What is SPARK?

SPARK = Students Pursuing Academic and Real-world Knowledge.

SPARK is intended to help make possible great opportunities that can inspire learning, growth, and connections that can be life-enriching, door-opening, and career-enhancing.

Nazareth University's Center for Life's Work offers $1,500 SPARK grants to help cover undergraduate student costs for:

  • an unpaid or underpaid summer internship
  • unpaid or underpaid summer research
  • an international experience (a Nazareth-approved study abroad or service opportunity abroad) any time of year

Nazareth also provides a tuition scholarship for summer SPARK-eligible experiences that earn credit, bringing the total SPARK support to more than $4,000 (for a 3-credit experience).

Who is eligible?

  • First-time full-time undergraduate first-year students within 24 months of your start date at Nazareth. 
  • First-time full-time undergraduate transfer students within 12 months of your start date at Nazareth (exception: 18 months if you transfer to Nazareth before the end of your first year). 
  • Overall GPA of 2.5 or greater required when your application is approved. (Students may apply for an exception through a petition process.)
  • You must be registered at Nazareth for the semester following your SPARK experience.
  • You have an active planning process established with your career coach.

**If you already have a bachelor's degree, either from Nazareth or another college or university, you are NOT eligible. 


When can it be used?

  • Summer Internships: May through August. You will be notified when you are eligible to register for this course, which you then do in Student Planning. (Your career coach will help you determine the appropriate course).
  • Summer Research: May through August. You will be notified when you are eligible to register for this course, which you then do in Student Planning. (Your career coach will help you determine the appropriate course).
  • Study Abroad: Eligible for fall, winter, spring or summer, both short term and long term semester programs.

Other benefits to the SPARK program?

  • Housing: If you line up a summer internship or summer research experience in Rochester and you don't live locally, a limited number of on-campus rooms are available for a nominal fee, per summer term (A and/or B). Indicate your housing need on the SPARK Grant application and apply through the Nazareth housing system by the deadline. 
  • Credits: You can receive a SPARK scholarship for up to 3 credits for a summer internship, research, or study abroad experience (within the eligibility time frame).

How to Apply

1. Seek the guidance of your your career coachearly on to start the application process. Also see the guidelines below for internships, research, and international experiences.

2. Line up the program you're going to do, choosing an international experience program, a summer internship role, or a summer research role.

3. Use the SPARK application checklist to guide you through each step of the application process.

4. Get the appropriate experience approval form signed BEFORE the experience begins.

4. Have all of the following handy in digital form::

  • Signed experience approval form. You can scan and email it to yourself at the Nazareth library at no charge.
  • Your resume as a pdf, See your career coach for resume help.
  • Unofficial transcript (Login to Naznet Self-Service, choose Academics, then Student Planning, then Unofficial Transcript.) This transcript should reflect that you are enrolled in classes for the following semester
  • Student Payment Check Request Form

5. Meet with your career coach to complete the application. Please have the digital documents with you, ready to upload. Your coach will then send it on to be entered into the system. 

*Please note that SPARK is not retroactive. Applications will be denied and check requests will not be processed if submitted after an internship or research experience is over OR after your departure from the U.S. to begin an international experience. Internship and research experiences must be completed and approved by the drop/add deadline for summer courses.

Apply for a SPARK Grant

What happens after I apply?

Your application will be reviewed by the SPARK committee (including your career coach). You will receive an email within a couple weeks to let you know whether your application has been approved. Please reach out to Chrissy Miller in GAC 121 or email her at cmiller81@naz.edu with any questions. 

If approved, how and when do I get the funds?

You have set up your E-checking account through Naznet by now, so your funds will be dispersed depending on your chosen pathway.

For an internship or research experience, your SPARK grant monies will be deposited beginning at the start of Summer A . (Date will vary depending on start date of experience.)

For a long-term international experience, you will receive the funds at the start of the Fall or Spring semester (your term of experience).

For a short-term international experience, talk to Josh Fess or Chrissy Miller in the Center for International Education. SPARK may not be used as a deposit for a study abroad program. You can expect to receive the $1,500 after you have already paid some or all of required study abroad payments.

