Research Opportunities

A distinctive feature of a Bates education is the focus on individual research.

From first-year seminars, which strengthen writing and critical thinking skills, to methods courses, independent studies, and the senior thesis, the curriculum helps students build the skills and habits of mind they need to undertake rigorous independent research. In addition to gaining new knowledge, students who conduct research learn essential techniques and methodologies, and learn to develop and defend arguments, communicate effectively about their knowledge, and cultivate time management skills that will serve them long after they leave Bates.  Conducting research requires a student to take responsibility for his or her education in a profound way.  Research is both challenging and immensely rewarding; most Bates graduates consider the pursuit of research to be the most important component of their academic career.

Support for Research during the Academic Year

Students who engage in extensive research projects during the academic year can receive financial support to do so through competitive grants programs like the Bates Student Research Fund.  This funding helps cover the costs of scientific or art supplies, travel to archives and research sites, compensation of human subjects and many other expenses.  About 80 students receive grants of up to $300 each year through the Bates Student Research Fund.  Some departments also have modest funding available to support research.  Students conducting service-learning in the context of an academic course can get support for that work through the Craft Service-Learning Awards, Community Work-Study Fellowships, Community-Based Research Fellows Program, Papaioanou Service-Learning Grants, Transportation Assistance Grants and Volunteer Service Grants program.  Students who have studied abroad and whose thesis research is connected to the study-abroad experience may also seek funding from the Barlow Endowment grants.

Summer Research

During the beautiful Maine summer, the Bates campus is home to 30 to 50 students engaged in full-time research with a faculty member.  Another 20 to 30 Bates students conduct research with Bates funding, at remote locations around the country and the world.

Summer research gives students a unique opportunity to work closely with faculty members.  Faculty say they do some of these best one-on-one teaching during the summer.  They also say that their student collaborators give them fresh insights into their research fields.

Students get invaluable experience in labs and library settings.  They come to understand a discipline from a new angle, when the logic of the lecture hall gives way to the wide-open realm of unanswered questions.  Many students get a head start on a senior thesis doing summer research; others are first-year students and sophomores, hired early in their Bates career by faculty who recognize their potential as collaborators.

Several students each year publish their research, and many give presentations at national and international scholarly conferences.  With funding available through Bates grant programs, summer research can be the perfect summer job.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I begin? As soon as possible.  Regardless of your class, and whether or not you have declared your major, it is never too early to learn about the options available and to build them into your own plans.  A good place to start is to speak with students and faculty who participated in programs during the past academic year or the past summer.  A full list of grant recipients is available online,

Where do I find specific information? Specific project titles and description of opportunities offer for the summer is sent via email early in the winter semester.  You should speak with faculty members to find out whether they will be conducting research projects that might be structured to involve student assistants.  Do not hesitate to ask faculty members if they are hiring student assistants for the summer!  Make them aware of your interest!  Email announcements on grant opportunities are sent to all students several times during the year.  The student research web page,, has the most up-to-date information.  If you have difficulty finding answers to your questions, remember that the Office of the Dean of the Faculty is a primary source of information.

Who is eligible? Students in all classes are eligible for grants for research or service-learning during the academic year.  Summer grants to support research or service-learning, or special fellowships, are not open to graduating seniors.  All summer funding is contingent upon a student maintaining a GPA of at least 2.5.

Where are applications available? Applications for most Bates-sponsored research are available online at the Dean of Faculty’s web page.  Service-learning grant applications are available online or at the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, 163 Wood Street.  Information on other programs sponsored by various foundations and agencies is also available in the Dean’s office.  The Office of Career Services can give you information on Career Discovery Internships and Ladd Internships.  Information on Barlow Grants is available from the Office for Off-Campus Study.

Who decides which students receive research and service-learning grants? Bates faculty and staff committees, faculty researchers, and departments select the recipients of support for student research through Bates-funded programs.  Sigma Xi and some INBRE grants are awarded by committees outside the College.

Is there support for research and service-learning during the academic year? Yes.  Grants of up to $300 are available for research within academic courses in all disciplines from the Bates Student Research Fund.  Also, Sigma Xi provides support for scientific research ($600-$1,000).  Community Work-Study Fellowships ($8/hour),  Community-Based Research Fellows Program ($750), Crafts Service-Learning Awards (up to $500), Papaioanou Service-Learning Grants (up to $100), Transportation Assistance Grants ($100) and the Volunteer Service Grants (up to $250 for individuals and $500 for groups) support service-learning projects.

I’m a financial aid recipient.  Does that affect my eligibility for a summer grant? With the exception of the federal work-study grants, all summer grants are awarded regardless of conditions of financial need.  Every effort is made to compensate students adequately so they will be able to make their contributions to their financial aid packages for the next year. Whatever your financial situation, be sure you consider all of your summer options and fiscal responsibilities before you apply.

How soon do I have to notify the College of my decision to accept a summer research position or service-learning internship? You must notify the College of your intentions to accept a summer grant within a few days of the announcement of your award.  The reason for this is simple:  these grants are competitive, and if you decide not to participate, the College wishes to award the grant to another qualified individual as soon as possible.

Is academic credit granted for summer research or service-learning internships?  No.

Can I get research grant funding to participate in a credit-earning summer academic program? No.

Are summer research positions open to all majors? Summer research positions are available in the humanities, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and interdisciplinary programs, and are open to all majors.  Some grant programs have specified prerequisites such as the completion of certain academic courses.  Project descriptions list all prerequisites.  Some grant programs are only available for research in specific disciplines.

Do all summer research projects take place on campus? No.  Most projects take place on campus, through some may involve fieldwork off campus or work at another research institution for all or part of the summer.

Can I have another job if I’m employed as a summer researcher? In most cases, no.  Most research and service-learning projects and fellowships (Otis and Phillips) involve a full-time (up to 40 hours per week) commitment for eight to ten weeks.  If you are employed in this full-time capacity you cannot earn additional funds at the College.

International students have several restrictions on the number of hours they can work.  If you are an international student, you should contact the payroll office to make sure there are no complications concerning your visa status, especially regarding employment not connected to your studies.

How flexible is the summer work schedule? Summer research projects are major undertakings, requiring more time to complete than is available during the academic year.  Each faculty project director designs his or her schedule for summer research.  Only the faculty researcher can give you a specific timetable for summer work, so it is important to confer with him or her before applying.

What does the final reporting process entail? The College asks you to evaluate your summer research or service-learning project by completing a one- to two-page statement describing the scope of your work, the contribution it made to your academic career, and your evaluation of the program.  Research grant recipients are also required to submit a project abstract for publication in a collection of summer research abstracts.  Details regarding specific reporting requirements are found online with the grant description.

How do I present my summer research findings? All students on campus during the fall following their summer of research are required to present their findings at the annual Parents & Families Weekend Poster Session, on the Friday afternoon of Parents weekend.