Frequently Asked Questions for Summer Institute Participants

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SI Health Insurance

Q: Will my participation in SI allow me access to UMN Summer Health Insurance?

A: Yes, you will indicate in the SI Participant Application Form if you need UMN Summer Health Insurance. Your options are: 1) July-August coverage; 2) no summer coverage. 

Q: Do I need to pay for UMN Summer Health Insurance during SI?

A: No, your summer coverage during SI will be paid for by your graduate program. This does not include the cost of copays or other costs associated with the coverage, which you will be responsible for.

Q: Am I required to live in the Twin Cities area to receive UMN Summer Health Insurance?

A: Yes. UMN Summer Health Insurance can only be used for campus health services, therefore it is not of any use outside of the Twin Cities area.

Q: Will my regular, academic year UMN Health Insurance be affected by my choices for UMN Summer Health Insurance?

A: No. You will sign up for your regular, academic year insurance in an entirely different process. As we get closer to the Fall semester, watch for emails in your UMN email account on how to sign up for or decline UMN Health Insurance for the academic year.

Q: Where do I find information about the summer or academic year UMN Health Insurance plans?

A: You can learn about academic year UMN Health Insurance plans from the Office of Student Health Benefits. There are two types of graduate student health insurance: the Student Health Benefit Plan (this is what is provided during Summer Institute) and the Graduate Assistant Health Plan (for those who will serve as graduate assistants, fellows, and trainees). 

Q: May I add UMN Summer Health Insurance for my dependents?

A: Yes, you may notify us and contact the Office of Student Health Benefits if you need to add dependents to your summer coverage; however, you will be responsible for the cost of coverage for dependents. Dependent coverage fees are due at the time of enrollment and paid via card or check. You can find the costs for dependents on this page under Cost > in the Students tab > under Summer Term.


Q: How do I go about finding an SI Faculty Mentor?

A: You will be responsible for identifying and contacting the faculty with whom you wish to work with during SI. There is not an existing list of SI Faculty Mentors to choose from, but you can work with your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC), or other graduate program faculty you have been in contact with for help in identifying a good SI Faculty Mentor for you. The faculty you contact may or may not be familiar with SI. It may be helpful for you to share with them the Info Sheet for Programs and Departments; the information for Faculty Mentors starts on page 2.

Q: Does my SI Faculty Mentor have to be my Advisor, or a faculty I plan to do rotations with?

A: No. The goal is for you to work with a faculty member in your program or department who 1) has similar research interests as you; and 2) will be available to work with you during SI. This may be your faculty advisor, a faculty you plan to do a rotation with, or someone else entirely, it is completely up to you.

Q: What if the faculty I hoped would be my SI Faculty Mentor is unavailable during SI?

A: We suggest that you work with your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC), or other graduate program faculty you have been in contact with for help in identifying a good SI Faculty Mentor for you.

Q: What do I do if my SI Faculty Mentor turns out to not be very available or accessible during SI?

A: Unfortunately this happens in graduate education sometimes as some faculty mentors and advisors may be too hands off and difficult to reach for making important deadlines. If your SI Faculty Mentor is not very present during SI and is not giving you enough direction to perform your research project, we recommend that you cc Maija Brown, ( in an email to your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to see if they or another faculty member may be more available to support you. If you are unable to get the support you need from your program or department, you may choose to perform a literature review (or relevant document for your field) of a research idea you have for a future project.


Q: Who are the SI Peer Mentors?

A: The SI Peer Mentors are SI alumni who are current UMN graduate students.

Q: When will I know who my SI Peer Mentor is?

A: The SI Peer Mentors will be assigned their SI Mentees (their SI Mentor Family) after the SI Registration deadline has passed and all SI Participants are set. The Peer Mentors will then send email messages to their Mentees to introduce themselves in late-May or early-June.

Q: What are the SI Mentor Families?

A: SI Mentor Families are small groups consisting of one Peer Mentor and their Mentees. The Mentor Families are in close communication during SI and participate in activities in their small group at various times during SI.


Q: What are the dates of SI 2024?

A: SI will occur July 8 - August 23, 2024. As we get closer, we will send you a link to the SI Canvas course site. 

Q: Is the entire SI Orientation mandatory?

A: Yes, it is very important that you attend the full SI Orientation.

Q: Are SI Weekly Sessions mandatory to attend? Will they be recorded if I need to miss them?

A: Yes, all SI weekly sessions are mandatory. Because the sessions are mostly in person and discussion-based, they will generally not be recorded so that participants may speak vulnerably without worry about who else may see what was said. In a rare instance, we may record a Zoom session if we deem it absolutely necessary. In such cases, we will inform all participants that the session is being recorded.

Q: Are SI Social Activities mandatory?

