Summer Science Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

June 13 – July 25, 2015 ǀ George Mason University

The APA Science Directorate in partnership with the George Mason University Department of Psychology will host the 2015 Summer Science Fellowship program (SSF). SSF aims to immerse advanced undergraduate students in the science of psychology by exposing them to the excitement and promise of the best of psychological science. Our principal objective is to inform these students about the science of psychology and its promise for the future, and help prepare them for the rigors of graduate study in psychological science.

George Mason University, while a relatively young university, has grown rapidly into one of the most highly respected universities in the Washington, D.C., area, and its department of psychology is one of the university’s greatest sources of pride. Outstanding faculty members and graduate students conduct research in a wide variety of areas in psychological science, and they are eager to welcome the 2015 APA summer science fellows. Find out more about the GMU Department of Psychology.

Eligibility and Application

What is a "rising senior"?
If you are graduating from college between December 2015 and August 2016, you are considered a rising senior and are eligible to apply for SSF. In addition, students need to be enrolled full-time for at least one semester during the 2015-2016 academic year. If you are graduating from college before December 2015 or after August 2016, you are not eligible for SSF.

Will I be considered if I am not a psychology major?
Yes, but you should have a clearly demonstrated interest in psychological science, perhaps through a minor or an interdisciplinary studies major that features psychology.

Is there a minimum GPA required to apply?
Yes, the minimum GPA is a 3.0. In addition, you must have at least a 3.25 psychology GPA in order to be considered for the program.

Is prior research experience required to attend SSF?
We realize that many students do not have the opportunity to conduct research at their home universities. For this reason, prior research experience is not a requirement to be considered for SSF. Although previous research experience is not a requirement, we find it to be helpful. Because SSF is a research-intensive program, previous research experience — in any subject — is beneficial to the SSF student.

What coursework is required to apply to SSF?
To be considered for the program you must have taken (or be currently enrolled in) courses in research methods, statistics and introduction to psychology. Additional psychology coursework above these requirements is desirable.

My spring final exam schedule conflicts with the timing of the SSF program. Will I still be eligible to attend if selected?
Probably. We have been able to arrange for students to take proctored final exams with us in the past, so ask your professor if this would work for you. Most U.S. schools will have ended classes and finals by mid-June, and if this is the case for you, there should be no conflicts.

Do transcripts and letters of recommendation have to arrive by Feb. 9th?
Yes, all application materials, including official transcripts and letters of recommendation, must be received by Feb. 9th. If you have any concerns about your transcripts reaching our office in time for the deadline, we suggest having your registrar’s office send us the official transcripts by rush order or fax.

What if I can’t be present for the entire six weeks? Could I still participate?
This program is meant to give students uninterrupted time in a lab environment, so please apply only if you can commit to six weeks.

When will you notify applicants of the selection outcome?
We expect to be able to complete our selection of the fellows by early to mid-March. All applicants will hear from us by email message.

What should I do if I studied abroad fall semester and have not yet received my fall grades?
You should submit your official transcript with all the grades you have available at this point and separately send a letter explaining your situation and listing the courses that you took abroad. As soon as you receive your study abroad grades, please send them to us as soon as possible (even if it's an unofficial copy).

Will I be notified about the status of my application?
Due to the high volume of applications, we are unable to confirm receipt of materials. Please do not contact us to inquire about the status of your application.

May I select someone other than a psychology professor for my letters of recommendation?
At least one letter from a psychology professor is required to be considered for SSF, although we strongly recommend that you get both letters from psychology professors. If necessary, we will accept one letter from a faculty member in a field of science other than psychology (e.g., chemistry, biology). Because SSF takes place in an academic setting, we would prefer that you not submit letters from employers, internship supervisors or faculty from non-science disciplines.

May I submit sealed, official transcripts myself, or must they be submitted by the registrar’s office at my university?
While we would prefer to receive transcripts mailed directly to our office from your institution’s registrar, we will accept official transcripts from applicants if they are still unopened and in sealed envelopes. We require only one official transcript. Our mailing address is:

Science Directorate
American Psychological Association
Attn: Summer Science Fellowship
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242

I have attended more than one college. Do I need to submit transcripts from each school?
If coursework from your previous institution is listed on the transcript from your current institution (including course title and grade), you only need to submit a transcript from your current college or university. If your transcript at your current institution does not reflect previous coursework, you must submit a separate transcript from your previous institution. We must have an official transcript of every course you have taken in college and the grade you received in each course. You are responsible for ensuring that we receive this information, so please check with your school’s registrar to see what is reflected on your transcript.


