Program Background

The faculty, staff, and students at CSU are actively engaged in a wide range of scholarly activities that both anticipate and respond to the interests and needs of the people of Colorado, the nation, and the world. In these endeavors, we are recognized as one of the most highly rated public research universities in the United States. Faculty, staff, and students at CSU are pioneers in a variety of disciplines that help shape our global environment. The Mentored Research and Artistry Distinction provides a structure for undergraduate students to engage in these activities. Whether investigating infectious disease or the benefits of music therapy, international economics, or regional climate change, every undergraduate is encouraged to contribute to the scholarly output of CSU. 

Students who graduate with this distinction will have: 

  • Participated in a mentored experience in addition to their normal degree coursework that allows them to engage in authentic research or artistic work.  
  • Made meaningful, unique contributions to their field or discipline that they have shared with an audience (public or discipline-based).  
  • Learned about and engaged in multiple aspects of the research or creative enterprise, from inception to dissemination.   
  • Gained transferable skills and be better prepared to enter graduate programs and the work force.  

Program Philosophy

Aristotle noted, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” The development and application of new knowledge plays an essential role at research-intensive universities, enhancing both learning and teaching. The Mentored Research and Artistry Distinction allows students to initiate a learning experience under the close guidance of a faculty mentor. Research and artistry, as an extension of the learning experience beyond the classroom, leads to the acquisition of skills and unique mindsets necessary to create new ideas and expand human knowledge. Through inquiry, students become their own teachers pursuing answers to unresolved questions and enriching their educational experience. For example, a student may use techniques learned in a chemical engineering laboratory to explore alternatives for clean energy. Another student might expand the technical repertoire of acrylic painting in the context of experimenting on canvas. In all cases, each student’s path to new knowledge is enhanced with the guidance and experience of a mentor. The role of faculty mentors in undergraduate inquiry is to provide input, feedback, and support while guiding students in the responsible and ethical pursuit of new knowledge and experiences. 

Main Features

The goal of the Mentored Research and Artistry Distinction (MRAD) is to promote and deepen undergraduate inquiry and creativity at CSU, while recognizing student excellence in undergraduate research, artistry, and other creative work. The experience and designation allow students to distinguish themselves as undergraduate scholars and artists in their disciplines. The program recognizes that exemplary student scholarship encompasses a depth of knowledge in the discipline, strong skills of inquiry, an understanding of ethics, responsiveness to arts and culture (artistry) and strong skills in communication. The MRAD is adaptable to any field in which a student wishes to conduct creative scholarship (research and artistry). The criteria for completion are rigorous, ensuring that only the most dedicated students receive the distinction of Mentored Research and Artistry on their transcript. Students earn the right to wear the Mentored Research and Artistry Distinction’s Silver cords with their graduation regalia and of listing this distinction among their academic achievements. 


Dr. Louise C. Allen, Program Director
Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry (OURA), The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT)
Colorado State University


To be awarded the distinction, the following seven (7) requirements must be satisfied. 

  1. At least two semesters of mentored research or artistry documented by a letter of support from the mentor
  2. Service to research/artistry on campus or engagement with community
  3. Active participation in a service organization or a registered student organization relevant to their discipline
  4. Participation in at least 5 OURA Undergrad Workshops (students can replace this with a discipline-based research/methods course, or with participation in a research skill building program [e.g., TILT OURA Lab or MURALS FYS Academy])
  5. Publicly Present/Perform
  6. Final Report/Reflection
  7. Submission to a peer-reviewed or juried publication;  submission to a conference/art exhibit; adjudicated submission; or submission to another selective conference, exhibition or public performance1

More information about the MRAD is available on the OURA MRAD website.

Upon completion submission of evidence for all of the above listed criteria, via the MRAD Canvas success course, The Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry will review the materials and confirm the student’s successful completion of the program notifying CSU's Office of the Registrar for transcription of the Mentored Research and Artistry Distinction.


Note: Students have up to one year after graduation to complete the journal publication submission requirement provided all other criteria is submitted and the work being submitted was completed as an undergraduate. In these instances, the students' transcripts can be amended to include Mentored Research and Artistry post-graduation.