Will being a Gemstone student allow me to graduate in 4 years?
Students can graduate in 4 years but it depends on the student's personal choice. Some students may take longer to graduate because they spent time studying abroad, interning or working in a co-op position. We support our students' academic aspirations. We work with major departments to assist departmental advisors when they are working with Gemstone students. The Gemstone Program is dedicated to making sure students have a rich, intellectually stimulating and satisfying experience while they are at the University.
Can students graduate early?
Yes, that is possible. If students intend to earn the Gemstone Citation, they should work with the team mentor and Associate Director to determine how they can assist the team while studying abroad and meet the Citation Requirements. Students can reference our Academic Policies to get the details about how this works.
Do students have to take additional credits to earn a Gemstone Citation?
Yes, Gemstone requires that students take a total of 18 additional credits over 4 years. These credits are taken in addition to what is required for the student's major. Eleven of these credits are the 2 credits per semester that students earn for doing research in their teams. For students entering the program in the fall 2012 semester, 12 of the additional credits satisfy the university's new general education requirements. See Curriculum for more details.
What is the typical workload for a Gemstone student?
Typical? That really depends on the student and what he or she hopes to accomplish (double majoring, working, fraternity/sorority involvement, athletics, etc.), so, it is hard to say. The demands of extracurricular research are time consuming. Time management skills are crucial for students to manage the academic workload and extracurricular demands. Gemstone students are very busy; they learn time management skills early in their academic careers.
Can a student request a transfer to the University Honors Program, if after accepting the Gemstone invitation he/she decides Gemstone is not for them?
Yes, that is possible. Students in the Gemstone Program may request to move to the more flexible Honors College Program. We encourage second semester freshmen to make this decision prior to joining a team, which happens in GEMS 102 (see the Curriculum for details concerning GEMS 102). Students may not transfer to any other Honors College program after matriculating, except University Honors.
Will students earn scholarship money because they are a Gemstone student?
There are no special scholarships offered simply because a student accepts the Gemstone invitation. If you have questions regarding scholarships specific to Honors College students, visit the University of Maryland Prestigious Merit Scholarships.
Do Gemstone students have to live on campus?
We do not have mandatory housing. We have priority housing in Ellicott for Gemstone freshmen and the large majority live there, but students have to let the Housing office in Resident Life know their intentions. Students receive information about Housing options from Resident Life.
Can Gemstone students double major?
Sure, Gemstone students are ambitious and talented, so many students double major. Students will need to work closely with their major department(s) to familiarize themselves with degree curriculum requirements. Students may need to take many credits, but it is possible to earn two degrees or double major (there is a difference). One is not equivalent to the other. The Undergraduate Catalog will provide you with details on the University's distinction.
How big are teams?
Teams start with 8-14 members. Ideally, teams are formed with around 10-12 members. Please view the list of teams to get an idea of the size for each class.
Can Gemstone students study abroad?
Yes! Gemstone students are encouraged to study abroad as long as they adhere to a few required guidelines. Study abroad must take place second semester sophomore year, or either semester junior year, and must be limited to one semester (year-long programs are not permitted) but can be combined with a winter term or a summer. The semester before going abroad, the student will work with their teammates and mentor to create a contract outlining what he or she will accomplish for the team while abroad. Students will also be responsible for staying up to date on and contributing to the team's progress. Students are also more than welcome to study abroad as many times as they’d like during the winter and summer terms.
Once a student has been accepted into the University, do they now have to fill out a separate application for Gemstone?
No. Gemstone Students are selected from those applicants who have been offered a place in the Honors College. The process requires that these new Honors College students indicate their preference about which of the 7 programs they prefer on the Honors College website (http://www.honors.umd.edu/). Later in the spring semester, students who have been selected for Gemstone will be notified.
How does the Gemstone Program compare to the other Honors College living-learning programs?
To learn more about the differences between the 7 programs within the Honors College, please visit the Honors College website for a comparison.
What are some recent Gemstone team projects?
Team websites can be found on the team web page. Research descriptions can be found within this year’s The Stone. Projects span the education, political, and laboratory science fields, to name a few. Most project ideas are entirely student-generated, and therefore the possibilities for future projects are limitless.
How does the Gemstone team selection process work?
The second semester of the freshman year, students take GEMS102, a course entirely devoted to the team selection process. In this class, all students first brainstorm and submit a variety of ideas. In the next phase, students get their project ideas “vetted” by an expert in the field to ensure that the project is realistic and possible. From this point, the topics brainstormed at the beginning are narrowed down through a preference voting process. Each week, the students who are very interested in a particular project will advertise their idea and present it in front of the entire freshman class. Each student votes to narrow down the possibilities. At the end of the semester, students vote for the project they want to spend the next 3 years working on, ranking projects by preference. Students will then be placed on teams of 8-14 people according to these research preferences. Most students within the program are placed on either of their top two project choices.