Summer Research Program


GSAS-Leadership Alliance Summer Research Program

Program Dates: May 31 - August 1, 2015
Final Columbia Application Deadline: Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Columbia GSAS application is now closed. Check back in late 2015 to apply for the following summer's program.

Program Overview

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences hosts the eight- to ten-week Summer Research Program (SRP) for undergraduates from groups that have been historically underrepresented in academia. Participants conduct graduate-level research under the supervision of a Columbia faculty mentor, approximating the graduate experience through exposure to the mentor/advisee relationship, scholarly research opportunities, and independent living.

The aim of the program is to foster a deeper knowledge of the field in question, to hone skills that are necessary for success in doctoral study, and to encourage students to pursue academic careers.  The SRP does not offer preparation for the professional schools (e.g. business, education, engineering, journalism, medical, law, and social work).

The Summer Research Program began at Columbia in 1989 and is hosted in conjunction with The Leadership Alliance, a consortium of 32 institutions of higher learning that has a mission of helping underrepresented students develop into outstanding leaders and role models in academia, business, and the public sector.

Read a recap or download the event program from the 2015 SRP Symposium.


The Academic Journey

Faculty and Research

Each student will undertake a discipline-appropriate summer research project in collaboration with an assigned faculty mentor. Many will find themselves integrated into ongoing research, working closely with faculty and graduate students.

Weekly Seminars and Workshops

Beyond research, SRP students take part in a number of other professional activities, including weekly seminars and workshops, symposia, and a number of group events both on and off campus. These include tutorials on the graduate school application process, oral presentation for conferences, and the Scholarly Journey series, in which advanced Columbia graduate students, faculty, and professionals with doctoral degrees share their intellectual biographies, offer advice, and discuss opportunities in academia and the private sector. During the weekly seminars, students have ample opportunity to discuss their research projects.


Meetings with staff and mentors provide an informal setting for discussions of varied topics such as the nature, rewards, and challenges of a research career in academia or the private world.


Students present their research to faculty, graduate students, and administrators at the Columbia Symposium. Students also attend the annual national Leadership Alliance Summer Symposium.

Participating Departments

In recent years, research internships have been available in the following departments or disciplines of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:


Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Biomedical Sciences

See the Biomedical Sciences website for an overview of biomedical programs and more information on departments, Ph.D. programs, and subfields.

Costs and Fellowship Information

There is no charge for the program, and no application fee. Students accepted for the Summer Research Program will receive the following:

  • Accommodations: Housing is provided on Columbia's Morningside Heights campus for the duration of the program (May 31 - August 1, 2015).  All SRP students are required to reside on campus while enrolled in the program.
  • Transportation: Reasonable travel costs to and from Columbia University up to a maximum of $500 are covered, if necessary.
  • Stipend: Students receive a stipend of $5,000 to cover living expenses.
  • Meals: No meal plan is provided, but all weekly meetings, seminars, workshops, and special events are catered.

Information for C3-LADO Students

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences welcomes applications for the Summer Research Program from students in the Creating Connections Consortium (C3) and students from Liberal Arts Diversity Officers Organizations (LADO) institutions.

Undergraduate institutions in the C3 are Middlebury College, Williams College, and Connecticut College; a list of LADO institutions is available on the C3 website.

How to Apply

The GSAS-Leadership Alliance Summer Research  Program (SRP) seeks talented undergraduate students who have a passion for scholarly or scientific research and demonstrate academic promise in research and/or teaching in the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Applicants may apply for the Summer Research Program using either the Leadership Alliance application or the Columbia GSAS application. GSAS will review all applications from either source, but preference will be given to applicants who complete both applications (note that the applications have different deadlines, listed below).

Application Deadlines

  • Leadership Alliance: Sunday, February 1, 2015
  • Columbia: Sunday, February 1, 2015

Eligibility Requirements

The program seeks college students who have a passion for scholarly or scientific research and demonstrate academic promise in research and/or teaching in the sciences and selected disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Applicants must:

  • Be entering their junior or senior year in fall 2015
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a 3.0 grade-point average (GPA) or higher
  • Show potential for doctoral study in proposed field; transcript should demonstrate course work in proposed area of research.
  • Belong to a group historically underrepresented in academia and have therefore overcome challenges or hardships related to race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic background, family history of post-baccalaureate opportunity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Note: Columbia University and Barnard undergraduates are not eligible for the Columbia GSAS summer program, but may apply to other Leadership Alliance sites if they meet the Alliance’s criteria.

Columbia GSAS Application Materials

Applicants must complete the online application, which entails submission of the following materials:

  • Statement of purpose (see guidelines below)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Official academic transcript(s) for all colleges attended
    • If you are unable to upload an official transcript to the GSAS online application system, you may upload an unofficial transcript.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty

Note: If you have also applied to the Summer Research Program through the Leadership Alliance application, please note that, in order to complete the GSAS online application, you must upload all of the requested documents and list the names of your recommenders—even if you have already provided this information through the Leadership Alliance application. You will not be able to complete the GSAS online application until you submit all required application materials.

Guidelines for Statement of Purpose

Please provide a statement of purpose that is no longer than three typed, double-spaced pages. In your statement, please address the following:

  1. What is your motivation for applying to the Summer Research Program?
  2. Discuss your previous research or academic project(s):
    • An issue/question you examined and its significance
    • Methodology you used
    • Findings and their significance
  3. Discuss your proposed area of research. Indicate prior experience with the research topic(s), if relevant, or how it is connected with your overall research interests.
    • Natural Science Students: You may indicate three labs at Columbia (see the list of departments above) in which you would like to conduct research, and explain how working in these particular laboratories relates to your research interests or experience. (Note: Program administrators make the final determination of laboratory placement and use student preferences to help guide this decision.)
    • Humanities and Social Science Students: You should try to identify the GSAS departments and subfields (see department list) that most closely match their research interests, and suggest one or more research topics.
  4. Describe your future education and/or career goals and explain how participation in SRP is relevant to these goals.
  5. If you have applied to Columbia through the Leadership Alliance, the Columbia application offers you a chance to elaborate on the reasons that you chose Columbia University as one of your three preferred research sites.

In 2015, the Columbia GSAS Summer Research Program will focus on the research areas listed above. Students are also advised to contact the GSAS Office of Academic Diversity ( prior to the deadline to discuss their applications.