A: Yes, though there will be some choices offered for when you attend them. For instance, the Tuesday weekly social activities occur once in the morning and once in the afternoon. SI Participants must attend either the morning or afternoon time each Tuesday, or they may choose to attend both times. In another instance, Mentor Families schedule their own activities together. So they are not pre-scheduled and they are mandatory to attend. Finally, there may be some optional social activities that are not mandatory, and they will be clearly announced as optional.

Q: Are the Practice Presentations in Weeks 6 and 7 mandatory?

A: No. Practice Presentations during week 6 and 7 are not mandatory; however; we strongly encourage students to sign up for a time slot if they desire feedback.

Q: Is it mandatory to attend everyone’s Final Presentations in Weeks 6 and 7, or do I just attend my own? 

A: Yes, it is mandatory to attend all the Final Presentations in both Weeks 6 and Week 7.

Q: What are my mandatory time commitments outside of what is listed on the Tentative Schedule?

A: Outside of the Tentative Schedule, you must plan to: 1.) Schedule time to meet with your Faculty Mentor and work on your Research Project on a weekly basis during Weeks 2-6. The amount of time you dedicate to your project and meetings with your Faculty Mentor is to be determined by you and your Faculty Mentor. 2.) Schedule at least 1 one-on-one meeting with your Peer Mentor. 3.) Your Peer Mentor will schedule times with your full Mentor Family for social activities outside of the larger group. 4.) Manage your time to complete all SI assignments listed in the SI Syllabus.

Q: What if I have a schedule conflict in which I cannot attend a mandatory session, activity, etc.? 

A: At the start of the program or as soon as you know about the conflict, you must request an excused absence from Maija Brown ( Typical excused absences include mandatory graduate program orientations or meetings, being sick, doctors appointments, etc. Unexcused absences, excessive tardiness, or excessive absences may result in a deduction of your SI stipend. Think of SI as your summer job and the stipend as your paycheck for showing up and doing your work. 

Q: What if an emergency comes up in which I have to miss something that is mandatory?

A: If an emergency arises and you must miss something mandatory unexpectedly, contact Maija ( for an excused absence as soon as the emergency subsides and you are able to do so. 

Q: Will there be any online events or activities this year?

A: For accessibility, we plan to offer 1 of the Tuesday mandatory social activities online and 1 in person. SI Participants will have the option to choose one or both. Due to scheduling, some panels may be offered online or in a hybrid format.

Q: Is it ok to work in a job or to take courses during SI, and it is reasonable to do both at the same time?

A: While it is not a requirement that you not work in a job or that you not take courses during SI, it is highly recommended not to do so during SI. SI is quite time intensive and you are paid the stipend so that you will not have to work at the same time. If you take a course that does not conflict with the time of mandatory SI events, it may be possible to try, but you must also consider the time spent on reading and writing assignments outside of class time that can be time consuming. It is very uncommon for SI Participants to work full time or take courses during SI.


Q: How will the SI Stipend be paid?

A: For this SI stipend, you will be entered as vendors in the University of Minnesota system. Your stipend will be disbursed as checks in 3 different installments and handed out in person at the Summer Institute. Direct deposit and mailing out checks will not be available.

Q: When will the SI Stipend be paid?

A: The amount paid will vary somewhat depending on which fellowship you are coming in with. Most SI Participants will be paid a total of $4,000 over 3 installments during SI. The first payment typically arrives during SI Orientation Week, for example, (July 8, 2024) and will include the first $2,000. The next 2 payments (July 29 and Aug 23) will include approximately $1000 each.

Q: Is the SI Stipend taxed?

A: Yes, your SI Stipend, as well as your fellowship, is taxable income. The University does not report this income on your behalf and it is not taxed before you receive it. This means that you must report your funding on your income taxes and you will need to pay taxes on it at that time. This is the most information on taxes we are allowed to provide as representatives of the University. Please see the Office of Human Resources page on Taxable Graduate Fellowships for more information. If you have questions, you should contact a professional tax advisor or the UMN Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VTAP).


Q: What are the expectations for my SI research project with my Faculty Mentor?

A: The goal of the research project is to give you experience conducting research at the masters or doctoral level and in your new program. You are not expected to complete a full research project from start to finish. You may join an existing/ongoing research study, begin the first steps of a new research project, perform a literature review for potential future research, etc. Ultimately, you need enough experience to write a short (~3 page) paper and give a short (~10 min) presentation on the work you’ve done during SI.

Q: If research in my graduate program/department needs to happen on campus in a lab, am I allowed to participate in my research project in person?

A: Yes. If your graduate program is performing research in person, and they are taking all necessary sanitization and mask-wearing precautions, you are allowed to participate in research in person as an SI Participant.

Q: What are the SI Assignments and where do I learn more about them?

