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Research & Grad School Preparation

Opportunities for Research & Scholarships in Political Science, Law & International Affairs

How do you figure out what to do after UH?   And how do you find resources to support those next steps?  There are many small and large programs designed to help students find out about post-graduate studies, and to help them pay for it.  Selection criteria that may include some combination of academic excellence, personal background, and future plans. For instance, UH and many other universities and institutions offer paid summer research opportunities available to UH students who may be considering graduate studies.  Most of these programs are for students who apply no later than the fall or spring of their junior year.  

Below is a sample of programs; if you are interested, don’t stop with this list – explore the Web, and you are likely to find additional opportunities. And if you are considering applying, talk to one of your professors about this as soon as possible –the earlier you start working on an application, the stronger it will be. 

FREE! Summer Workshop in Applying to Graduate Schools

Purpose: Summer & fall program to help UH seniors who are applying for high quality Master's and Doctoral programs in political science, public policy, international relations, and public administration. This FREE program for UH students increases students' likelihood of getting admitted to programs of their choice with good scholarships, and teaches skills that will boost academic success in post-secondary studies.  Successful participants are also eligible to be considered for a scholarship to help with GRE costs.   For details, contact Professor Patrick Shea in the UH Political Science Department. If you are considering applying for grad school in fall 2017, please contact Professor Shea as early as possible so that he can keep you updated on application deadlines for this and for other related opportunities.

Opportunities for Students Considering Advanced Degrees

PiSigmaAlpha scholarship (the Political Science Honor Society):
Purpose: For graduate study (MA or PhD) in political science; $2,000
This year's deadline: Check website
Requirements: PSA membership, active participation in PSA, nomination.  For information on how to join the UH Pi Sigma Alpha chapter, contact Professor Beth Simas Marcinek. ensimas@Central.UH.EDU
National Science Foundation Graduate Scholarships
Purpose: To support students pursuing doctoral studies in science fields, including political science.  Can apply in senior year, prior to grad school acceptance, or in first two years of grad school.  $32,000 per year for 3 years, plus tuition. 
This year's deadline: Check website
Requirements: need strong statement of what you hope to achieve in grad school, ambitious and interesting plans, evidence of good preparation
State Department Internships (summer and other times ot f year)
Purpose: boost interest in foreign service careers by giving hands-on experiences in US consulates or in State Dept in Washington DC; special interest in diversifying participation.
This year's deadlines: Check website
Contact: UH Diplomat-in-Residence John C. Roberts, PGH 413; e-mail jrobert8@central.uh.edu
Rieser Fellowship for Undergraduate Research in Science and Security Policy
Purpose: $4000 fellowship for undergraduate doing research in this area
Past deadline: Check website
http://thebulletin.org/leonard-m-rieser-fellowship
Ford Foundation Scholarships
Purpose: diversifying college/university faculties by supporting minority students pursuing doctoral studies in all fields. Can apply in senior year, prior to grad school acceptance, or in first two years of grad school. $24,000 per year for three years.
This year's deadline: Check website
web site: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/FordFellowships/PGA_047958
APSA Minority Recruiting Service registration
Purpose: To help graduate schools identify minority students and students interested in minority political issues who might be a good fit for their programs.
How to self-register: register any time, information given to grad programs twice a year
web site: https://apsa.wufoo.com/forms/for-faculty-and-students-msrp-enrollment/
APSA Minority Fellows Program
Purpose: primarily for seniors who are applying for graduate school, or first year graduate students. Provides networking opportunities, and limited scholarships for those who do not get funding from their graduate schools.
This year's deadline: Check website
http://www.apsanet.org/mfp
American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
Purpose: encourage diversity, support students with an interest in public service. Description of past scholars: "These exceptional recipients have overcome adversity, proven themselves through academic success and public service, and demonstrated the tenacity to excel within the profession." 20 scholarships awarded in 2014; 3 years, $5000 per year.
This year's deadline: Check website
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/diversity_pipeline/projects_initiatives/legal_opportunity_scholarship.html
Rangel Program International Affairs Graduate Fellowship
Purpose: aims to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy. Selects 30 outstanding Rangel Fellows annually and helps support them through two years of graduate study, internships and professional development activities, and entry into the Foreign Service. Encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need.
Application process: Check website
http://rangelprogram.org/index.cfm?session.areaid=2&contentid=672&typeid=CBRIAP92223

