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CUSP SEF Internship & Research Assistantship Funding

[UPDATE: All summer opportunities must be conducted virtually online, with the exception of experiences on Columbia University campuses.]

The CUSP Internship & Research Assistantship Funding provides partial financial support for Scholars who wish to participate in an internship or research assistantship over the summer.

The CUSP Summer Enhancement Fellowship for Internships & Research Assistantships is a competitive grant that assists Scholars in securing partial financial support for structured research and internship opportunities (including research-related activities such as conferences, symposia, travel, publications, etc.) and unpaid or low-paying summer practicums (in line with the Program’s mission and the student’s academic trajectory). This opportunity is secured solely by the student. 

All Scholars funded for Summer 2021 are expected to:

  • Post a response on an educational blog on a weekly basis during the summer, beginning in June. The final blog entry will consist of the abstract.
  • Provide a budget reconciliation report listing your CUSP-related expenses and appropriate original receipts. This will be due by the Welcome Back Dinner & SEF Showcase at the start of the Fall 2021 term.


* Welcome Back Dinner & SEF Showcase (MANDATORY ATTENDANCE)
   Thursday, September 17, 2020
   6:00-8:00 p.m. ET


* SEF Information Session (MANDATORY ATTENDANCE)
 Thursday, November 5, 2020
 6:00-8:o0 p.m. ET


* CUSP SEF Online Application Opens
  Friday, March 12, 2021
  An email will be sent with instructions.
* A-to-Z Workshop: For all Scholars Applying for Summer Funding (MANDATORY ATTENDANCE)
   Online Form
   DUE: Sunday, April 11th, 2021, 11:59pm
   Distribution: TBD
* CUSP SEF Online Application Deadline
  Sunday, April 11, 2021 - 11:59pm ET
  A reminder will be sent to all scholars.


Currently, all summer experiences must be conducted virtually online, with the exception of scholars that secured an internship or research assistantship on Columbia's campuses. This means that CUSP cannot offer SEF awards to CUSP Scholars who participate in internships, research assistantships, volunteer work, or independent projects that are in-person outside of Columbia University.  If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact us at



* APPLICATIONS FOR SUMMER 2021 WILL BE DUE SUNDAY, APRIL 11th, 2021 BY 11:59PM ET.  Applications will be available online on Saturday March 13th, 2021. 

The online application can be saved as a draft, reviewed, and revised before your final submission. However, you should have available at the time of your submission: the logistical information about your internship/research assistantship and contacts; your budget breakdown (e.g. amount for housing, food, supplies) that you will enter into the form fields; and, an essay answering the supplementary questions as a .doc or .pdf. The supplemental questions will ask you to describe your internship and what motivated you to this opportunity; to explain what you intend to learn during the summer; and to list the CUSP events that you attended and how each event contributed to your understanding of this year's theme of "Disruption." If you were approved to attend alternate events due to academic conflicts, then you will have to reflect on your experiences and on the theme from those events. 

Preparation Tips:

  • You must participate in and complete the reflection forms for at least 4 CUSP events or alternate events (if applicable) by Sunday April 11th, 2021, at 11:59pm;
  • Have readily available your employment/position confirmation letter for those pursuing internships, research assistantships, or volunteer positions (more below). 
  • Prepare your responses to Supplemental Questions in advance
    • What skills (hard or soft) or competencies do you hope to gain from your experience?
    • How will your work with this organization or individual align with your academic, career, or professional interests?
    • How did the CUSP events (or alternate events) contribute to your understanding of this year’s Speaker Series theme of Disruption? [List your events and explain.];
  • Consider a realistic budget – on average, awardees receive about $4,000 for a 12-week summer experience.  With the recent economic climate and an uptick in student interest in the SEF, the amounts for this year will be variable.  You must be able to justify your budget in the application.


Applications will be evaluated by a selection committee on the basis of their overall fulfillment of the selection criteria. Incomplete applications and candidates who do not meet the criteria will not be considered. Notifications of the award decisions will be sent in mid-May. 

Criteria for Selection: To be considered for the SEF grant, applicants must: (1) have a GPA of at least 2.6; (2) be in good academic standing with Columbia College and Columbia Engineering; (3) be in good standing with CUSP.


Applications will be evaluated on: (1) the feasibility, clarity, and coherence of the responses to the Supplemental Questions; and (2) the ability of the applicant to undertake the internship/research assistantship.


Expectations of Award Recipients: Recipients of the SEF Internship/Research Assistantship award are expected to: 

  • Post responses on an educational blog on a weekly basis during the summer beginning in June, with the final blog entry consisting of the abstract summarizing their summer experience;

  • Submit at least one (1) visual representing the project when prompted in the blog;

  • Submit a budget reconciliation report listing their CUSP-related expenses and appropriate original receipts by the Welcome Back Dinner & SEF Showcase in September 2021. [Your GSM will share a budget reconciliation template during the summer.]


Human Subjects Research for SEF Independent Projects: Many applicants wish to undertake “human subjects research” in which they interview or survey people. Because of the importance of treating human subjects ethically and ensuring that no harm comes to someone who participates in research, all universities are federally mandated to oversee approval of all human subject research through an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Given the short duration of SEF Independent Projects, CUSP will not support projects by Scholars requiring IRB approval unless they are listed as an approved researcher by their faculty sponsor. For applicants wishing to undertake such research, the letter from the faculty sponsor must include a statement confirming that the IRB process has been fulfilled. For questions regarding IRB permits and whether you will need them for your proposed Independent project, please contact Annie Barry (, Assistant Manager, Institutional Review Board (IRB).  



To apply for the SEF Independent Project award, please CLICK HERE - SEF APPLICATION! The application will be open from March 13th through April 11th, 2021.

We look forward to reviewing your applications.

Questions about the SEF application? Contact us at



*IMPORTANT: CUSP does not vet the safety or security of the setting in which Scholars intend to pursue their projects. It is the individual students’ responsibility to take the appropriate precautions following the approval and recommendations of Columbia's Undergraduate Travel Committee, CDC Guidelines, and state/country restrictions.  The nature of this fellowship is solely for financial support.   

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


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