A: There are 4 main SI Assignments and some smaller assignments or projects. We will provide an SI Syllabus with full details of all SI Assignments as we get close to the start of SI. Models of previous SI Participants’ work will be available on the SI Canvas course site. 

  • 1.) Individual Development Plan (IDP) for your first year in graduate school
  • Research Project with Faculty Mentor:
    • 2.) Annotated Bibliography
    • 3.) Research Proposal (~3 pages)
    • 4.) Final Presentation (~10 minutes)

Q: Where do I submit my SI Assignments?

A: All SI Assignments must be uploaded to the SI Canvas course site. We will provide the link to the SI Canvas course site as we get close to the start of SI.

Q: Will the SI Assignments be graded and will we receive feedback?

A: Not by SI. Because SI Participants are in a wide variety of research fields with a diverse array of writing expectations and subject matter expertise, SI Staff do not grade nor provide feedback on SI Assignments. For ungraded feedback on SI Assignments, SI Participants will share their work with their SI Faculty Mentor (someone who is in the same research field). This ungraded feedback is extremely important as it 1.) helps you learn to navigate the feedback process with graduate faculty in your program, and 2.) because most SI Participants utilize the work they do in SI as first drafts for later projects, fellowship applications, conference proposals, etc. Think of SI Assignments as low-stakes practice for performing high quality work in your graduate program.

Q: What happens if I can’t complete my assignments on time? 

A: For various unexpected reasons, SI Participants are sometimes unable to complete their assignments on time. Those who cannot complete their assignments on time must notify Maija ( to work out a timeline for completion. SI Participants must also notify their SI Faculty Mentor that they will be seeking their feedback on assignments at a later date.

Q: What if my graduate program has a mandatory orientation during the Final Presentation days in Week 7?

A: If you must miss the Final Presentation days in Week 7, you will complete your Practice Presentation and Final Presentation in Week 6. To do so, you must seek an excused absence from Maija ( at the start of SI.

Q: Will my SI Faculty Mentor be present for my Final Presentation?

A: Optional. It is your choice if you would like to invite your SI Faculty Mentor to attend your Final Presentation. If you invite them, you must make clear your presentation time slot as Faculty Mentors are not to attend other SI Participants’ presentations, only yours.

Q: What is the community engagement component?

A: All SI participants are encouraged to complete 6 hours of community service over the course of the academic year. SI Staff will identify opportunities for community service with partnering organizations, or SI Participants may choose another organization with whom they wish to complete their service. 


Q: Can you help me in my search for housing in the Twin Cities?

A: No. As representatives of the University, we cannot endorse any rental companies, neighborhoods, etc. We can, however, point you to the UMN Housing and Residential Life page for graduate students. You may also reach out to the Peer Mentors after they have been introduced for their experiences on housing in the Twin Cities. Otherwise, it is recommended that you contact current students in your graduate program for their advice and experience with housing options.

Q: Do I need to pay student fees for the summer I participate in SI?

A: No. SI students are set up as vendors and not enrolled in courses and therefore will not have student fees for the summer. However if you independently choose to enroll in a summer course you will then be responsible for paying fees.

Q: How do I set up and start using my UMN Account and Email?

A: The first step is to initiate your account to get your UMN Internet ID (the first part of your UMN email address before “”) and create your account password. You will need your student ID number for this, so contact us if you don’t have it yet and we will provide it to you. The second step is to activate your UMN email and sign in with your new password. The third step is to sign into Canvas at, using your same account login information, and accept the Canvas user agreement.

Q: Will I be able to get my UMN Student ID Card while in SI?

A: Yes. You can stop by the U Card office anytime 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday with a government issued photo ID to get your U Card. We recommend that you upload your photo at least a few days ahead of time - this ensures that you get a photo you like and that the card is printed before you arrive. 

NOTE: If you get your U Card after we enter you in the payroll system for SI (mid- or late-June), your U Card may be inappropriately labeled as a staff ID instead of a student ID. It will grant you the appropriate student access you need to things, but you may need to pay to replace your card with an appropriate student card after you have enrolled in fall courses. So we recommend that you upload your photo to have your card printed before we enter you in the payroll system, as you can pick up your card anytime-even months after uploading your photo.

Q: Will I be able to access the UMN Libraries while in SI?

A: Yes. You will have access to the University Libraries during your time in SI. You will need to sign into the Libraries website using your UMN account login to access the online system. 

Q: Will I be able to access the UMN Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) Center during SI?

A: Yes. You can access the Recwell Center if you purchase a membership (as a non-fee-paying student during the summer a membership is not automatically granted to you). Students will need to go in person to the RecWell Minneapolis facility to purchase their membership, reference the Summer Institute list (we have provided them your names on a list), and present a photo ID or U Card at the time of purchase.