UH Opportunities

UH SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
Purpose & benefit: 10 week independent research program; $3500 stipend.
Last year's deadline: March 28, 2016
What you will need: independent project proposal (may be working with faculty member in area of his/her interest), faculty member who agrees to sponsor you and work with you
http://www.uh.edu/honors/undergraduate-research/uh-research/surf/

UH PURS (Provost's Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
Purpose: Juniors and Seniors participate in a research project in spring semester. Receive $1000 stipend.
This year's deadline: April 22, 2015
http://uh.edu/honors/undergraduate-research/uh-research/purs/index.php

 

Research Opportunities

Summer Opportunities

APSA Ralph Bunche summer institute
Purpose & benefits: summer institute for students who are considering graduate studies in political science, for minorities and those interested in conducting research on issues affecting minorities. Expenses and stipend paid.
Last year's deadline: January 16, 2015 (announced 2 weeks in advance, on Dec. 20)
Place to watch for information: http://www.apsanet.org/rbsi

American Bar Foundation Summer Research Diversity Fellows in Law and Social Sciences
Purpose: For students interested in pursuing graduate studies in social sciences. Last year $3600; located in Chicago. For sophomores and juniors
Last year's deadline: Feb. 15
http://www.americanbarfoundation.org/research/Fellowshipopportunities/SummerResearchDiversityFellowshipsinLawandSocialScience.html

Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Institute
Purpose: 8 week summer research institute for underrepresented groups in academia. Some programs specifically for Humanities and Social Sciences. Programs at 22 universities. Apply to up to three host universities. Receive room and board and stipend.
This year's deadline: Feb 1
http://www.theleadershipalliance.org/Programs/SummerResearch/ApplicationInstructions/tabid/304/Default.aspx
Example of Stanford program:
https://web.stanford.edu/dept/humsci/cgi-bin/gus/content/diversity-summer-research

Berkeley Summer Research Opportunity Program
Purpose: 8 week program for students who have been educationally or economically disadvantaged and who may not have had exposure to a research university.
Deadline: Feb 1, 2015
http://diversity.berkeley.edu/srop

UC Riverside Summer Mentoring Program
Purpose: To increase diversity of students pursuing doctoral degrees in California universities
http://graduate.ucr.edu/msrip.html

Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program
Purpose: 6 week program for students with interest in pursuing a career in International Affairs, held at Howard University, for students from under-represented backgrounds
Deadline: Feb 3, 2016 for summer 2016
http://www.rangelprogram.org/index.cfm?areaid=2&contentid=690&mcontent=y&typeid=CBRIAPSEP

Mellon Scholars Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia's Program in African American History
The Mellon Scholars Internship Program is a four-week summer program (June 6 through June 30, 2016) that provides potential scholars of early African American history with experience in original archival research, guidance on applying to graduate school and developing research agendas, and exposure to the work of research libraries. Interns will be rising seniors or recent college graduates and will receive a $1,500 stipend and an allowance for room, board, and travel to and from Philadelphia. Application deadline: March 1, 2016. (Note: 2 UH students participated in this program last year.)
http://www.librarycompany.org/paah/fellowships.htm

SROP Various Universities
Purpose: promoting diversity in higher education, for students seriously considering graduate school for research degrees. All STEM fields. Search under SROP for more information.
Example: University of Iowa; University of Maryland
Deadlines: applications open Dec. 1 and close March 6, 2015
http://ogi.grad.uiowa.edu/srop/home
http://www.bsos.umd.edu/diversity/summer-research-initiative

Rutgers Undergraduate Summer Institute (RIse)
Purpose: primarily for under-represented groups, for science and engineering, including social science
Deadline: Nov 1, rolling admissions, selection starts mid-Jan
http://rise.rutgers.edu/riseinfo.php#eligibility

