Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility and Research Projects
Our program is quite large (approximately 70 students were funded from a variety of sources in 2019), 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.
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 email@example.com and we will respond as soon as possible. No phone calls, please.
We typically fund about 40-75 students out of a pool of approximately 1000 applicants.
You are able to submit your application before your recommendation letters have been submitted. We do not have a strict deadline for recommendation letters, as we like to give recommenders some extra time. 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 after the application deadline has passed, 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 guarantee that we will have a decision for you. No phone calls, please.
Program Details and Expectations
The Summer 2024 program will run from Monday, June 3 (move in day) to Saturday, August 10 (move out day).
We often have students who are not able to arrive on the move in date. Arriving a few days late is not an issue and we work with housing to let them know when you will arrive. We will also help get you any information you miss during orientation. If you need to arrive a week or so later, we will discuss this with your mentor to make sure that you will have enough time to complete your project or if there are any readings or trainings you can complete before you arrive.
We provide a stipend of $6000 for the 10 week program.
On-campus housing is provided.
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.