Austin Scholars

Austin Scholars

Leadership Through Service

Merrimack College’s Austin Scholars Program is a close-knit community rooted in the tradition of St. Augustine, bringing together students who are passionate about leadership, service and community.

Learn More About the Austin Scholars!

Merrimack Austin Scholars Are Leaders On and Off Campus

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Earn a minor in Religious and Theological Studies

Austin Scholars students only need to take one additional Religion and Theological Studies class, outside of the 4 classes they already take through the Austin Scholars program, in order to earn a minor in Religion and Theological Studies.

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Total Service Hours from Fall 2022-Spring 2023

During the 2022-2023 academic year, Austin Scholars delivered 5,682.5 service hours across 26 different sites around Merrimack College.

Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies the worth of a volunteer hour as $31.20. Therefore, Austin Scholars contributed approximately $176,142 into the Merrimack Valley in the 2022-2023 academic year.

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Total majors represented in the Austin Scholars population

Members of the Austin Scholars program are represented across all 5 schools at Merrimack and encompass over 40 total majors.

What does this mean? ANYONE can be an Austin Scholar! 

Austin Scholar Benefits

On and Off-Campus Events

A large piece of community life, beyond the dormitory experience, is the many social events offered throughout the year like trips to Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox games.

Austin Scholars Specific Housing/ RA's

First year residential Austin Scholars live in preferred suite-style housing with dedicated upperclass Resident Assistants.

Religion and Theological Studies Minor

Many Austin Scholars declare a Religious & Theological Studies Minor by taking one additional RTS class, in addition to the Austin Scholars classes that they take their first and second year.

Academic and Spiritual Formation

Austin Scholars welcomes students from all faith traditions & perspectives. Austin Scholars have the opportunity to take part in several spiritual retreats offered throughout the year, pilgrimages to Italy and international conferences in Colombia, Tunisia and Rome.

Commuter Student Support

Our Austin Scholars communter students, or "Scholars on the Go," have their own specific commuter peer mentors to provide support and community.

Make Friends

We make up approximately 10% of Merrimack’s Community (100-125 freshmen per year) and provide a built-in support system across all four years.

Personalized Attention & Support

Austin Scholars classes fulfill core curriculum requirements, with dedicated Austin Scholars Faculty, Peer Mentors, Tutors and additional study sessions so that students have the best chance at success.

Austin Scholars Lounge

St. Augustine Center is the Austin Scholars' dedicated lounge located in North Residential Village. Students are encouraged to use the space for collaborative group work, individual study sessions or just hanging out with other Austin Scholars in between classes.

Austin Scholars Spotlights

A female Austin Scholar from the class of 2024 stands smiling with the Merrimack College logo next to her.

"Since joining Austin Scholars I have grown into a leader through joining the Austin Scholars Outreach Program. This program has taught me a lot about responsibility and accountability. I think that Austin Scholars is special because of the likemindedness of the members. Austin Scholars is centered around community service and each member cares a lot about this."

Gracie O'Leary '23

Legislative Aide in Massachusetts House of Representatives
Majors: Criminology/Criminal Justice and Religion and Theological Studies

Austin Scholar Molly Kueter from the class of 2024 sits smiling next to the Merrimack College logo.

"I have grown a lot through the Austin Scholars, but especially in leadership by

pushing myself to apply for new opportunities within our program! Our community is what makes Austin Scholars special! It is so unique to have a separate group of people with similar values."

Molly Kueter '24

Majors: Criminology/Criminal Justice and Human Development and Human Services

The admission office actively recruits prospective students that are passionate about community service and show strong leadership potential (in any major) to join the Austin Scholars Program.  

Learn Together, Serve Together, and Live Together!


In the first two years, Austin Scholars take one class together each semester. These reflection-based courses fulfill Merrimack’s core curriculum requirements and incorporate service-learning reflection. Students may participate in special projects like a previous year’s Stations of the Cross project.

Austin Scholar tutors and teaching assistants provide peer support, in addition to the classes led by Austin Scholar faculty members.


You’ll serve in the community for two hours each week. You’ll choose from a variety of local organizations, and Merrimack will provide your transportation to and from the service sites. The service-learning component of Austin Scholars encourages you to develop leadership skills by serving those in need in our community. Upperclass Austin Scholars may also fulfill their service through a wide array of servant-leadership opportunities on and off campus, such as in internships and practicums, and as peer mentors, teaching assistants, service trip leaders, retreat leaders and more.


The Austin Scholars “live community.”

