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 $4500 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. 

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 2018, that will be January 22nd.  The link is available through mySwarthmore.

What materials will I need for my application?

Your application, a written proposal, Swarthmore faculty letter of recommendation, and an outside recommendation letter if your research takes place off-campus without a Swarthmore faculty 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.  The proposal should not be more than 750 words (the NSE Division asks for 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_2019 - Summer Research Proposal 2018.

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 sign into the application and submit your application questions then upload your proposal document later.  You also may upload your summer research proposal as many times as you need to before the deadline.  However, the application deadline will determine final submission so you must have all materials completed at that time.

 How do I account for the financial aid summer earnings requirement in the budget for summer research?

There is a line item on the budget form in the application that allows you to enter your summer earnings requirement amount.

 What is the application deadline?

The application deadline for Summer 2018 funding is February 7th, 2018, 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.


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.

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

No. Your Swarthmore faculty recommender will receive an email informing them that you have requested a recommendation letter.  He or she will submit the recommendation letter directly.

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

Off-campus advisors must send their recommendation letter to Debbie Thompson via email at  Please remind them to include your first name and last name in the letter.


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?

Yes, you are required to sign a ‘Release of Liability’ form.  In addition, at the conclusion of the summer, you are required to submit a report which describes the work accomplished.  Your summer funding will have come from one of a number of sources, possibly from outside donors who have contributed to the 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?

Yes, but summer housing has a application process.  Please make sure to check the summer housing information that is available on the website.


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 Shawn Lehmann at, by phone at 610-957-6150, or visit the IRB office at Parrish E208.