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Summer Research Program Information for Students

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Applications for summer 2023 are closed. Applications for summer 2024 will open in December 2023.

About the Program

two Summer Research Program students and their mentor measure plants in the forestThe Harvard Forest Summer Research Program in Ecology is an 11-week immersive research experience connecting undergraduate students to mentors and researchers in the pursuit of scientific inquiry.

This paid internship opportunity includes a $6,600 stipend, full room and board, and travel to/from Harvard Forest.

Harvard Forest is located in the small town of Petersham, Massachusetts (1.5 hours west of Boston).

How the Program Works

Every fall, research mentors from Harvard Forest and collaborating institutions develop summer research project descriptions for students to choose from when they apply to the program.

A research project is made up of a collaborative research team with multiple students and mentors, all working together to address an overarching research question.

During the summer, our main goal is for participants to work within that larger context on their own project, building their skills and independence in the research process.

The program culminates in a symposium of student presentations (explore 2022 Symposium abstracts).

a group of 20 summer students sits at tables eating lunch

Our holistic view of the program is a 3-legged stool:

  • Research: Work collaboratively to solve environmental problems using scientific methods. A day in the woods measuring trees, or a day at the computer analyzing sensor data

  • Education: Bridge from student to scientist: build marketable skills, learn how to use and understand data. Morning workshop on R programming language, afternoon seminar by visiting researcher

  • Community: Join scientists at a world-class research hub to expand your network. Contribute to meal set-up, have dinner with a seminar speaker, attend a festival with fellow students

 See summer highlights on our student blog.

Applying to the Program

We encourage applications from students who are enthusiastic about participating in a collaborative, hands-on learning environment. Significant past experience in ecological research is not required, although some projects may have specific requirements (see project descriptions for listed requirements).


  • The Harvard Forest Summer Program is open to undergraduates from 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities.
  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens. See FAQ for details.
  • Harvard requires COVID vaccination for all Harvard community members. Information about this requirement and exceptions:

Applications are due by Feb. 3, 2023 9:00a.m. ET. Late/incomplete applications will not be accepted. NO EXCEPTIONS! You will be notified by email upon submission of your application and after each recommendation is submitted.

Application Requirements: Print out an Application Checklist to assist you in the process. 

The online application has multiple sections. You are advised to save your application as you move through the sections as to not lose any work. All sections must be completed prior to submission deadline for your application to be considered.  

     • Two References: It is strongly recommended that the referee information be completed and submitted as soon as possible to allow referees time to complete their recommendations.
2. Personal Information
3. Academics
4. Summer Program
     • Project Selection: choose upto 4 projects from the list provided in the order of preference.
5. Other Information (this section is required, but answers will have no bearing on your application)
6. Upload Files
     • Resume: DO NOT include transcripts
     • Essay: 250 words maximum essay describing your educational and career objectives, science background, and expectations for a successful summer experience
7. Submit Application

NOTE: If you are having trouble uploading an attachment, please contact Attachments sent via email will NOT be accepted/considered. 

Selection process

Applications will be reviewed in February. Soon thereafter, mentors will contact top candidates for an interview.

All applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection by mid-March.

A group of summer students and mentors works in computers at a table

Contact & Questions