PPIA Junior Summer Institutes
Purpose: 7 week summer program to prepare students for graduate study and careers in public and international affairs. Goal is to encourage more diverse perspectives in public service, including from economically disadvantaged. Institutes held at 4 universities. Small stipend and costs paid.
Deadline: November, 2015
http://www.ppiaprogram.org/ppia/what-we-do/junior-summer-institutes/junior-summer-institutes/

ICPSR Summer Internship in Social Science Research

Purpose: 10 week program includes training in data management, problem analysis, summer grad-level courses in statistics.  $4,000 stipend.
Deadline: Jan 31, 2015

http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/content/ICPSR/internship/

Some Application Tips

Preparing your application portfolio

Whatever you apply for you are likely to need:

  1. Transcript
  2. Letters of recommendation. Best letter writers: they know you well, you got a good grade in their classes. Co-ordinate and communicate with your letter writers. Approach them early so they have time to write a good letter. Let them know your "story" for this particular application.
  3. Personal statement. Tailor it to application, and to what this committee will be looking for. The web page is likely to tell you their criteria for evaluation. In some cases, they care most about your community engagement. In other cases, they are more interested in why you became interested in research, and what you would like to do with research skills. Make it easy for the evaluation committee to understand how you fit what they want to support.
  4. C.V. tailored to application. That doesn't mean making things up. It does mean: think about which items belong on page 1. What you put at the top may vary, depending on whether you are applying for a scholarship, an internship, a research institute, etc.
  5. Start working on all of these early. Write multiple drafts.
  6. Get help.
  7. Things that grad school or research institute committees generally look for:
    1. academic preparation (good grades; have you taken research classes or done research?)
    2. is there a good fit between your aspirations and their program?
    3. Background, particularly activities and histories that fit with your stated aspirations.
    4. enthusiastic and detailed recommendation letters from professors who are themselves active researchers, and/or who can say something like "xx is one of the best students I have taught in 10 years, and is comparable to my previous student y, who earned a doctorate/law degree at ____ (fill in the blank). If you want to get good letters when you are a senior, when you are a junior you should think about who are your professors, and how are they going to get to know you.

How to Write a Better Application

  1. Transcript
  2. Letters of recommendation. Who are the best letter writers? They know you well, you got a good grade in their classes. If you are applying for an academic-type opportunity, your letter writers should be your professors, not pastors, friends, co-workers. (But non-academics might be the best references for different types of positions). In general, the best letter writers are ones who can speak about your abilities in areas that are essential for success in the activity for which you are applying. Co-ordinate and communicate with your letter writers. Approach them early so they have time to write a good letter. Let them know your "story" for this particular application.
  3. Personal statement. Tailor it to application, and to what this selection committee will be looking for. The scholarship/fellowship web page is likely to tell you their criteria for evaluation. In some cases, they care most about your community engagement. In other cases, they are more interested in why you became interested in research, and what you would like to do with research skills. You can sometimes get a sense of what they are looking for by the profiles they write of past recipients. Your application and personal statement should help the evaluation committee to understand how you fit with areas THEY want to support.
  4. C.V. This should be tailored to application. That doesn't mean making things up. It does mean: think about which items belong at the top of page 1. What you put at the top may vary, depending on whether you are applying for a scholarship, an internship, a research institute, etc. A C.V. for a job may look very different than a C.V. for law school or grad school.
  5. Start working on all of these early. Write multiple drafts.
  6. Get help. Ask professors, fellow students, other people who have jobs/positions/fellowships that are like the ones you want to get.
  7. Things that summer research scholarships or graduate school committees generally look for:
    1. academic preparation (good grades; appropriate courses showing a clear interest in the subject area; research preparation -- have you taken research classes or done research?)
    2. is there a good fit between your aspirations and their program?
    3. background, particularly activities that fit with your stated aspirations.
    4. enthusiastic and detailed recommendation letters from professors who are themselves active researchers, and/or who can say something like "xx is one of the best students I have taught in 10 years, and is comparable to my previous student y, who earned a doctorate/law degree at ____ (fill in the blank)." If you want to get good letters when you are a senior, when you are a junior you should think about who are your professors, and how are they going to get to know you.