scholars are enrolled in the same seminar, which leads into a related course during their second semester. The scholars then draw on what they have learned as they embark upon an academic travel experience in May, following finals week.

As part of the Benton Scholars community, all first-year scholars generally reside in the same Residential Commons. This proximity in living arrangements helps the group build a social community, and encourages the scholars to informally continue thought and discussion about the subjects they are exploring together in the curriculum.

After finals week in May of their first year, the Benton Scholars travel together with a professor to experience first-hand and further explore the subjects they have studied throughout the academic year.

Experience in 2018–19

Scholars embarked on a 12-day SEA Semester boat trip to the Seamounts National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean. This followed a year spent studying atmospheric change with Jonathan Levine and oceanography and climate change with Amy Leventer.

Upcoming Experience in 2019–20

Following coursework on colonialism and postcolonialism with professors Mark Stern and Danny Barreto, the scholars will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Benton Scholars of all class years may apply for mini-grants to fund the exploration of topics of academic interest outside the classroom. This may include funding applied toward academic travel and undergraduate research projects.

Toward academic travel and research

Bentons may apply for a mini-grant once every academic year. The application process requires:

  • A project proposal
  • Proposed budget
  • Itinerary

Applications are reviewed by the program's faculty director. Scholars interested in applying for an award should contact them for more information.

Faculty and Staff

Students in the Benton Scholars program benefit from the engagement and guidance of both a faculty and staff director:

Associate Professor of Computer Science; Director, Benton Scholars Program
Administrative Assistant
McGregory Hall