“URSA personally impacted me on a very deep level because of the connection we all shared before the program even began. We had all experienced struggles with being underrepresented in some way, and while we hadn’t had the exact same experiences, we related to each other in a way that others might not…. I would recommend URSA to other underrepresented physics students a thousand times over because of the impact it can and did have on me.

– Sabrina F., URSA 2023 participant”

What is URSA?

The Undergraduate Residential Summer Access program (URSA) is a two-week early arrival orientation program for undergraduates dedicated to forming a friendly community amongst historically underrepresented students in Physics and Astronomy majors before the school year starts. 

As an URSA participant you’ll get to know OSU’s campus and be introduced to life as a college student with around 15 of your peers, making new friends and forming study groups. You’ll also be closely mentored by a team of graduate students who are invested in making your first OSU experience fun and accessible.

In the mornings and afternoons you’ll attend graduate-student-led interactive lessons, workshops, and labs centered around topics including metacognition, basic physics and astronomy, science identity, and professional development, helping you build skills and work in groups in preparation for your first semester.

The theme for URSA 2024 is “What is Time?”: Though time as a concept is deeply engrained in daily life, a definitive answer to this simple question has eluded the inquiry of philosophers and scientists alike throughout history. Despite this ambiguity, the ability to keep and measure time is essential to every scientific field. At the 2024 session of URSA, students will engage in interactive lessons, hands-on experiments, and projects relevant to research at Ohio State all aimed at exploring the role of time within physics and astronomy and understanding these disciplines’ tentative answers to this deep, thought-provoking, yet elusive question.

In the evenings you’ll participate in social and developmental activities focused around building a fun and supportive community and preparing you to be successful in your first year. 

Your participation in URSA comes at no cost to you. Polaris will cover your housing and dining costs for the duration of the two-week program. At the conclusion of URSA, you’ll be encouraged to participate in the Mentorship Program and carry the community and connections you’ve formed into the academic year.

For more testimonials, check out the URSA – Testimonials page.

More about URSA

As a Polaris initiative, URSA’s goals are in-line with Polaris’ and include:

  • Modeling science as it is practiced
  • Building a peer and near-peer community
  • Teaching skills for effective group work
  • Building a metacognitive and meta-affective toolkit with participants
  • Sharing knowledge about diversity and equity in scientific institutions

You can find a sample schedule from LAST year’s URSA here.

The program dates are August 4th – August 16th 2024 with move-in occurring August 3th – August 4th. Unfortunately, due to the overlap with international student orientation, we are not able to accommodate international students in URSA. International students are still welcome to participate in the Polaris Mentorship Course (PHYS 2050.01) during the school year.

All food, housing, and program supply needs are provided free of charge for all participants, but we also have limited financial aid available for a few students who demonstrate financial need.

The URSA scholarship is open to all students applying for the program and the process to apply for these awards is included in the URSA program application. URSA scholarships are $1,300 and are applied to participants’ financial aid accounts. Aid posts within 10 days of the start of the Fall semester. It will be applied to tuition and other university fees first; any amount leftover in your financial aid account is paid out to your bank account.

How to Apply?

The application form for URSA 2024 is now live! Applications will be due in the very beginning of July. Keep an eye out for URSA and Polaris-related material at new student orientation!

Continue to check back here for more updates. If you have any questions, please reach out to OSUPolaris@osu.edu.

Getting Involved

If you are a graduate student at OSU and are interested in helping make URSA happen, check out the subpage for URSA – Getting Involved.

“The URSA program is spectacular. The program is making a significant and direct impact on retention and experience of underrepresented groups in our Physics undergraduate majors. This is important work, and it is wonderful that it is led and run by graduate students from Physics and Astronomy.”

– Michael Porier, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics