Leader. Scholar. Citizen.

The University Fellows Experience is a community of elite scholars from diverse disciplines who share a similar passion to become change agents through commitment to leadership and service.

Following the classical purpose of education, the production of good citizens, the University Fellows Experience strives to prepare the most able and dedicated students at The University of Alabama for remarkable lives of leadership in and service to their community, state, nation, and world.

Defining Qualities of a Fellow

  • Intellectual curiosity and sophisticated intellectual engagement
  • Collaboration with others on significant contributions in a variety of fields
  • Passion for being a leader, committed to making positive contributions to society
  • Initiative, creativity, depth of character, exceptional potential
  • Demonstrated leadership throughout high school career
  • Continued development of leadership qualities in college career through active involvement

University Fellows Experience Chief Components

  • Mentoring by top University of Alabama faculty members
  • Team-built atmosphere of support and stimulation
  • Interaction with cutting-edge experts in all fields
  • Engagement in important cultural, social, and scientific enterprises
  • Service to the community, including an ongoing initiative in Alabama’s Black Belt
  • Professional internships in the area of each student’s interest
  • In-home dinner discussions with faculty, staff, and community leaders
  • Fellows-specific seminar courses
  • Senior Symposium
  • Assistance in applying for jobs, prestige scholarships, and graduate/professional schools
  • Guidance in creating a portfolio preparing students for substantial experience post-graduation
  • Cultural immersion, including annual domestic excursions and an optional international excursion

The University Fellows Experience seeks students with a true passion for service and leadership. Those selected will pursue knowledge and action in the classroom, on the campus, in the community, and in the world. Mentored by top professors, supported by their UFE peers, and stimulated by world-class experts in many disciplines, University Fellows will enjoy the richest of college educations, create enduring personal cultures of learning, and embrace service to others as a guiding priority.

The University Fellows Experience provides unique opportunities for leadership development, meaningful civic engagement, service to the community, and interaction in a variety of academic enterprises. Throughout the college experience, Fellows enjoy a close knit community of mutual support and interclass exchange of ideas through Dinner Discussions with community leaders and academic experts, Community Immersion Experiences, cultural exposure opportunities, and project development and implementation. With topical seminars offered for interclass discussion and exploration of ideas, Fellows enjoy a sense of community throughout their time at The University.

Freshman Year: Develop

Seminars to explore issues of servant leadership, personal development, project development and implementation, and civic engagement

Black Belt Experience in May, wherein Fellows partner with local initiatives, programs, and individuals in Perry County, Alabama and implement projects that address challenges of systemic poverty

Sophomore Year: Expand

Seminar to explore issues of leadership in the community, including a series of exposures to the practical and multi-faceted aspects of being a good citizen

Participate in significant contributions both individually and collaboratively in an effort to connect idea development with the creation of positive action

Junior Year: Focus

Receive individualized assistance and support for career options and post-undergraduate opportunities

Active and ongoing research and correspondence with key figures in their field of interest, including pertinent professional conferences

Senior Year: Culminate and Give Back

Distinguish themselves in their fields of study through published or presented articles, research, or related productive materials

Reflect their work in a four-year culminating Magnum Opus project



“The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” The words of Thomas Henry Huxley embody the belief of the University Fellows, those individuals who strive to see knowledge turned to action for the good of our communities. Black Belt Experience, the signature Fellows project, creates an opportunity for students to explore the various issues affecting poverty in the Black Belt and to partner with individuals and organizations in Marion, Perry County, Alabama to create systemic change. Students are servant leaders and change agents who create projects that both respond to the needs of the community and capitalize on the students’ particular interests, gifts, and abilities in preparation for lifelong civic action.


The University Fellows’ inaugural Black Belt Experience was May 2009. Since that time, the Honors College has developed significant community partnerships and seen these grow into integral relationships that both provide ongoing opportunity for meaningful service learning for our students and provide fresh energy and perspective to many challenges expressed by member of the Marion community. The continued work with specific partners such as the local public elementary, middle and high schools, Main Street Marion, the Marion-Perry County Library, and the local nonprofit Sowing Seeds of Hope enable a more promising future: sustainable projects that see educational growth, economic development, health and nutrition improvement, and greater community interaction.

Eligibility and Application

A student with an ACT score of 32 or an SAT score of 1420 (evidence-based reading and writing plus math) and a high school GPA of 3.8 is eligible to apply for the University Fellows Experience. Once accepted to the University of Alabama, a student can access both the Honors College and the UFE online applications. Students in UFE must be members of the Honors College; they may apply to the Honors College before applying to UFE or at the same time. UFE applications must be submitted online by the deadline of Dec. 8, 2023; students will be notified of their application status through their Crimson Mail accounts by early February. Semifinalists will receive Zoom or phone interviews, and finalists will be invited to on-campus interviews in late February.

Apply to UFE

Any incoming Freshman accepted to the Honors College may be nominated by a high school representative or a UA faculty member if they do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for the University Fellows Experience. The online nomination form (including the student’s full contact information and letter of nomination) must be completed by Dec. 1, 2023.

Please note that the nomination form is only for students who do not meet the automatic eligibility requirements.

The UFE selection committee will consider the candidate’s record of impact in the community, leadership achievements, extracurricular activities, and candidate’s essays much more heavily than grades and test scores. We seek students who ultimately will make a difference throughout their lives; therefore, creativity, productivity, community engagement, leadership, and personal growth are points to highlight on your resume and in your essays.

A required letter of recommendation must be submitted for applicants through the online system by Jan. 12, 2024 (limit to one letter per applicant). Recommenders will be notified by email when an applicant selects them as a recommender.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. You may email honors@ua.edu or call (205) 348-5500.