Marian Scholars



Immaculata High School’s invitation-only Marian Scholars Program, named in honor of Mary, the school’s patroness, is dedicated to developing these students' high level research and presentation skills on key local and global topics. The program’s goal is to foster an adventure of learning for a lifetime through the passionate pursuit of knowledge.

In addition to following a highly advanced honors and AP curriculum, the scholars work with faculty mentors, as well as Marian Scholars program coordinators, on specialized research projects and presentations and receive co-curricular enrichment through excursions, seminars, and speakers. Started in 2014 with a core of nine students, the program now includes 45 students. The Senior-Freshman mentoring initiative, piloted last year, allows seniors to gain leadership and coaching skills, while the freshmen benefit from their peers’ experience.


Qualifying 8th grade students will be invited to apply to Immaculata’s Marian Scholars Program, based on the results of the Diocese of Metuchen’s High School Placement Test. Upon applying, these applicants are reviewed by a panel of Immaculata faculty and administrators, who examine potential Scholars’ essays, middle school grades, and qualifications Additionally, knowing that some students flourish over the course of their freshman year, there is an another application period for current ninth-graders, who have been recommended by teachers for demonstrating the qualifications needed to become a scholar.

Using articles, research studies, and scholarly journals, as well as foundational and philosophical texts, students will tackle complex questions, understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints, interpret and synthesize information, and construct, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. The power of the program is that the research and topics are student-driven, teaching them to discern accurate and authentic data and facts.

Immaculata High School elevated its Marian Scholars Program by incorporating College Board’s AP Capstone™—an innovative diploma program that allows high school students to develop the skills that matter most for college success: research, collaboration, and communication. Doing so, they are now included in a group of 1,000 schools worldwide who participate in AP Capstone™ and only one of 44 in NJ.

The program consists of two courses taken in sequence: AP® Seminar and AP® Research. Developed in direct response to feedback from higher education faculty and college admission officers, AP Capstone™ complements the in-depth, subject-study of other Advanced Placement® courses and exams. What is particularly exciting about the AP Capstone™ Program is that it provides the framework for high-end critical thinking, teamwork, writing, public speaking, and cross-curricular exploration. 

In AP Seminar® using Catholic Social Teaching as the foundation, the teachers will facilitate and empower the students to conduct college level research through different lenses. Students explore contemporary topics connected to human dignity issues such as immigration, the environment, and diversity, in order to learn how to discern the validity and reliability of sources. Students in this course are challenged to examine these topics through multiple lenses while conducting college level research. The second year course, AP Research®, empowers students to deeply explore an academic topic of individual interest by designing, planning, and implementing a yearlong investigation to address their research question.


Key to the success of the program is the strong faculty mentoring relationship. Representing every academic department, the faculty mentors are an invaluable source for our scholars. The student-mentor partnership allows students to explore topics that interest them and lets the teachers share and support their passion. In their role as mentors, the teachers guide the students in their research, enhance their presentation skills, and build their confidence. On the junior-senior level, faculty mentoring supplements the support of the trio of teachers, who teach the AP Capstone classes and meet regularly one-on-one with their students.

One of the goals of the Marian Scholars Program is to provide a variety of enrichment opportunities to increase our students’ global understanding. Over the course of the year students are invited to participate in field trips, workshops and guest speaker events. Past experiences include a live surgery at Liberty Science Center, a fossil dig, plays in New Jersey and New York, a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Shakespeare acting workshop, a public speaking workshop, a guest lecture on ethics and the law, and a biomedical engineer speaking on both his job at the Hospital for Special Surgery as well as how to give a professional poster presentation.


The program crescendos to an exciting culmination with its formal symposium held in the spring. The Scholars gather their year’s worth of academic research to present to their parents, teachers, and fellow and future Scholars. Not only do they showcase their work, but they demonstrate their public speaking skills and ability to defend their theses. Starting as sophomores, they must be able to defend their research and interact with symposium guests.Marian

This year the freshmen made formal presentations on topics as diverse as group thinking in politics, handling of forensics evidence, human rights, wind impact on local communities, and the impact of radiation on astronauts. The sophomores developed poster board displays, using them as springboards for discussions with symposium guests. Among the topics they tackled were cryptocurrency, genetic immunity implications of Laron dwarfism, space pollution, and bacteria challenges. The juniors and seniors each wrote two research papers and created a multi-media presentation. They explored such complex subjects as undocumented workers, human trafficking, end of life issues, technology and unemployment, the prison system, and racism in American schools.

Recent Marian Scholar topics include:
  • The Post-9/11 Misguided Views of Muslims
  • The Potential of Augmented Reality in Education
  • The Evolution of the Second Amendment in United States Courts
  • The Ethics of Genetic Modification
  • To What Extent Does First World Media Influence Perception of the Middle East?
  • Potential Solutions to the Human Trafficking Epidemic on the Internet
  • The Future of Solar Power
  • Will Raising Minimum Wages Actually Help America?
  • How Education in Prison Affects Inmate Recidivism and Integration
  • Olfactory Dysfunction in Schizophrenia Patients
  • Bionic Eyes: Hope for the Blind
  • Technology in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
  • ECT vs. TMS in the Treatment of Depression

Please direct any questions regarding the Marian Scholars Program to the Immaculata Admissions Office at