How to Apply

Guidelines on How to Best Approach the Different Elements of the Application:

Abstract (100 words or fewer)

Be as concise and clear as possible—you will have space to go into detail in the project proposal. Here, you just need to communicate the big picture. Be sure to avoid jargon and unexplained acronyms. The object of the abstract is to prove to the committee that you understand your project well enough to explain it in simple terms to a broad audience.


The big thing to keep in mind is that the information should be relevant to the opportunity. Highlight any previous research experience, and think about how you can pitch your existing experience (including coursework, jobs, and internships) so that it highlights your skills as a researcher.

Short Answer Questions

Be honest and straightforward. A good strategy is to choose specific incidents and structure your answers around those—like you’re telling stories about your work.

Project Proposal (750 words or fewer)

Be specific. Be reasonable. Be feasible. Describe the theory, question, or argument you plan to explore; your data and methods; how you have prepared for the project (such as relevant coursework); where it will take place; and what your responsibilities will be for each stage of the research. Make sure to include the final outcome of your research (such as a paper for publication, the literature review for your senior thesis, a series of performances, or a documentary film). The more concrete you can be about your project, the more believable your proposal will be.

For the 2021 competition, we are asking students to outline any necessary changes to their research plan if it has to be conducted remotely.

Letter of Collaboration

This letter is essentially a work contract, co-authored by you and your faculty mentor. It should describe the ways your interests and those of your mentor overlap (such as why you are working together), a timeline of events for the project, a description of the means of advising or mentorship (such as regular meetings or collaborative lab work), and expectations for all members involved (including, if applicable, grad students or postdocs).

Two Letters of Recommendation

These letters should come from people who know you well and can speak to your ability to pursue the project you describe in your application. Usually, these letters come from faculty who are directly familiar with your ability to conduct independent research. Letters from former/current supervisors and faculty who taught you in introductory courses are also welcome--these letters should emphasize your preparedness for the challenges of independent research (for instance, your independence and initiative, and/or your writing and critical thinking skills). Character references are not useful. Please remember that neither recommendation can come from your faculty mentor or someone directly associated with your lab. Letters should be sent directly to


Your unofficial transcript is fine.

Other Documentation

If you are working with human subjects, you need to indicate that you’re working toward Institutional Research Board (IRB) approval. If you are travelling internationally, you need to have a letter of support from an affiliated institution in your destination country.