Undergraduate Research


For undergraduate students of anthropology, research opportunities can come in the form of fellowship or scholarship programs, field schools, and internships, paid and non-paid. Here are some ideas of how to go about doing anthropological research.

Study abroad

Penn Abroad Announcements Newsletter is designed to keep you abreast of upcoming events, information sessions, program/scholarship deadlines and other information concerning study abroad at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Penn's Center for the Advanced Study of India offers travel funds to spend the summer abroad in India. Funding is available both for 10-week summer internships and independent research projects. For more information, check out the CASI website.

Penn's Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships are awarded each year to students doing research related to Africa, East Asia, the Middle East, and South Asia. There is both a summer and an academic year award. For more information, click here.

Internships and Volunteer Opportunities

  • Guatemala Health Initiative Summer 2012 Internships Since 2005, the Guatemala Health Initiative (GHI) has coordinated interdisciplinary research, education, and service programming involving the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences, Wharton, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. GHI partners with the Hospitalito Atitlán (HA) in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala to develop and organize community initiated programs in improving the health of the Atitlán community. Click here for more information about the program and specific internships.
  • The Penn Museum has a variety of internship opportunities available to Penn undergrads. Students can get involved through groups like The Clio Society, which offers training as a museum docent, or the Penn Museum Student Advisory Board, which advises on ways to engage students and helps to organize and promote Museum events . There are also a huge variety of workstudy and volunteer opportunities available.
  • The Center for Bioethics at Penn has a variety of summer internship opportunities - research, data collection, analysis, etc, some paid, some not, on projects ranging from disability rights to sports medicine ethics. The list of opportunities will be posted online in early March, so please check out here for details then. In the meantime, if you would like to be put on a mailing list of interested students, please contact Andrea Spenze-Aizenberg.
  • Penn Career Services has a comprehensive list of online resources for finding international internship opportunities
  • BUNAC, work and volunteer programs in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Peru, Cambodia and South Africa
  • The Chijnaya Foundation’s Volunteer Program in Peru
  • The Puentes de Salud Puentes Hacia el Futuro Initiative, an after-school tutoring/mentoring program for Hispanic/Latino elementary school children in South Philadelphia. Practice Spanish, learn about health and education issues, and work with the city's growing Hispanic/Latino community.
  • The Kalu Yala Internship Program allows students and young professionals to come to Panama and gain cultural exposure, work experience, and knowledge in order to create a project that will ultimately help shape this sustainable community. Their anthropology program will give interns the opportunity to participate in anthropological field research in San Miguel, a small town located just outside of the Kalu Yala site. The program is currently conducting research in ethnomedicine and ethnobotany, as well as developing ideas for Kalu Yala’s healthcare system.
  • Match Corps is a Boston-area urban education tutoring program. It is a full-time, 10.5 month committment. Fellowships are available.
  • The North American Archaeology Department at the American Museum of Natural History funds internships which provide both lab and field experience for interested archaeology students. There are a variety of other internships as well in fields like general anthropology, so interested students should check out their website for more details.

Research Mentorship

The McNair Scholars Program identifies and prepares eligible students for graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. by providing research training and early scholarly experiences to high-achieving undergraduate Penn students. Students apply to the McNair Scholars Program during their sophomore year.

The Major Advising Program is a peer advising system that helps students with their search for a major. Any College student can access the online database of peer advisors, representing nearly every major within the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program is designed for juniors and seniors who are relatively unfamiliar with technology topics. It focuses on building confidence, providing learning strategies and encouraging creative exploration of software and technologies commonly used in the workplace. Comfort and confidence with, and a strong foundation in technology skills can provide a valuable edge in many job and internship searches. Students meet with library staff to plan out personalized programs, and delve deeper into technologies particularly relevant to careers of interest. Attendance at all workshops is a requirement for completion. Students are selected based on level of interest and match between their needs and planned training.

