Earn and Learn this summer!

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If you are still trying to decide what to do this summer, consider a paid academic research placement. Graduate and some professional schools favor students who have had research experience in the discipline the student is pursuing, the more the better. Doing research with faculty mentors can lead to better letters of recommendation and better insights into how to choose the right graduate program. While this can include working with a Brooklyn College faculty member, doing research at another site as an undergraduate can improve your chances for getting into the best graduate and professional programs.


Fortunately, to recruit students to their graduate schools, many excellent universities offer the opportunity to do research with a faculty member over the summer. These programs typically pay you a stipend, as much as $4000-5000 for the summer, and typically provide funding for housing and travel as well. The shortest ones are 6 weeks and the longest around 10 weeks.


Each year, the NIH MARC program at BC creates a searchable database of many summer externships, posted at: http://www.sci.brooklyn.cuny.edu/research/. You can search by school (pull down menu) or by discipline (search box). If you type in “National Science Foundation”, you will get the url for a site at http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm where you can also search all the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate programs as many are not included in our database. If you are in the sciences and some social sciences, check that link out as well.


Please note that we do not have any more information about these programs than what appears here. Do not contact us about any specific program’s information. You have to contact the program through the contact person or info listed and do your own searching. If a link is broken, email louiseh@brooklyn.cuny.edu and we will try to fix any broken links.


Some tips on using this resource to best advantage:


  • Start as soon as you can, as many of the most competitive programs have deadlines in January and February. You will need letters of recommendation and faculty may not be around during the winter break, so we recommend you check with the professors you would be asking to find out whether they can write you a letter if you need them before next semester. There are plenty of options for later applications as well, but most are no later than March or April.


  • Most applications request a transcript, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose (to explain your interest in the field, describe prior research experience, and explain your academic goals in the field; it’s not a personal history, despite being sometimes called a “personal statement”). If you have never written one of these, the url http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/ links to one of the many websites with tips on writing the personal statement. We suggest you always have someone experienced read your statement before you submit it.


  • To use the database, type in the name of an academic discipline or subdiscipline or a specific school, and hit “submit” to see what matches your interests. The majority of these opportunities are in the sciences. Search on the discipline or topic of interest. It helps to start with broader search terms and work down to more specific ones. Try several means of searching. The descriptions provided by the programs are used and these are not standardized.


  • In areas outside of science, try searching on terms like “humanities” or “arts”. There are fewer of these, but there are some great programs in the database for non-sciences and social sciences.


  • There has also been an increase in programs specifically for students interested in medicine (search “medicine”, “premed”, “dental”). However, if a program says it is for students interested in “research degrees” or Ph.D’s, students who have medical interests will be screened out, so consider this as you choose where to apply.


  • The placements in the database are mostly academic or governmental. If you want a business or professional internship, you should contact the Magner Center.


  • Some listings indicate they are primarily for “under-represented” students, but this term is being broadened, so it can include students who are the first in their families to go to college, or from low-income circumstances, or with disabilities, so be sure to read  carefully what students are eligible to apply for each. It never hurts to email to ask if you are eligible.


  • There are programs for students at all undergraduate levels, including freshmen. Some programs have minimum gpas or other considerations. These are listed with each entry. If nothing appears, the information we had did not include this information, and you should check with the program.


We have had many students do these summer externships and have had wonderful experiences that have expanded their horizons and improved their credentials at the same time they have earned a stipend that pays more than many summer jobs. We would like more Brooklyn College undergraduates to have this experience. Good luck!


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