Will I be responsible for any fees during the course of the program?
There will be a $200 registration fee due only after students are accepted in the program. This fee is meant to signify your commitment to the SSF program. We understand this is a lot of money, however, please keep in mind that APA is paying a generous stipend as well as living expenses during your stay in the program. We will cover your transportation costs from your U.S. location to your summer fellowship site, your dormitory costs, a food allowance, as well as a stipend.

What are the levels of financial support for students?
Each student will receive a summer salary of $2500 for the six week period. APA will pay your housing fees and your travel to and from D.C. directly, and you will receive funds to cover the cost of your meals.

Where would I live? Would I have to arrange my own housing?
You will live in a dorm at George Mason University, where you have your lab assignment. APA will arrange all dorm housing for applicants.

What about travel from my home?
Your travel will be arranged and paid for in advance by APA.

I expect to be living in the Washington, D.C., area this summer. Could I use the dorm fees to pay my parents or roommates for my share of the rent?
Sorry. Dorm fees are just for dorm use. If you live in the area, you must live in the dorm with your fellow students.

Could I continue with my regular evening/weekend job during this program?
No. This experience is meant to be full time. There will be some evening and weekend obligations, so other work obligations would run counter to the program.

Will I get to choose which lab I will be working in?
You will be able to express preferences for areas of research — not the specific labs or faculty members. This is done right on the application form itself. We will match you and your interests with the placements available. We are encouraging students to think broadly, and consider lab assignments in content areas that are unfamiliar to them.

Who are the faculty members participating in SSF for 2015?
We will be providing faculty information to students upon selection. All faculty members come from George Mason University, where your lab assignment will be made. Please note that we will not know for sure which faculty members are participating in this year’s program until after the application deadline, so we will be unable to take student preferences into account in this regard. 

When will I know which lab I will be working in?
You will be given your lab assignment after you have committed to the program and paid your registration fee. Again, please note that we will not have individual faculty or lab information until after the application deadline; we will provide this information as soon as all participants have confirmed their participation and paid their fees.

Can I contact my assigned faculty advisor before paying the registration fee and making my decision?
No. SSF faculty are generously giving their time to the program, and because of this we do not want students who are not yet committed to the program to contact SSF faculty and take up their time. Once you have committed to the program, we encourage you to be in frequent contact with your faculty advisor. Please keep in mind that the primary purpose of SSF is to provide an opportunity to expand your research horizons. As such, it is more important to commit to the program as a whole rather than to one lab in particular.

What type of work/projects will I be working on during the duration of the program?
We can’t be specific about the assignments, as they will vary from faculty member to faculty member. Most students will be asked to dive right into ongoing research projects of the faculty.

What are the work hours for the SSF?
Your specific work hours will be determined by your faculty mentor and will comply with the requirements of his or her lab. We consider these fellowships to be full-time commitments.

Will I be the only SSF student in my assigned lab?
Some labs will have just one SSF student, and others will have two. Under no circumstances will more than two SSF students be placed in the same lab.

Will there be anything to do besides lab work?
Yes! Periodically during the six week session, we will gather you together here in Washington, D.C., for group presentations, discussions about graduate school, various research careers in psychological science and some social time as well.

Will attending this program help me prepare for graduate school?
Absolutely. You will be able to show prospective graduate programs that you have a significant interest in psychological science. You will learn a lot about areas of psychological science that may be unfamiliar to you, helping you to further define your future interest areas. You might be able to ask your faculty mentor to write a letter of recommendation for your applications to graduate school. And last, you will learn practical information from the program leaders about life as a graduate student and how to put your best foot forward in your applications.

What if I have other questions? Is there someone I can contact?
Always feel free to contact the APA Science Directorate staff for help with particular questions. You can reach us via email or telephone at (202) 336-6000.