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Frequently Asked Questions

Summer Research Opportunities


What is the maximum amount that I can receive for my summer research project?

You may receive a maximum of $4800 per summer for your summer research project from all College sources. 

I will not be a rising senior in the summer, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, however, priority is given to rising seniors.  Graduating seniors are not eligible to apply.

What if I would like to go off-campus or abroad for my summer research project?

Projects involving travel off-campus or abroad are eligible for summer research funding. Depending on your proposal, you may need a letter of recommendation from the off-campus host or a letter of confirmation of acceptance into the off-campus program.  If you are going abroad, the Off Campus Study Office has additional requirements – see for more information. 

Do I have to have a program acceptance or internship secured before I apply for funding from Swarthmore?

No, you do NOT need to have your opportunity secured in order to apply for funding.  However, you should have either already applied for external opportunities or know which opportunities you will apply for.  Each opportunity or location will be it's own application - the process accounts for more than one application per student.  NOTE: if you are awarded funding based on your application, your award is contingent upon confirmation of that opportunity in order for you to receive funding.

Is there a way for me to check on the status of my application, or to confirm receipt of materials?

All applications are considered pending until applicants are notified in the middle of March.  You will receive a receipt confirmation of your materials when you upload your proposal.  Applicants will be notified if they submit an application but have not completed supporting materials.


When does the application submission link open?

Applications can be submitted starting the first day of the Spring Semester.  For Summer 2020, that will be January 21st. 

What materials will I need for my application?

Your application, a written proposal, Swarthmore faculty or staff letter of recommendation, and an outside recommendation letter if your research takes place off-campus without a Swarthmore faculty or staff member.  Note: both letters required if off-campus

What is required in my written proposal?

The title of your project should reflect the project itself.  If you are collaborating with a particular faculty member in their lab or on their project, your title should indicate that collaboration.  For students applying in the Humanities or Social Sciences Divisions, your proposal should not be more than 750 words and will be submitted as text within the application. For students applying in the NSE Division, your proposal should be 250 words or less and must be submitted in PDF format and entitled as follows:  last name_first name_class year_Summer Research Proposal summer you are applying for.  EXAMPLE:  Thompson_Susan_2020 - Summer Research Proposal 2019.

What if I would like to work with a faculty member who has either an existing project and/or external funding?

The title of your project should reflect that information.  EXAMPLE: Applying for the opportunity to work with Professor Smith.  The proposal that you submit should include a description of that project.

Do I have to submit all of my materials at once (complete the application and upload my proposal) or can I save and come back to submit?

No, you do not need to submit all of your materials at once.  You can return to the application and make edits until you click on the green submit button after all of the stages of the application are complete.  You also may upload your summer research proposal (NSE Division applicants) as many times as you need to before the deadline as each submission will overlay the previous one.  The application deadline will determine final submission so you must have all materials completed at that time.

 What is the application deadline?

The application deadline for Summer 2019 funding is February 5th, 2020, at 3:59:59 pm.

 Can I submit my application after the deadline?

No.  All application submissions, including proposal uploads, must be completed by the deadline.  Remember that supporting materials - like acceptance letters - can be submitted after the deadline.


From whom should I request my recommendation letter?

Your recommendation letter should come from a faculty member who is familiar with your proposal.  You should meet with this faculty member so that he/she is aware of your proposal and that you are asking for a letter of support.  If your proposal is to collaborate with a faculty member, the recommendation letter should come from that particular faculty member. Faculty members ask that you request your recommendation letter two weeks before the deadline.  In addition, by the time you are ready to submit your proposal, you should have already met with your faculty recommender.

 Do I have to obtain the recommendation letter from the Swarthmore faculty or staff member and submit it myself?

No. Your Swarthmore faculty or staff recommender will receive an email informing them that you have requested a recommendation letter.  He or she will submit the recommendation letter directly.  The deadline for faculty or staff recommendation letters is February 10th.

 How will my off-campus advisor submit their recommendation letter?

Off-campus advisors will submit their letters electronically through a portal.  They will receive a link in an automated email that will be generated once you name them as an advisor in the application portal.   The off-campus letters are also due on February 10th.


When will I know if I will receive funding?

Decision letters are distributed mid-March.  That letter will indicate whether you are funded or have been placed on a waitlist.

Is there a possibility that I could still receive funding after the award letters are distributed?

The division committees will have a "waitlist" of students in the event that funding becomes available. Waitlist information will NOT be shared with students.

Are there any requirements once I am awarded?

Awardees are required to complete requirements as needed and is dependent upon the opportunity.  Students not staying on Swarthmore's campus will have to complete the Travel Registry and all students will be asked to submit emergency contact information.  Any student who is attending a program or internship in the summer must provide acceptance information for that opportunity (Note: this information does not need to be secured at application time).  In addition, at the conclusion of the summer, you are required to submit a report about your summer experience.  Your summer funding will have come from one of a number of sources, possibly from outside donors who have contributed to this academic funding program.  We report to these donors annually and may share your report with them.

Is there summer housing available for students staying on campus in the summer?

Students who participate in any activities away from the Swarthmore Campus for the Summer (e.g. internship in Philadelphia, working off-campus) are not guaranteed Swarthmore On-Campus Housing.  On-Campus housing is prioritized for students completing research on-campus with Swarthmore Faculty.  Students are encouraged to communicate early with their off-site supervisors about housing options.

Students who are interested in off-campus activities for the Summer are welcome to apply for Summer Housing, and will be offered a spot should space be available. 

The following are summer housing resources onsite University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, both institutions located in the University City area of Philadelphia:

UPenn Summer Housing

Drexel University Summer Housing


What if the work I will engage in as part of my summer opportunity is considered research involving human participants (i.e., subjects) and/ or use of their data?

If you are awarded a summer opportunity and your proposed work meets the definition of human subjects research you will be required to submit an application and all supplemental materials (e.g., investigator training- CITI) through the IRBManager electronic system (see the IRB website for details) after being awarded, but no later than April 1st. Once your request is received, the IRB will begin the review process, which can take several weeks. All requests will be reviewed in the order with which they were received. 

How do I know if my project will require either Departmental or IRB review?

Departmental Review will be determined by the policy set forth by the Provost based on internal requirements which varies by department.

IRB review is required for a project/proposal if it involves both “research” and “human subjects”:

  1. Research is defined as “…a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” A systematic investigation includes, but isn’t limited to, a hypothesis, research development, testing, pilot work, and evaluation. “...Contributing to generalizable knowledge” involves an activity that is designed to develop NEW knowledge that can be applied broadly to similar groups or conditions.
  2. Human subject is defined as “…a living individual about whom an investigator obtains data through intervention or interaction, or their identifiable private information.” If you are collecting personal information about an individual, from that individual by interacting with them and/or communicating with them in some way, then the criteria for human subject has been met.

If you would like more information about these definitions of research and human subjects, please visit the IRB website or contact Jena Fioravanti at or by phone at 610-957-6150.