GSEF Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I apply?

We have completed the funding cycle for the GSEF program and no longer accepting applications. Below is information about our application process for your reference.

Contact your campus point person(s) for information about GSEF specific to your college and to submit an application. Once selected by your college as a GSEF fellow, completed materials that must be sent to Allen Linton II, ACM’s Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:

  • Personal information;
  • Academic information and/or transcript;
  • Resume or C.V.;
  • Research statement;
  • Personal statement;
  • Faculty letter(s) of recommendation

You will also be invited to share the following with your campus point person(s) and Allen Linton II, ACM’s Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:

  • Suggestions generated by the applicant of up to three ACM faculty who could serve as faculty mentor; and
  • (Optional) Suggestions generated by the applicant of participating research universities and/or department(s) and/or faculty mentor(s) of particular interest for the summer research experience.

Q. What are the eligibility requirements for the fellowship?

All qualified sophomores from underrepresented groups in the professoriate are encouraged to apply for the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship. This includes African Americans; Hispanics; Native Americans; Alaska Natives; Native Hawaiians; other Pacific Islanders; first-generation college students; and individuals who have followed non-traditional pathways to college due to exceptional talent and motivation in the face of adversity, such as societal, economic or academic disadvantages. Ideal candidates will have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application. Additionally, students must meet the following criteria for eligibility:

  • Be a US citizen, a permanent resident of the US, or a DACA recipient;
  • Have sophomore standing (or have completed at least three semesters of undergraduate education, or their equivalent in terms or blocks as determined by their home ACM institution); and
  • Have a strong interest in pursuing terminal graduate work in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and/or the arts.

Q. Do I need to have prior research experience to apply?

No. Applicants without prior research experience will be considered. Please make sure to touch upon coursework or projects geared toward preparing you to engage in research and scholarship in your statement of research interests. Include a description of why you find this field of study interesting, and what questions or topics you might pursue as a research project to expand your knowledge.

Q. How much is the stipend/compensation for the fellowship?

GSEF fellows will receive $4,000 during their 8-10 week summer research experience at a Big Ten Academic Alliance institution, which is funded entirely through the grant. Additionally, the Big Ten Academic Alliance Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) covers housing as an added benefit, and many (but not all) of the institutions offer either a partial or full meal plan.

Once the GSEF fellow completes their summer research experience, presents at the Annual Summit in Chicago, and meets the expectations of the program as determined by their home ACM campus (i.e. attends workshops on topics like time management, writing personal statements, finding funding for graduate school, etc.), they become eligible for: (1) graduate school exploration funds (up to $1,000 per fellow) during their senior year and up to December 31 of the year following their graduation and (2) assistance for scholarly-related activities (up to $500 in total per fellow).

Q. Do any of the Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions include meal plan offers for summer research students?

Yes – The majority of our partner universities offer a meal plan for the summer (in addition to lodging and travel to/from the summer placement institution). For the institutions that do not offer a meal plan as part of the program, there is some additional funding available for students who have been placed at those institutions.

More details on Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions

Q. When and where does the Annual Summit for summer research presentations take place?

The GSEF Annual Summit will take place in Chicago, IL at the conclusion of the 8-10 week summer research experience. All GSEF fellows are expected to attend two summits (once during the summer between sophomore and junior year, and once during the summer between junior and senior year).

Q. Is there a list of eligible humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts majors/departments?

The GSEF program is designed for students interested in pursuing study and research in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts, including:
Anthropology and archaeology Library and archival studies
Art and art history Linguistics and comparative language studies
Classics, classical languages, and literatures Performance studies
Communications, journalism, film, and media studies Philosophy, ethics, and logic
Economics Political science, government, and public policy analysis
Education Psychology
English language, literature, and creative writing Religion and theology
Foreign languages and literatures Sociology
History Other: Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more approved fields at their core.

Q. I have more than one area of interest, should I include them all?

Yes! Please provide as much information as you can so that the Big Ten Academic Alliance staff can help match you with a faculty and/or graduate student mentor in a department that most closely fits your academic interests and experience. You should explain as clearly as possible the areas that you would like to research and why this research appeals to you. The challenging aspect of writing a research statement is to balance general interests with specific research questions. One strategy is to nest your specific research interest or topic within a broader area of study. All graduate students and faculty have general areas of interest from which specific research topics and questions stem. (For example, you may be interested in African history generally and the history of land tenure systems in apartheid-era South Africa specifically.)

A good strategy for writing a research statement is to identify a general interest, and then to express a more narrow focus. You should address why you are passionate about the area of research and how your experiences thus far (e.g. course work, research experiences, study abroad) have prepared you for a summer research experience working within your general area.

Please note that it is unlikely you will work on your specific, narrow research question during the summer research experience. A nested research statement will ease the process of finding faculty and/or graduate student mentors whose general interests intersect with yours. 

Q. Once chosen as a GSEF fellow, when can I expect to find out about my faculty and/or graduate student mentor match at a participating research university?

Once you have been chosen as a GSEF fellow, your application materials and revised written (personal and academic) statements, research areas of interest, resume, and transcript are shared with our partners at the Big Ten Academic Alliance and participating research institutions. The coordinators of the various university programs will help to match you with faculty and/or graduate student research opportunity mentors.

During the fall and winter months, you may or may not hear from Big Ten coordinators or prospective mentors as they review your materials and stated research interests. Each university maintains its own placement process and timeline. Some universities make placements based solely on GSEF application materials (particularly the personal and research statements). Some universities prefer to reach out to students prior to finalizing a placement to determine whether a mentor and student would be a good match for each other. If a university contacts you, be sure to respond. You should receive information about your final placement between February and April of your junior year.

Q. Is it possible for GSEF fellows to study abroad/off-campus?

Yes. To accommodate the anticipated start dates of our partner university summer research programs, it is recommended that GSEF fellows pursue study abroad programs during the fall/winter term of their junior year. If a student would like to study abroad during their junior spring term/semester, it is critical that they enroll in a program that will allow them to return to the continental United States by no later than June 1. Participation in programs that conclude after June may make it impossible for students to participate in GSEF.

Q. Who do I contact with additional questions?

You should contact your campus point person with additional questions about your college’s internal deadlines, application requirements, information about how to access your funds, and more.

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