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Summer Research Program Information for Students

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Our 2021 summer research program will be VIRTUAL. Program Dates: May 24 - August 6

The application portal is now closed.

Applications due February 19 at 9:00am ET

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.

For the 2021 virtual program, this paid internship opportunity includes a $9,350 stipend, inclusive of support for living and home office expenses.

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 2019 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 all U.S. institutions.

  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens. See FAQ for details.

How to Apply

Applications are due by Feb. 19, 2021 9:00AM EST. Late/incomplete applications or recommendation letters 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 late February. Soon thereafter, mentors will contact top candidates for an interview.

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

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

Contact & Questions