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 18 students work full time on social science research projects led by Harvard faculty. Students live in one of the Harvard Houses with fellow undergraduates participating in several other research programs, focused on fields ranging from the arts to astrophysics, from organizational behavior to public health. BLISS covers the housing costs and provides 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 the fall, with a deadline just prior to the winter break. The projects are posted for the students on this website, and the student applications are due in early-to-mid-February.

BLISS 2020 Key Info

General FAQs

Q: Who should I contact with questions?

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

Q: What are the dates of the program?

A: We always start 11 days after Commencement. In 2020 the program will run from Monday, June 8th, through Friday, July 31, with a closing event in the first week of August, and all research will be conducted remotelyThursday, August 13th, with student presentations during the final week (August 10-13); mentors should commit to attending their own students' presentations. (In 2021, the dates will be Mo, 6/7 - Th, 8/12.)

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!

FAQs about the "Independent Project" Option

Q: If I am applying for an independent research project, may I also list one or two faculty-led projects that I am interested in?

A: It may be difficult to make a compelling case as to why you would be equally interested in, and suited for, the independent project versus one of the faculty projects, but if you believe you can present a convincing argument, go for it. Please make sure your faculty mentor addresses this explicitly in the letter of recommendation.

Q: What if another person is better qualified to comment on my academic preparation than my proposed mentor? Can that person write a letter of recommendation instead (or in addition to)?

A: No. The committee wants evidence that your mentor is confident in your ability to carry out the proposed work, and is dedicated to providing the requisite mentorship. This generally will require that your mentor knows you fairly well. However, a case could be imagined where a mentor has agreed to work with you based on the strength of a recommendation from a colleague of theirs (another faculty member or a TF) who knows you better. In that case, your mentor may want to make reference to (or outright quote) this other person's recommendation in his/her own letter. But we do not accept multiple letters, and we do require a persuasive mentor endorsement for this category of project.

Program Archive

View past and current project descriptions, fellow bios, abstract books, and more.