Summer Research Programs
Participating in a structured summer program can be an excellent way to gain exposure to research. These programs vary widely, and can be found in a range of disciplines (particularly the natural and biomedical sciences) across the country and around the world.
Summer programs often bring together a small group of students from different universities who live together in student housing, participate in intense mini-courses in their disciplines, attend faculty research seminars led by researchers in the sponsoring department, and work with a researcher to carry out a project. These programs engage students in pre-existing projects that significantly enhance their research skills.
CURF maintains a list of summer programs (see left). While we strive to keep this page updated, new programs are being developed each year, so students seeking a structured summer program should use online resources to identify opportunities, contact faculty in their area of interest, and consult with CURF about programs in specific fields.
Summer internships are another excellent way to gain deeper insight into a field and to lay the groundwork for conducting research. More common in the humanities and social sciences, these often entail hands-on team-based learning working for an historical, social science, archival, or arts organization. The College of Arts and Sciences and CURF co-sponsor a number of intense Humanities Internships at Penn and in the Philadelphia area.
Community service, social change, non-profit work or paid internships are not typically considered research but can be very valuable learning experiences, often forging connections with potential mentors and sparking ideas for a research project.
Many other summer internship opportunities exist in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere, and students should begin their search as early in the academic year as possible. Since deadlines for applying to summer programs are usually in February, use Winter Break to explore your options.
Career Services maintains the Penn Internship Network, offering connections to current Penn students who have recently completed internships.
Another resource is the series of Career Fairs offered throughout the year by Career Services, at which employers and summer program representatives visit campus.
Professional Associations often maintain lists of summer opportunities as well as contact information to learn more about opportunities in a field.
If you’re considering graduate study, Penn has an active Graduate Undergraduate Mentoring Program that can connect you to a current graduate student to learn from their experiences.
A CURF Research Consultation can also prove valuable as you seek to make the most of your summer experience.