BLISS logo image

The Harvard College BLISS program is a summer residential program for Harvard undergraduates designed to provide a formative and substantive social science research experience and to promote community, creativity, and academic excellence. During the ten-week program approximately 15 students work full time on social science research projects led by Harvard faculty. BLISS provides on-campus housing and partial board, a stipend for expenses, and coverage of summer savings obligations for financial aid recipients; it also provides academic and professional development programming for the student fellows (including lectures and discussions with distinguished faculty and professionals in a wide variety of fields, practical seminars, and a chance to present their research publicly), as well as a host of social activities. The call for faculty project proposals goes out in early December, with a deadline in mid-January. The projects are posted for the students on this website, and the student applications are due in mid-February.

FACULTY Proposal Instructions - *Deadline* JANUARY 16, 2018

We seek project proposals from Harvard Faculty for all varieties of social science research and methods (e.g., from archival research, to mapping and modeling, to quantitative/qualitative data analysis, to laboratory experiments and population surveys, to case studies and interviews, and beyond).

Proposed projects are posted on this website, and student applicants indicate their top three choices. A steering committee of faculty and staff reviews the student applications and selects a subset of suitable candidates to interview with project mentors. We regret that we cannot guarantee  a student placement with every project.

Faculty - Student interviews, mentors' opportunity to meet any candidates identified as possible matches for their projects, will take place during the month of March.

The 2018 program runs from Monday, June 4 to Thursday, Aug 9. Please submit a proposal only if  you plan to be on campus for the majority of the summer.

Faculty mentors are expect to attend their own student's presentation on Tuesday, Aug 7, or Wednesday, Aug 8. This is the summer capstone experience. If one day is preferred over the other, we do our best to accommodate.

Submit a BLISS project proposal no later than Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Please use the linked Qualtrics form; do not email a Word document.)

If you *missed* the STUDENT Strategy Sessions

​​​​​​The strategy sessions covered key points to keep in mind while writing your application. BLISS and the other summer programs each ask slightly different questions*, but all applications should address these basic underlying points:

  • What are you interested in researching this summer, and why? (The "why" can take various forms: maybe you were captivated by a class or a particular reading or instructor; maybe aspect of your history before Harvard or your goals for the future is the source of your inspiration. BLISS asks you to list up to three projects of interest; please devote a brief paragraph to each. If you have a strong preference for one, you can elaborate in that paragraph.)
  • What have you already done that contributes to your intellectual preparedness for the research?  (Skills you have, classes you've taken, prior research or work experience, independent learning, etc.)
  • How will participating in the research project (and the program as a whole) contribute to both your short-term and long-term academic and professional goals?
  • How will you contribute to, and benefit from, participating in a diverse residential community of scholars? Here we are looking for evidence that you will both leverage, and help build, the social network that is the summer research village. (View the blogs and calendars in the archive section to learn more.) It would help if you described current or recent involvement in a community (e.g., a Harvard house/dorm, a sports team, a musical group, a public service activity, or other hobby or interest group), with specific examples of your role contributing to the cohesion and distinctive identity of the group.

A note about recommendations: BLISS asks for one letter of recommendation, and we ask the recommender to comment not only on your intellectual aptitude for research and for the specific projects, but also to indicate how you will contribute to, and benefit from, the community. It may be helpful for you to provide your recommender a copy of your research essay and some prompts about your community engagement. The same recommender can write letters for different programs, but should tailor each letter. BLISS uses the house/dorm ratings as a check to ensure that there are no problems.

*The specific questions we ask in BLISS are as follows, but make sure to address all the points above.

  1. Describe why you are interested in participating in BLISS and how your preferred project(s) relate to your current (undergraduate) academic goals.
  2. Describe how you expect participation in BLISS to inform your long-term academic trajectory and/or to contribute to your professional goals.
  3. Describe how you will contribute to, and benefit from, the BLISS and greater Summer Undergraduate Research Village residential community.

STUDENT Applicant Info - *Deadline* FEBRUARY 13, 2018

Any continuing Harvard College undergraduate student in good standing may apply to BLISS. You must be able to commit to the full ten weeks of the program, including fulltime research and additional lunchtime and evening academic activities. All the information about BLISS and the other Harvard Summer Undergraduate Research Village programs can be found on the URAF website. (Of the seven programs listed, only Amgen is open to students from other universities.)

2018 project descriptions

FAQs - Program Dates, Contact Info, and More!

Q: Who should I contact with questions?

A: Jennifer Shephard, BLISS academic coordinator, 617.495.7906,, or Greg Llacer, Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, 617.384.7995,

Q: What are the dates of this year's program?

A: Monday, June 4, through Thursday, August 9 (presentations on August 7 and 8).

Q: What kinds of projects has BLISS included in the past?

A: Check out prior faculty project descriptions (meant to be illustrative, not limiting). Note that not all projects were filled; to learn more about those that were, check out the abstract books and fellow bios.

Q: What kinds of academic, professional development, and community programming does BLISS offer?

A: Many of the academic activities are listed on the calendars for each summer. To get a sense of the community as a whole, visit some of the Harvard Undergraduate Research Village blogs.

Q: Who designed the BLISS logo?

A: Audrey Effenberger, Harvard College class of 2019.

Q: Did BLISS once stand for something other than "Build Learning through Inquiry in the Social Sciences"?

A: Originally the BLISS acronym derived from Behavioral Laboratory In the Social Sciences. A new backronym was developed in 2017 to better reflect program goals and diversity of research methodologies. BLISS might also be said to represent the amazing summer experience we hope participants will have!

image of Escher-like bunny mural in Leverett House with the word "ARCHIVE" overlaid