Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility and Research Projects
Our program is quite large (approximately 70 students were funded from a variety of sources in 2018), so we do not have a listing of research projects available prior to the program. Applicants may find it useful to refer to our Participant Profiles and to look at the research of individual faculty associated with each funding source to find areas of interest.
Most of our funding for the program is provided by the National Science Foundation, which requires participants to be Citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States. The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Rowland Institute at Harvard do not carry that restriction. International students will only be considered for projects funded by the Wyss and Rowland Institutes.
If you are an international student, you may find this link on obtaining the appropriate visa useful:
http://www.hio.harvard.edu/visa-types. Please note that if you are not already in the United States on an F-1 visa, the process for obtaining a visa can take as long as 2-6 months.
Faculty or researchers must be associated with one of our funding sources. Among research groups that are associated with the various funding sources, we have more faculty who are interested in hosting students than we have capacity each year – therefore, all official offers for the REU are made through the Office of Educational Programs. If a faculty member or researcher tells you that he or she will host you in his or her research lab, it is not a guarantee of REU funding.
First, complete and submit your application. Ask people who know you well to write letters in support of your application. Second, apply to other programs at Harvard. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has compiled a list of all summer intern programs based at Harvard, at https://gsas.harvard.edu/diversity/outreach-programs.
Much our funding is from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which in many cases strongly encourages grant recipients to reserve the majority of NSF-funded REU spots for students coming from outside the home institution. This approach gives students the opportunity to experience research environments at different universities. We encourage you to explore these opportunities external to Harvard for yourself, particularly if you are interested in graduate school. If you would like to stay at Harvard for the summer, we strongly encourage you to apply for sources of funding and support that are sponsored by Harvard in addition to applying for REU funding. We have had many students sponsored by HCRP or other Harvard funds participate in our REU activities. Please see these links for potential funding sources for your summer research:
• Program for Research in Science and Engineering (PRISE) – deadline mid-February
• Harvard College Research Program (HCRP) – deadline late March
• Faculty Aide Program (matches faculty funds, submitted by faculty) – deadline mid-April
Please note that the REU has many program elements and weekly meetings – if you are selected for and accept REU funding, you are committing to be a part of our SEAS REU community and participate in these activities. Therefore, if you receive a PRISE award, we do not award REU funding, since both programs have substantial commitments outside of research.
Also see this helpful link about Funding Your Summer Research.
Application and Selection Process
Some programs use a committee to select the students who will be in the program, and then match the students either in the spring, or at the program start. Our program’s process is a little different. Once our applications have closed and all applications are reviewed for completeness, we open our application database to faculty who are interested in working with a student during the summer. As soon as a student is selected, an offer with a short project description is made to the student, and the mentor(s) are copied on the email. Students are given 1-2 weeks to respond. Once the student accepts the offer, we will send official paperwork. This process sometimes takes more time, especially for a program of our size. We try to notify students by early May at the latest regarding their status in the program.
If you have any questions during the selection window please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as soon as possible. No phone calls, please.
Last year, we funded ~70 students out of a pool of approximately 1000 applicants. This year, we anticipate funding about the same number of students.
Yes. We like to give recommenders some extra time to complete their letters, but please note that we cannot begin reviewing your application until all materials have been submitted.
When you login to your application, you are able to click Edit. From here, click on the Register Recommenders tab and you can check the status and resend the request email if necessary.
We begin making offers in the second week of March, and try to notify students by early May at the latest regarding their status in the program. Offers are made as soon as research mentors send their selections to our office for review.
We do not make offers until after the application deadline so that all applicants have an equal chance. If you have a pending offer, please email us and we will put a note on your application with the date on which you must notify the other program. Please note that this does not guaruntee that we will have a decision for you.
Program Details and Expectations
Our program dates are June 8 – August 15, 2020, and are set by housing availability. We will not have housing for students outside of these dates. For students on the trimester or quarter system, we have, in the past, had students start a few days late or take exams here at Harvard with a proctor. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the research group hosting the student.
The stipend will be $5000 for the 10 week program. We also provide up to $350 for travel to/from the program.
Yes, interns will be housed on the Harvard campus, a 10-minute walk, or a short ride on public transportation, from most laboratories. Housing is provided free of charge.
Students will most likely be living in Winthrop House in single or double rooms in suites with shared bathrooms. We will provide one microwave/fridge combination for each student. Please note that there are no kitchen facilities available to summer interns. Rooms are not air-conditioned.
We do not provide a meal plan. The laboratories and residence halls are very close to many inexpensive restaurants and grocery stores, and we provide meals at all workshops and talks.
Research and professional development activities associated with the REU will keep you busy. Summer courses are a significant time commitment. Therefore, we do not allow REU students to take classes during the program. Likewise, part-time jobs are not allowed.