Undergraduate Journals and Conferences
Presenting or publishing your papers through these journals and conferences is great experience for budding academics and gets your research out there! In some cases, papers or research from class can be submitted.

  • University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Research Symposium: Held in February each year, this symposium seeks to bring together undergraduates involved in research from every department across all four schools, as well as attendees who might be interested in getting involved in research as undergraduates. For more information, check out the CURF website.
  • In Situ is the official undergraduate anthropology journal of the University of Pennsylvania. Students can submit a final paper from a class, an article about their independent research, photographs from anthropology-related endeavors, or a personal essay regarding reflections and experiences on the anthropology lifestyle. Submissions are due in early November. Look for details on flyers posted in the Anthropology Department.
  • The Columbia Journal of Politics and Society is an undergraduate academic journal which focuses on political and social issues. To learn more, or to view past editions, check out the journal's webite, here.
  • The Ivy Journal of Ethics is an annual undergraduate bioethics journal published by the Bioethics Society of Cornell. Find more information and past issues here.
  • Tiresias: Writings in Gender and Sexuality is an interdisciplinary journal that opens a forum for questions in the study of gender and sexuality. It is interested in formal essays that explore the way these identities intersect with race, class, and history. For more information, contact the organizers here.
  • The Esu Review is the Africana Studies undergraduate research journal of the University of Pennsylvania. Contact the department, or check here for details.
  • The Penn History Review is the official undergraduate history journal of the University of Pennsylvania. Undergraduates are invited to submit exceptional research on historical topics. Papers need not be written for a history course, but should address a topic of historical interest. More details here.
  • Momentum, The University of Pennsylvania's STSC undergraduate journal, is seeking submissions for its April launch. All types of work are eligible - not just strictly academic work - provided they are relevant to the broad theme of Science, Technology and Society. Contact the editors for more details. 
  • The American Association of Physical Anthropologists' Undergraduate Research Symposium: Any abstract with an undergraduate as the first author is welcome. Check out their website for more details.

Archaeology Field Schools

If interested in attending a particular field school, please check whether the school accredited, and affiliated with a known educational institution. Be sure to check the bulletin boards in the department as well for other opportunities! The AIA also has a fantastic list of field school opportunities on their website.

Museum Research

Research in Health, Bio, and Medicine

Language Programs

  • Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies: Academic Year and Summer Programs in Japanese language training. Applicants must have completed 2 years or more of college-level study of Japanese or the equivalent.
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad: Fellowships for advanced Arabic language study at the American University in Cairo for graduate and upper-division undergraduate students committed to a career in Middle East Studies. Summer and Full Year Programs available.
  • Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes: Scholarships (tuition, room, board, travel) for intensive overseas study of critical-need languages such as Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu. Must be US citizen.
  • Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies-Yokohama
  • Korea Foundation Fellowship for Korean Language Training: 6, 9, or 12 month fellowships (tuition, monthly living stipend) for the full-time study of Korean language at a Korean university language institute (usually Seoul National, Yonsei or Korea University). Applicants must already have basic knowledge of and ability to communicate in Korean, however, applicants who plan a long-term career in Korean studies can be considered even if they are just beginning language study.
  • The Language Flagship Fellowship: Fellowships designed to promote advanced competency in critical languages (Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Persian/Farsi, Russian, Central Asian Languages [Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen, & Uzbek]) through a combination of intensive campus curricula and overseas immersion. Applicants must be US citizens.
  • TESOL Submatriculation Program: You can apply while in your undergraduate program for submatriculation to Penn's Graduate School of Education.  This gives you the advantage to complete two graduate level courses before the other students in your master’s cohort.   

Funding Opportunities

Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) at Penn: The School of Arts and Sciences administers a number of competitive grants for undergraduate research. These funds can offset costs involved in doing research and analysis related to the Undergraduate Thesis in Anthropology. Use the following links for a comprehensive search.

