Oak Ridge Science Semester in Oakridge, Tennessee (ACM)

Program Dates:

This is a Fall semester only program running from late August until Mid-December.

This program is currently paused for the duration of 2023 -2024.

Where: Oakridge, Tennessee

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) multi-program laboratory focusing on national and global energy and environmental issues. It is located in Oak Ridge, TN, near Knoxville. Located in the Cumberland Mountains of East Tennessee, the city of Oak Ridge did not exist until 1942. Opened to the public in 1949, Oak Ridge is now known throughout the world for its scientific research and development in energy, nuclear research, materials, and medical and environmental research with a population near 27,310.


The Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) enables students to join ongoing investigations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in research areas as diverse as astrophysics, cell biology, DNA sequencing, genetic mutagenesis, parallel computing, robotics, toxicology, and much more. Students spend 40 hours per week at the lab, including their research internship and interdisciplinary seminar. During the research component, students conduct research on a specific project under the guidance of an ORNL staff scientist. In addition, students are required to participate in an interdisciplinary seminar and may choose an optional advanced course taught by the Visiting Faculty Director  on the Pellissippi State Community College campus or select an alternative course from PSCC’s course offerings for the semester, subject to availability.


Upper-class majors in biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics are eligible. Each year, Allegheny College will nominate one-two students maximum to ORSS and ORSS retains final approval of the applicant. The program is primarily designed for seniors, but juniors who give evidence of the capacities demanded at Oak Ridge may be considered. Applicants must have grade-point averages of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, both overall and in their majors.

Housing & Student Life

Students will share an apartment with one or more roommates.  Students will live in apartments near the Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC) campus in the Hardin Valley area of Knoxville, Tennessee. Transportation is available on weekdays between PSCC and ORNL. Students may also bring their own vehicle if they choose.

Fees & Costs

Students are charged Allegheny tuition, fees (including $300 off-campus fee).  Students participating in the ACM ORSS receive a stipend for their internship, subject to available funding. Students are responsible for arranging and covering their travel to and from Oak Ridge, linens, kitchen utensils, food, books, and other personal expenses.

Application Process

Allegheny students must first be approved to study off-campus before applying to their chosen program. Applicants for this program must submit a nomination letter from the Chair of their major and the campus faculty representative for this program (Professor Rachel O’Brien) with their application package. Deadlines to submit the approval packet are February 20 for the program.. For more information about the application process visit the web at: http://sites.allegheny.edu/offcampus/application/ .