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Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Division Opportunities FAQ

The College supports independent research, when discipline appropriate, as well as research in collaboration with Swarthmore faculty and/or outside scholars. Students may submit proposals for the following types of opportunities: laboratory, field, archival and/or desk research; unpaid internships; creative arts; intensive language study; engaged scholarship; academically-informed activism; work to support an honors preparation; research leading to a thesis. These opportunities are eligible for funding through the Academic Division.

Students seeking funding may receive a maximum of $6,000 total per summer from all College sources. Graduating seniors are not eligible for funding, but rising seniors, juniors and sophomores are eligible. Note: priority is given to rising seniors.

Applications where the student's proposed work meets the definition of human subjects research, will be required to submit an application and all supplemental materials (e.g. investigator training - CITI certification) either through the full Institutional Review Board process or through a Departmental review (for eligible departments) process, after being awarded. Once requests are received, the review process will begin. Processing of these applications may take up to a month, so you should submit your proposed work for review as soon as possible. Awarded proposals will not receive their funding until all requirements, including IRB approval, are complete. For more information on the IRB, its deadlines, and/or definitions for these requirements, please see the IRB website.

General Application Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

Rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores are eligible to apply. Priority is given to rising seniors. Please note, graduating seniors are not eligible.

When does the application submission portal open?

For Summer 2024, applications will open on January 22nd. You will need to sign into the portal using your Swarthmore single sign on.

What materials will I need for my application?

All applications will need a narrative proposal, a Swarthmore faculty or staff member recommendation, and a PDF copy of your transcript. Instructions on how to request a copy of your transcript from the Registrar's Office can be found here.

What is the role of my recommender?

Your faculty recommender will be the person who will complete a form that will be viewed along with your application by the committee(s) determining funding. In addition, your recommender will serve as the reviewer for your final report should your application be funded.

Is there a word limit on my narrative proposal?

Yes, there is a word limit for every proposal. Length varies depending on Division, but the portal will signify how long your proposal can be.

What should my narrative proposal contain?

Your narrative is reviewed by a faculty committee to determine whether or not to fund your application. It should include a description of the opportunity you're pursuing, and how it relates to your academic program/goals.

If I’m applying for an external opportunity, do I need an acceptance to submit my application?

No, external acceptances are not required at the time of application. If you do have an acceptance before Swarthmore’s application deadline you are able to include that in your application as well. If you are awarded funding, you will be asked to provide an acceptance letter for your opportunity during the acceptance stage.

If I’m applying to multiple external programs, how should I list my location?

In your Risk & Compliance form there is a section to input multiple locations depending on the programs you are applying. Please note that if you are awarded funding, you must confirm one single location during the award acceptance stage.

What if I want to work with a faculty member who has an existing project?

Be sure to discuss your plan with your faculty recommender. If you are working directly with a faculty member, your proposal title should reflect their existing project and your narrative should include a description of that project.

What constitutes an independent project?

An independent project primarily benefits you, the student, and not the College or an individual faculty member. Independent projects should be student-led and created, but may be done in consultation with a faculty mentor for guidance.

If I am undocumented, what types of projects can I participate in over the summer?

Undocumented students can participate in non-employment based opportunities (NEBOs) during the summer. Visit the Sanctuary Committee's College-Funded Summer Opporutnities website for applicable types of projects.

Do I need to submit all of my materials at once?

No, you can save your progress in the portal and make edits until you submit your application. You cannot edit your application once you’ve submitted by the deadline.

When is the application deadline?

For Summer 2024, applications are due on February 13 at 3:59:59 pm.

Can I submit my application after the deadline?

No, all required application materials must be completed by the deadline. See Question 3 in the section above for required materials.

Is there a way for me to check the status of my application?

All applications are considered pending until applicants are notified in mid-March. You can view your application anytime in the portal, but you are not able to make changes past the deadline.

What recommendation do I need?

All applicants need a Swarthmore faculty or staff recommendation. Your recommender should be familiar with your proposal, so you should meet with them to discuss your summer plans and application well before the application deadline. Faculty or staff members will receive an email with instructions on how to submit their recommendation ahead of the February 15th recommendation deadline. This recommendation will not be in the form of a letter, faculty members will recieve an emailed link to complete a form asking them specific questions like:

  • In what capacity do you know the applicant?
  • What contribution will the proposed project make to the student's Swarthmore education or to the faculty's own research?
  • How coherent (well-planned) is the project?
When will I know if I will receive funding?

Decision notifications are sent via email by mid-March. That email will indicate whether you are funded, placed on a waiting list, or will not receive funding.

Is there a waitlist?

Yes, there is a waitlist in the event funding becomes available. A student’s position on the waitlist will NOT be shared with applicants.

I've been awarded funding, how do I submit my award acceptance materials?

All required award materials will be submitted through the same application portal. Students will be notified via email of any deadlines for requirements and are expected to complete all items before receiving stipend payments.

Are there any contingencies once I am awarded?

Yes, and all applicable contingencies must be met before payment can be made. 

The following items are required for ALL awardees:

  • Award Acceptance Form
  • Budget Submission Form
  • Report at the end of the summer describing your opportunity

NOTE: Your summer funding will have come from one of a number of sources, possibly from outside donors who have contributed to the program. Before sharing with donors your report will be reviewed by your faculty recommender. We report to these donors annually and may share your report with them. Reports are due the first Friday of the Fall Semester.

Additional Requirements/Contingencies (if applicable):

  • Travel Registry - if traveling outside the contiguous 48 states in the summer
  • External Acceptance Recommendation or Document - for any summer project that is not on Swarthmore’s campus (with the exception of Swarthmore faculty-led summer projects that take place off campus). External Acceptances must include the following: your name as the person being accepted, date of acceptance, dates/duration of experience, contact name for the individual (first and last name) with the program, program name (if applicable), and an email address for the individual should someone need to be contacted.
  • Minor Clearances
  • Research Compliance/Committee Approvals: Institutional Review Board (IRB/Departmental Review) for research involving human subjects, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for research involving vertebrates, Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) for research involving biohazards.
How will I receive my payment for my summer award?

Payments will be sent to you mid-May at the earliest, once all requirements are met. Direct deposit is the fastest way to receive payment. The College will withhold a portion of your stipend until you have completed your final report at the beginning of the fall semester and it has been reviewed by your faculty recommender.

Am I eligible for summer housing on campus?

Yes, students who have received a summer opportunity from the College receive priority status for summer housing reservations so long as all steps in the process are completed in a timely fashion. Failure to apply for housing in a timely manner may result in lack of summer housing availability or may result in you being placed on a housing waitlist. Visit the Summer Housing Website for more information.