The Department of Anthropology Undergraduate Research Fellowship: The Fellowship is open to anthropology majors. Minors may apply though priority will be give to anthropology majors. Fellowship applications will be judged on the basis of the mentor's evaluation, the quality and feasibility of the proposed project, the applicant's ability to complete the project successfully, and the overall scholarly performance of the applicant.

Please note that signing up for an independent study with your faculty mentor is not a requirement. Research can be conducted during the year or over the summer. An annual workshop will be held to showcase research fellows' research and findings. For more information, contact the Undergraduate Coordinator by email or phone (215-746-0418).

Penn Museum Summer Field Research Grants provide support for current Penn undergraduate and graduate students to pursue summer field research related to Archaeology and Anthropology. Details are announced in January for field research projects conducted during May through August each summer.

Penn Department of Earth and Environmental Science Fellowship funds students whose area of study relates to geology, paleontology etc. A number of Anthropology students have received this award in the past. Contact the EASC Department for more details.

Penn's Program on Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism funds undergraduate research grants to support research pertinent to one or more of the three themes of "Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism". Projects can address any one (or more) of the Program's three themes. Political, sociological, historical, philosophical, anthropological, and literary projects exploring empirical and normative issues of democracy, citizenship, and constitutionalism in any part of the world are eligible.

Funded by the Penn Libraries, the  Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards provide up to $1,000 for the purchase of equipment (both hardware and software) and supplies to support a new media project for up to one year. After one year, equipment purchased through the award will return to the Weigle Information Commons for general use. Some examples of technology items that could support new media projects include: digital videocameras, audio recorders, virtual reality camera peripherals, microphones, scanners, mobile devices, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) devices.

External sources

  • Freeman-ASIA Program, The Institute of International Education and the Freeman Foundation: Need-based funding for study abroad costs.
  • Luce Scholars Program, The Henry Luce Foundation: For graduating seniors and graduates. Provides stipends and internships in Asia for an year.
  • Morris K. Udall Scholarship, The Morris K. Udall Foundation: For matriculated sophomores or juniors, committed to a career related to the environment, OR Native American and Alaska Native students interested in tribal public policy or Native American health care.
  • Third Annual Provost's Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program: For faculty/student mentor matches. On a competitive basis, PURM will provide up to $2500 for advising and guiding an undergraduate as she/he assists in a summer project or in course development. An addition $3000 will be available to the student for a living or travel stipend.
  • Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellowships for any full-time undergraduate student enrolled in any school who is interested in conducting research on a humanistic topic.
  • Ambassadorial Scholarships, The Rotary Foundation: For sophomores, juniors, seniors. (a) Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarships provide a flat grant of US$24,000 for one academic year of study in another country. (b) Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarships help finance either three or six months of intensive language study and cultural immersion in another country.
  • William S. Pollitzer Student Travel Award, American Association of Physical Anthropologists: An award of $500 to help defray the costs of attending AAPA meetings. Open to all AAPA student members.
  • Leonard M. Rieser Undergraduate Fellowship, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: A one-time award of up to $4000 to pursue projects that explore issues at the intersection of science, global security, and public policy, focusing on a significant aspect of nuclear security, climate stabilization, or biotechnology.

Funding for graduate studies

Awards and Prizes

Detailed information on awards given for undergraduate research can be found on the University of Pennsylvania Guide to Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants page.

The Middle East Center here at Penn also holds an annual essay contest for undergraduates, with a first place prize of $500 awarded by the Center. Essays may deal with any topic within the context of the modern Middle East, broadly defined geographically. Papers addressing any aspect of Middle Eastern history since the late eighteenth century will be considered for the prize. More details here.

Pearson is offering students currently enrolled in an undergraduate anthropology course a chance to win one of three Mel Ember Student Scholarships. More info here.


Professional society awards and prizes


Do you have information that we can share on this webpage? Want more information on an existing listing? If so, please contact the Undergraduate Advisor by email. We always appreciate your input!