If you choose to live on campus, freshmen Austin Scholars live together in Monican Centre. The suites include two bedrooms, a shared common room and a full bathroom. Upperclassmen live in the South Residential Village.

All Austin Scholars have access to the Austin Scholars lounge in the St. Augustine Center where students meet with fellow Austin Scholars, grab a snack and study.

What You'll Do as an Austin Scholar

Open to residential and commuter students, the Austin Scholars cohort is available throughout all four years at Merrimack. It is also the oldest existing living-learning community on campus.

Inspired by St. Ambrose of Milan, who motivated, mentored and challenged St. Augustine as a young adult, members of Merrimack’s Ambrose Society will be asked to explore the many ways in which they serve as leaders among peers at Merrimack and beyond.

Freshman Year
Residential first year Austin Scholars live together in Monican Centre. The suites include two bedrooms, a shared common room and a full bathroom. First years take one class together each semester and serve in the community for two hours each week (18 hours per semester). You’ll choose from a variety of local organizations, and Merrimack will provide your transportation to and from the service sites
Sophomore Year
Residential sophomore Austin Scholars live in South Residential Village with other Austin Scholars upperclassmen. Similar to Austin Scholars first years, sophomores take one class together and serve in the local community for two hours each week. Sophomores have the opportunity to hold leadership positions within the program through the Austin Scholars Executive Board, serving as peer tutors for the first year Austin Scholars' classes or being an Austin Scholars Resident Advisor.
Junior and Senior Year / The Ambrose Society
The Ambrose Society is an opportunity for Junior and Senior Austin Scholars' students to deepen their commitment to the pillars of the Austin Scholars Program. Ambrose Society members are not required to live in specific housing cohorts, instead students are encouraged to deepen their understanding of community through leadership and service on campus and in the classroom. Unlike the first and second year Austin Scholars, Ambrose Society members fulfill their service commitment through community engagement/ leadership opportunities such as being peer leaders for the Austin Scholars program, leading retreats through Campus Ministry, being leaders in on-campus clubs or organizations or taking part in an internship/co-op.

Austin Scholar Events

Our students participate in a wide range of activities and events that reinforce and demonstrate the values of the Austin Scholars program. A large piece of community life, beyond the dormitory experience, is the many social and spiritual events offered throughout the year. Social events include:

  • Boston sports games
  • BBQs and class dinners
  • Trips to Fenway Park
  • Austin Scholars Olympics
  • Annual Christmas party
Academic and Spiritual Formation

Austin Scholars enjoy special programming that serves to widen their perspectives of the world. Our annual Augustinian of Note Lecture invites international scholars to engage with students both academically and spiritually. Additional programming has included commissioning Masses on campus, pilgrimages to Italy and international conferences in Colombia, Tunisia and Rome. These experiences provide life-changing opportunities for students in our program.

Retreats, both on and off-campus, provide spiritual and relational growth. We’ve sponsored retreats in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where participants all stay in a house off campus and enjoy reflection, relaxation and home-cooked meals. 

Collegewide Events

Austin Scholars also engage in collegewide service events. Many participate in Mack Gives Back, an annual event in which members of the Merrimack community perform service projects in the Greater Merrimack Valley and beyond. Our Scholars also join in Merrimack’s Service Recognition Night which highlights students’ community service. Senior class members who have completed four years of service at Merrimack are inducted into the Father John McKniff, OSA, Honor Society, in recognition of their contributions to the campus and greater community.


Can I choose my service site?

Yes! You pick a service site from a diverse group of organizations that we work with around the greater Merrimack Valley area. We make sure you have a broad range of fulfilling experiences and opportunities to choose from. Transportation to service sites is provided by Merrimack and you will typically be volunteering with at least one other student or a small group of other Austin Scholars.

What are the responsibilities of volunteers at their service sites?

Students serve in a variety of roles including:
• English tutors and conversation partners
• Homework help
• After-school play and supervision
• GED preparation and support
• Financial and health coaching
• Bingo, crafts etc. with adults in nursing facilities and independent housing

Can I still be an Austin Scholar as a commuter student?

Absolutely! All Austin Scholars—commuter or resident—are invited to Austin Scholars events and have access to the Austin Scholars Lounge, a comfortable space where students meet with fellow Austin Scholars, grab a snack and study during the day.

Admission into the Austin Scholars Program

The Austin Scholars Program is open to students of any major!

Qualifying students have been invited to join the Austin Scholars Program in their admission letter. To accept this offer, please visit your admission portal and submit your non-refundable enrollment deposit. If you haven’t been invited to join the program already, please do so with the button below.