Reminder: You will receive the $1,500 deposited directly into your bank account only after you have entered your banking information into NazNet Self Service and Accounts Payable approves it. Also, if you have an account for an on-campus job or tuition refund, you still need to set up a separate e-check account for SPARK.

For the majority of short-term international experiences, after you complete the SPARK application, your grant is applied toward your final payment(s) and will be deposited directly into the program account on your behalf.

Additional requirements and aid if you're earning credit for your experience

If you will earn credit for your approved SPARK experience, you also receive a SPARK tuition scholarship to cover up to 3 credits.

  • Talk to your career coach to determine if your summer experience has a credit-bearing component and (if yes) to understand the process and timing of when you register for the course.
  • Be aware that the registration process automatically generates a student invoice/bill for these credits — and you (and any family member who receives your tuition bills) will receive an email to check your NazNet Self-Service Account. Don't panic! Your semester billing statement will show your SPARK experience tuition temporarily, until your tuition waiver is processed by the Financial Aid office. Once your entire financial aid record for the coming year (summer, fall, spring semesters) is complete (including the FAFSA form/process), you will receive an electronic award notice from the Financial Aid office as well as an email from Student Accounts prompting you to view an updated bill that will show a SPARK tuition scholarship offsetting the cost of the credits for the SPARK course. (The waiver does not cover a registration fee of $30, nor any on-campus housing fees if you are approved to live on campus.)
  • Nazareth's Financial Aid Office will let you know if you are missing any documents needed to complete your financial aid package for the coming year.
  • Your financial aid record will show your $1,500 SPARK grant as an "outside scholarship direct to student — SPARK." The grant will not change your bill because the grant goes to your e-check account.
  • If you have questions about the status of your financial aid so this process can be completed, please email finaid@naz.edu.


SPARK Grant for Research

What's required for research to be eligible?

All majors are eligible!

For a SPARK Grant, research must be:

  • Approved and/or supervised by a faculty member
  • Conducted during the summer, on or off campus
  • Unpaid or minimal pay (below minimum wage); on-campus research that pays via a stipend or student employment isn't eligible for a SPARK Grant.

Typically National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) are not eligible because they pay a stipend.

Work with a faculty member, your career coach, and the director of Research, Scholarship, and Innovation to review the planned research experience to be sure it qualifies and to determine the appropriate course in which to enroll.

CARS presentation

Recipients of SPARK Grants for research will participate in a special SPARK Research Session as part of Nazareth's annual Creative Activity and Research Showcase (CARS) event the spring semester after the research experience takes place.

SPARK Grant for International Experience

Which international experiences qualify?
How do I make sure study abroad credits transfer to Nazareth?

Before you take courses abroad, fill out Nazareth's study abroad course credit approval form to be sure the credits transfer to Nazareth.

Can I use the SPARK Grant for trip advance payment(s)?

Because of timing, it's wise to NOT plan to use the SPARK grant as one or more of your required advance payments for an international experience. Such payments are often due in the semester or summer before the experience.

Nazareth's Accounts Payable can't receive student payment check requests any earlier than 10 days before the start of your SPARK grant experience term.

SPARK Grant for internships

What qualifies as an internship?


  • At least 5 weeks and 50 hours for 1 credit (If you are completing a 2-week program, talk with your coach about ways to extend your hours/time.)
  • At least 8 weeks and 120 hours for 3 credits


  • The internship site must be vetted/approved as meeting Nazareth standards for experiential learning
  • Experience must be supervised by a professional with expertise in the field who is willing to provide routine feedback
  • Supervisor provides (or supervisor and student provide) a clear description of the experience, including a defined beginning and end date
  • Student is able to articulate the academic or professional significance of the experience

For more, see this page for employers: Defining an Internship 

How do I find an internship?

See Nazareth's Find an Internship webpage. Also keep in mind:

  • Internships listed on Handshake are eligible for the SPARK Grant.
  • If you find a different type of experience on Handshake (part-time job, volunteer opportunity), consult your career coach.
  • If you find an internship on your own, talk to your career coach.
Am I guaranteed a SPARK-eligible internship?

