• <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29998_8071086937_683d5a422f_o.rev.1450805230.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29999_6856950268_ed6442d1ca_o.rev.1450805264.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29997_13537953983_5cff365fc4_o.rev.1450805192.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29122_10401981_1004028349629458_8008107117841765376_n.rev.1446045049.jpg)"/>

Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

ACM Oak Ridge Science Semester

From current cutting-edge scientific research in energy and environmental issues, reaching back to its history as a pivotal element of the Manhattan Project in World War II, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is recognized as a leader in scientific and technological research.  Located in Oak Ridge Tennessee, and managed by the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, scientists and engineers conduct basic and applied research in a wide variety of fields.  As the Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory, their mission to advance the nation’s energy resources, environmental quality, and scientific knowledge provides an exciting and intellectually stimulating setting for science students looking to do rigorous research.

The Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) enables students to join ongoing investigations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in research areas as diverse as astrophysics, cell biology, DNA sequencing, genetic mutagenesis, parallel computing, robotics, toxicology, and much more. In their research, ORSS student participants use the sophisticated resources available at the Laboratory, including supercomputers, state-of-the-art electron microscopes, lasers, and analytical instruments such as a Fourier transform mass spectrometer and a scanning tunneling microscope.  Participants in this fall semester program join one of the research groups at ORNL, with a scientist from the ORNL staff serving as a mentor.  This research experience, using the Laboratory’s sophisticated resources, is the core of the program.  Students are expected to contribute significantly to the design and methodological approach of their research activity, and often find this the most demanding and rewarding experience of their college careers.

Program Type

Associated Colleges of the Midwest


Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Program Dates

Fall 2018: August to December

All dates are tentative and may change.  ACM will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must be juniors or seniors to participate
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75, with strong performance in the sciences


Whether it is a safe community, low crime, top-rated schools, parks, greenways, athletic fields, close proximity to a national park, or strong historical significance to our country, you will find it in Oak Ridge.

The City of Oak Ridge is located in the eastern part of the State, approximately 22 miles northwest of Knoxville. The City occupies a southern portion of Anderson County and an eastern portion of Roane County. Oak Ridge borders the Clinch River’s navigable waterway for 42 miles along the shores of Watts Bar and Melton Hill Lake.  


This program has 3 components:

  • Research at ORNL (8 semester hours)
  • Interdisciplinary seminar (4 semester hours)
  • OPTIONAL Elective (4 semester hours)


Students on the Oak Ridge Program devote most of their time to research, with a scientist from the ORNL staff serving as a mentor.  The seminar is intended to broaden students’ perspectives and expose them to the wide range of research carried out at ORNL by staff scientists from many fields. Seminars are designed to stimulate students to think creatively by exposing them to current scientific research processes from multiple fields.  As scientific research becomes more interdisciplinary, connections between disciplines often lead to the next wave of scientific advancements.

The seminar series also includes field trips to acquaint students with some of the research facilities at ORNL.  During the latter part of the program, the seminar usually serves as a forum for students to present their own research data for discussion and comment.

Finally, students may choose from a variety of options for their advanced course, which changes each year.  The courses offered in a particular fall semester are chosen to accommodate the needs and interests of the program participants, once they have been selected to the program.  Coursework in recent years has included areas such as organic and inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, physics, abstract or linear algebra, biology, genetics, molecular biology, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, differential equations, dynamical systems, and scientific computing. 

Options for this course include:

  • One to two classes typically taught by the resident director (a faculty member from one of the consortial colleges).
  • Two classes typically taught by faculty and staff at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • An independent study course through the student’s home college, working with one of their own faculty members, and under the supervision of one of the resident faculty.
  • A course at an area college or university, usually Roane State Community CollegePellissippi State Community College, or the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  (Note: Laboratory classes would typically need to be arranged through one of these colleges.)

For more information, please visit the Oak Ridge academics page.

Experiential Opportunities

Each student is expected to devote at least 35 hours per week to research on a specific project under the guidance of an ORNL staff scientist. This research experience is the core of the program. Students are expected to contribute significantly to the design and methodological approach of their research activity, and often find this the most demanding and rewarding experience of their college careers.

Student Life

Oak Ridge offers a variety of recreational activities that include:

 golf  rowing
 swimming  tennis
 soccer  hiking
 biking  disc golf
 basketball  billiards
 summer camps  softball

The City is home to Melton Hill Lake that is recognized as the home of the Oak Ridge rowing course.  Melton Hill Lake offers 173 miles of shoreline for boating, fishing, and rowing.  Melton Lake Greenway, one of Oak Ridge’s 12 beautiful greenways, runs along the western shore of Melton Hill Lake for people to enjoy scenic, outdoor activities. 

Housing and Meals

Housing is provided in an apartment complex in Oak Ridge. Two students share a one-bedroom apartment and provide their own linens and kitchen utensils. The housing rent (approximately $1,800/semester) is paid by the ORSS in the form of a housing allowance.

Students are responsible for their food, books and other personal expenses (estimated at $1,500).

Financial Information

For all programs, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition, though the Oak Ridge program does not have a program fee.  

Here is an estimated budget for your Fall 2018 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program Fee


Recreation fee (billed once per year)


Program Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


Program Deposit (non-refundable)






Housing Stipend (Expected)


Estimated Personal Expenses (all meals, books, supplies, personal expenses, local transportation, additional travel, etc.)


Program Stipend (Expected)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, or meals, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate.

Typically, students participating in the Oak Ridge Science Semester receive a significant stipend and housing allowance, which help cover costs of the program. The amount of both the program stipend, which is disbursed to students in periodic payments through the fall term, and housing allowance are dependent each year on adequate funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php