The SAO Summer Intern Program is a 10-week NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship where students take on an astrophysics research project with an SAO or Harvard scientist. Students are expected to work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the full duration of the program. We house our interns in Harvard's graduate student dormitory facilities.
The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution. Undergraduates who are US citizens or green card holders at the time of the internship are eligible to apply. For more details regarding eligibility requirements, see the FAQ page.
The many potential areas of research at the CfA can be seen here and can involve data from a host of facilities, including space-based telescopes like NASA's Kepler, Spitzer, and Chandra missions (among others), and the many ground-based observatories often used by SAO scientists, such as:
- The Submillimeter Array in Hawaii
- The MMT on Mt. Hopkins in Arizona
- The Magellan Telescopes on Las Campanas, in Chile
- The Millimeter-Wave Telescope in Cambridge
Undergraduate students interested in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. We provide a wide range of projects to our interns. That said, we have noticed in recent years that many of our projects involve programming tasks, and Python tends to figure prominently in them. You may find it helpful to bring some Python proficiency to your internship -- but this is by no means required; we have hosted many successful interns with NO prior programming experience. In a similar vein, you may find it useful to have taken at least an introductory Astronomy course, for scientific context. Again, that is NOT required.
Check here periodically for further updates.
The 2023 summer session is expected to run for ten weeks, starting Sunday, June 4 (move-in day) and going through Saturday, August 12. Those dates are subject to change without notice, depending on availability of housing on the Harvard campus. We anticipate operating our REU onsite in 2023, but this is not guaranteed, because we cannot control the course of the pandemic.
In concert with many other REU sites, we anticipate making offers to 11 undergraduates on Monday, March 1.
We anticipate opening the web portal to begin accepting applications for summer of 2023 on December 1.
The application portal will close at 23:59:59 EST on Monday, January 31, 2023. In other words, to receive full consideration, applications must be completed by midnight EST on that day, including all letters of recommendation. Please work with your recommenders to ensure they are aware of the deadline.
Application status may be checked by following THIS LINK to the applications form.
Some Instructions Regarding Letters of Recommendation:
The letters of recommendation are essential elements of your application. Make sure that you ask your recommenders long enough in advance of the deadline that they have adequate time to write your letters and submit them.
Double-check your recommenders' contact information for accuracy. They will be contacted using the email address you enter, exactly as you enter it.
Be sure that you save the application.
Alert your recommenders that they can expect to be contacted by email@example.com, and tell them when. Needless delays occur when recommenders ignore emails from that address, or when the email request ends up in their spam folders.
If you decide to change your recommender before completing your application, be sure to notify your previous reference as a courtesy and to prevent confusion.
Instructions Regarding Transcripts:
Make sure that your name appears on each transcript.
Black out your SSN, date of birth, and address.
IMPORTANT: Print all transcripts to PDF format or otherwise flatten them to remove security from the document, so we can print them.
Instructions Regarding the Essay:
The essay is to be a maximum of two pages in 12-point font in PDF format only. We have to read literally hundreds of essays, it will not help your cause if you ignore this instruction.
Your name should appear at the top of each page (in the margin is OK).
Notes Related to the Application Portal:
Because our program is funded by a federal agency (NSF), we can only accept undergraduates who are US citizens or green card holders. We strongly encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to apply.
Our interns will receive a stipend. Housing will be provided free of charge for the duration of the internship (subject to Harvard re-opening). Questions about these and other matters are addressed on our FAQ page.