Internships are typically competitive and often include an application and interview process, so they are usually not guaranteed. Work with your career coach to best understand the internship search process and put your best self forward.

Paid or unpaid? "Underpaid"?

Most internships that have an hourly paid rate are not eligible for a SPARK Grant.

But if you are "underpaid," meaning will receive less than minimum wage (such as your internship provides a small stipend, covers meals, or includes a parking pass), you are likely still eligible.

Do I have to intern in Rochester?

No. SPARK Grant experiences are not limited by geography, but must be approved by the College.

How do I know which internship course to enroll in?

Meet with your career coach to discuss options.

Can this count as the internship required for my major?

Maybe. If you are going into your junior year and the internship is approved by your faculty advisor, then it is possible. See your career coach for more information.

Can I get a SPARK Grant for a past internship?

No. SPARK Grants are not available retroactively.

What if I line up a paid internship for the summer? Do I pay for those credits?

It depends. You can use SPARK once during your eligible time period. So if you don’t plan to study abroad nor do summer research for the $1,500 grant, and you secure a paid summer internship, you could use the SPARK tuition scholarship. See Funding section below.

Does other funding exist for summer internship tuition?

Yes, only for juniors and seniors. 

For more about 2-credit summer internship scholarships for upperclassmen, see Internship Funds: Professional Internship Program Scholarships.

Summer Housing on Campus

Who can use summer housing for SPARK Grant experiences?

Limited summer housing at very low cost is available on campus for students who are not from the Rochester area and who secure a summer internship or  research experience.

Indicate your housing need on the SPARK Grant application and apply through the Nazareth housing system by the deadline.

What if my internship is paid (I'm not SPARK eligible), but I would like to live on campus?

Students who secure a paid summer internship but are otherwise eligible for SPARK can stay on campus at very low cost, if space is available.

Indicate your housing need on the SPARK Grant application and apply through the Nazareth housing system by the deadline.

What's included? What's not?


Summer housing is typically in a campus apartment or a residence hall with shared access to a kitchen. Laundry facilities are available at no charge.

Not included:

  • Meal plans are not available in the summer, and Kearney and Lourdes dining halls, Sorelle's, and Millie's are not open in the summer. Instead, plan to buy food on campus in the Cabaret or make your own food.
  • Transportation to/from internships or research is not included.

A SPARK Grant can help defray your food and/or transportation costs.

SPARK Grant funds

Is my award based on financial award status or need?

No, SPARK is independent of financial need.

How many SPARK grants can I receive?

Students meeting eligibility criteria can receive one SPARK Grant while at Nazareth.

Do other funding streams for students affect SPARK eligibility?

In general, no "double dipping" — meaning students using SPARK should not also receive other internship-specific, or trip/experience-related funding from the College, including from the Undergraduate Association, the Fund for Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE), and departmental funds.

Are there tax implications?

U.S. students: You will receive a 1099 form at the end of the calendar year and you are responsible for including it in your tax filing.

International students:

  • The U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires withholding 30% (about $450) from the grant for taxes.
  • If you do not have a green card, you must complete an IRS W-8BEN form. (See IRS instructions for that form.)
  • Later you will receive a 1042 form. Your tax implications will depend on your home country. If you have questions, contact a tax professional.
Does the 2-credit summer internship scholarship still exist?

Yes, the summer internship scholarship still exists, but it is ONLY for upperclass students (juniors and seniors).

For more about 2-credit summer internship scholarships for upperclassmen, see Register and Earn Credit.

Other questions?

Talk to your career coach in the Center for Life's Work (for internships or research) or to Nazareth's Center for International Education (for study abroad).

Kenyatta Allen used SPARK Grant for Dominican Republic semester

What will you experience?

A SPARK Grant can make great experiences possible. See what Nazareth students are doing with the funds: SPARK Stories »

Info Sheet for Internship Providers

Info Sheet for Internship Providers (and potential providers) summarizes how Nazareth can help support a student to be able to pursue an unpaid summer internship or summer research position.

Juniors and Seniors

If you're not eligible for a SPARK Grant, talk to your career coach about other potential sources of funding.