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Research Opportunities

Penn undergraduates in the classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 are eligible to apply for research funding through Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF). CURF research funding supports undergraduates from any Penn school conducting independent research in any field under the guidance of a Penn faculty member. Students considering applying for a research grant should speak with potential faculty research mentors well in advance of the March 14 deadline, since application materials (including faculty recommendation letters) are due electronically to CURF by 4:00pm on Wednesday, March 14.A partial list of research opportunities is listed below. Students should check the CURF calendar ( for other upcoming research deadlines. Unless otherwise noted, all grants are open to students in any Penn school.

Grants with March 14 deadlines:


Grants and Fellowships for Penn IR Majors

  • The IR department has research grants available for Penn IR majors who would like to conduct theoretical or practical research. These grants are primarily meant to support senior thesis research, though other relevant or meaningful research in other seminars, courses, or independent studies that would apply to a Sigma Iota Rho member's major credit will be considered. An electronic version of the proposal must be submitted to the IR office by October 1 for the Fall, February 1 for the Spring, or May 1 for the summer. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis as well if funds remain available. For more information and a copy of the application, please click here.
  • IR Alumnus Ivana Vasic-Lalovic and her colleagues on the student group EuroPenn Executive Board have made a generous donation to the IR Program for the purpose of funding an overseas internship in Europe. IR majors whose concentration focuses on an aspect of European international relations are eligible to apply. These funds are to support unpaid internships in Europe or other research opportunities related to a student’s academic program, including thesis research. Recipients are encouraged to become a member of EuroPenn and work to promote events co-sponsored by the IR Program and EuroPenn.  For more details on how to apply, contact Dr. Plantan:
  • The Penn Washington Semester Program is a semester long program for Penn undgrads interested in learning political and governmental processes by interning and taking courses in Washington, DC. The WSP is suitable for students who have a serious interest in public policy, politics, and government. Majors include political science, economics, humanities, and a number of others. The program features three to four course units of study (which can include an independent research project) and a work assignment in an organization or agency related to the student's career and research interests. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn about political and governmental processes by interning and taking classes in this nation's capital. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so apply as soon as possible. For more information, contact Dr. Deirdre Martinez or Dr. Eileen Doherty-Sil.
  • The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program which provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia. The program is unique among American-Asian exchanges in that it is intended for young leaders who have had limited experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia. Those who already have significant experience in Asia or Asian studies are not eligible for the Luce Scholars Program.
  • Luce Scholars have backgrounds in virtually every field other than Asian studies, including but not limited to the arts, journalism, law, medicine, science, public health, environmental studies, and international relations. Candidates must be U.S. citizens who, by July 1 of the year they enter the program, will have received at least a bachelor’s degree and will not have reached their 30th birthday. Luce Scholars candidates are nominated by the University of Pennsylvania.
  • The Critical Language Scholarship Program, sponsored by the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, offers intensive summer language institutes overseas in thirteen critical need foreign languages each year. CLS institutes provide fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks for U.S. citizen undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. students. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue study of their language beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. Languages include Arabic and Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu: Beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; Chinese, Japanese, and Russian: Intermediate and advanced levels. Countries may include: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or others where the target languages are spoken.
  • The Princeton in Africa program offers opportunities for service through yearlong fellowships with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent. Applicants should be recent graduates or graduating seniors committed to Africa's advancement. Prior experience in Africa is not a prerequisite.
  • The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive scholarship offered to current juniors planning careers and graduate study in public service. Students must be chosen for nomination by Penn.
  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellowship funds 8-10 one-year fellowships in Washington, D.C. for uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. They are selected from a pool of nominees from participating colleges. Carnegie Junior Fellows work as research assistants to the Endowment's senior associates. Those who have begun graduate studies are not eligible for consideration.
  • The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program offers twenty (20) graduate fellowships each year to outstanding seniors and graduates who want to join the Foreign Service. These fellowships help finance two-year graduate programs, provide paid internships and other professional development activities, and facilitate entry into the Foreign Service for individuals who are able to complete the Foreign Service entry requirements. The Rangel Program also accepts 15-20 undergraduate students to participate in the six-week Summer Enrichment Program that prepares global-minded undergraduate students for careers in international affairs. Both programs are competitive and seek applicants with a strong academic background, a commitment to service and an interest in making a difference in the world around them.The Rangel Program is managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University and funded by the U.S. Department of State.The fellowship is open to undergraduate seniors and graduates who want to begin two-year master’s programs in the fall of 2012. Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship, plans to enter graduate school in fall 2012, and a minimum 3.2 GPA. The program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need.
  • The Boren Scholarships Program, funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), provides up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin American, and the Middle East. Boren Scholars study less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili.Applicants should identify how their study abroad program, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to U.S. national security. NSEP draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness. For assistance on filing an application, contact Penn's on-campus representative, Dr. Barbara Gorka.
  • For a complete list of fellowships and their application requirements, consult CURF's Fellowships Directory.