Summer Travel Grants and the Undergraduate Associates Program

For Harvard undergraduates only.

The Weatherhead Center holds an annual competition to award fifteen to twenty travel grants to support the summer field research of Harvard undergraduates. These grants are designed to help finance travel in connection with senior thesis research on international affairs. All grant recipients become Undergraduate Associates of the Weatherhead Center for the year following their summer research and present their research findings at a conference organized by the Center in February of their senior year.

Projects must relate to the core research areas of the Center, broadly defined to encompass international, transnational, global, and comparative national issues that may address contemporary or historical topics, including rigorous policy analysis, as well as the study of specific countries and regions outside the United States.

Applicants must clarify how their research relates to the interests of the Center. Projects that are exclusively domestic (relating merely to characteristics internal to any single country) and that lack broader international implications will not be funded.

Student program funds come from the Williams/Lodge International Government and Public Affairs Research Fund, the Hartley R. Rogers family, the Weatherhead Foundation, the Maurice and Sarah Samuels family, Weatherhead Center Advisory Committee member Adele S. Simmons, and Advisory Committee Chair Kenneth I. Juster. Rogers Family Research Grants provide funds for students who plan to conduct thesis research in Africa and the poorer countries of South and Southeast Asia. In addition to providing funds for the expenses of thesis research, Rogers Family Research Grant recipients who are on financial aid receive funds that substitute for the requirement of summer work earnings.

For those focusing on Canadian topics, please see the page on the Center's grants for thesis research in Canada.

Undergraduate Associate

All summer travel grant recipients and Kenneth I. Juster Fellows become Undergraduate Associates of the Weatherhead Center for the academic year following their research abroad. The Center sponsors a series of undergraduate research workshops that focus on different stages of the thesis, from choosing a topic to carrying out field research and writing. Throughout the year, the Center engages Undergraduate Associates both formally at dinners with guest speakers and informally through contact with graduate students, Faculty Associates, and Fellows of the Center.

Awards and Benefits

Grants range from $1,500 to $6,000.

Who Is Eligible

Harvard College students, generally juniors, are eligible to seek summer funding for senior thesis research in international affairs. In the past, most grants have been awarded to students in the social sciences (anthropology, economics, government, history, social studies, and sociology), but the Center has supported applications from students in other fields that meet the criteria outlined here.


Summer travel grants are designed to help finance foreign travel in connection with senior thesis research. Undergraduate Associates are expected to present their thesis research at a conference in February following their return.

The Weatherhead Center strongly discourages students from holding summer internships or jobs that could have a negative impact on the duration or quality of their field research. Those who wish to take on summer obligations other than their field research must tell the Center of their plans and may need to sacrifice one opportunity for another. All research experiences that the Center supports are meant both to be of significant length and to hold serious scholarly meaning.

How to Apply

The Weatherhead Center uses the common application form, CARAT. Before undergraduates begin their application in CARAT, they must make sure to read all application instructions listed here and in CARAT. The instructions specific to CARAT can be found on the top menu under “Funding Sources and Supplements” after logging in. Applicants should scroll down that page and carefully read all of the details and instructions for “Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Undergraduate Thesis Research Grants.” A complete application will consist of:

  • the CARAT application form and budget,
  • proposal of approximately 750 words,
  • a one-page résumé,
  • current transcript or grade report,
  • the research preparedness form,
  • and two letters of recommendation.

All of these materials must be uploaded to the CARAT application and then submitted electronically by the deadline. You do not need to submit a paper copy of the application to us. If your recommenders have already sent or emailed letters directly to Clare Putnam, then they do not have to also upload them to CARAT.

Applicants are encouraged to attend the Weatherhead Center’s special workshop on Writing a Successful Thesis Grant Proposal, on Monday, February 2, 4:15–5:15 pm in CGIS South, room S250.


February 13, 2015