Summer Research College

The Department of Political Science is pleased to announce summer research positions for undergraduates.

Participants will work directly with a faculty mentor for ten weeks and receive a $5,000 stipend with additional funding available based on financial need and/or location. Students also have the opportunity to attend optional research training seminars to learn additional skills throughout the summer. Projects may be done in person or remotely based on university policy. Summer Research College is designed to foster close intellectual exchange by involving students in the ongoing research of Stanford professors. 


Participants must be current undergraduates at Stanford who have been enrolled for at least 2 quarters of the 20-21 academic year. Co-term students and seniors are eligible only if the bachelor’s degree will not be conferred before the end of the research appointment.


Students will be expected to work 40 hours per week during the program. The program will run from June 21 through August 27, 2021. Students and faculty will present their collaborative research in lunchtime seminars that will take place twice per week. You are expected to attend each seminar.


Each student will receive a stipend of $5,000 with additional funding available based on financial need and/or location.


The department does not offer course credit for Summer Research College. You are only eligible to receive the full Summer stipend. Students planning to take Summer courses may not enroll in courses that exceed 5 credits and must get prior approval from the faculty member with whom they are working.

Students must be enrolled for at least 2 quarters of the 20-21 academic year to participate in Summer Research College. 


For students who want to apply for on-campus summer housing, room, board, house dues, and other academic expenses are paid by the student. Students are responsible for paying their university summer bill, which will include any other academic expenses incurred. Students may review the summer room and board rates on the Housing Assignment Services website.

How to Apply: 

Download the preference form and use it to express your preference regarding faculty mentors and research projects. Please email the preference form, cover letters, resume, and unofficial transcript to Becca Hall. If your application is approved, someone will contact you to set up an interview. The department is only accepting applications via email.

Click for cover letter guidelines.   

Please submit applications via email (in PDF form) to


Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Students are encouraged to apply early.


2021 Summer Research Opportunities 

Click each project title for more information.

Faculty member Project title
Lisa Blaydes Economic Shocks and Political Change in Arab Gulf States
Adam Bonica Campaign Finance, Race, Class, and Representation
Vicky Fouka Historical and Institutional Roots of Immigrant Integration
Saad Gulzar

Poor Democracy: Improving Representation and Policy in South Asia

Shanto Iyengar The Politics of Divorce
Jon Krosnick The Political Psychology of Voting
Margaret Levi Creating a New Moral Political Economy
Margaret Levi Causal Inference for Social Impact Lab
Michael McFaul Great Power Competition Between Russia, China, and the United States in the 21st Century
Norman Naimark Why Genocide?
Soledad Prillaman Identity Politics and Development Policy in India
Robert Rakove Afghanistan in the Cold War
Scott Sagan

Four Projects About International Security

Kenneth Schultz Territorial Conflict in the Contemporary World
Jeremy Weinstein Immigration Policy Lab
Yiqing Xu Understanding the Change in Party Lines of the Chinese Communist Party Using Text as Data
Amy Zegart Spies, Norms, and Conflict Management: The Development of Moscow Rules


Project Descriptions

Economic Shocks and Political Change in Arab Gulf States

Professor Lisa Blaydes

While the 20th century has brought tremendous opportunities for economic advancement, Arab Gulf states are now facing new political and economic struggles as countries of the region are facing the possibility of both dwindling fossil fuel reserves and a global trend toward the use of renewable energy resources. While some Gulf countries have already pivoted away from reliance on oil and natural gas revenue to finance economic development, others are poised for continued transformation as fossil fuel dependence declines over the next few decades. The research assistant for this project will be asked to collect and analyze data related to economic trends in the Arab Gulf states as well as to investigate the political implications of these changes. Arabic language skills are helpful but not required.

Campaign Finance, Race, Class, and Representation

Professor Adam Bonica

More than a half-century after the civil rights era, Black, Latino, and Asian Americans remain underrepresented in elected office. At the same time, elected officials are disproportionately wealthy and less likely to have working and middle-class backgrounds. Why do American elected officials remain racially and economically unrepresentative? This project will investigate the relationship between money in politics, racial identity, class, and candidate viability. Of particular interest is understanding not just the way money in politics creates political inequality based on race and class, but also based on the intersection of race and class. I am looking for summer research assistants to assist in collecting data on the racial identities and economic/class backgrounds of congressional candidates. As the work will be data intensive, experience with R and data management is preferred.

Historical and Institutional Roots of Immigrant Integration

Professor Vicky Fouka

Throughout the 20th century Western societies have been grappling with managing diversity and accommodating immigrant populations that are culturally and religiously different. In recent years, phenomena like the rise of far-right xenophobic parties, ethnic riots and homegrown radicalization have been attributed to the failure of integration of these immigrant minorities. How have historical conditions and policies facing immigrants upon arrival shaped their integration trajectories and contributed to contemporary patterns? To answer this question, we focus on guest workers (from Muslim countries plus Eastern and Southern Europe) who migrated to Western European countries during the post-WWII period and examine intergenerational patterns of integration. Research assistants will work with historical and government sources and compile original datasets of immigrant arrivals, policy changes, local elections, and party platforms. This data will be combined with administrative and survey datasets as well as with data from the national and local press. Knowledge of German and/or Dutch would make it easier to navigate government sources. Familiarity with Stata or R is appreciated.

Poor Democracy: Improving Representation and Policy in South Asia

Professor Saad Gulzar

Can democracy work for the poor? Is there a trade-off between having a political class that is representative and one that is competent? The RA will work on a book project addressing these questions through historical and quantitative work on India, Pakistan, and Nepal. The RA will assemble and analyze descriptive data from the three cases; organize and review literature on democratic expansion from a variety of contexts; carry out secondary research on historical antecedents of the three cases; and help with editing and writing. Applicants should have excellent organizational skills and experience with Excel. It would also be helpful to have some knowledge of Stata and/or R, training in political philosophy, and/or an interest in reading about and summarizing historical cases.

The Politics of Divorce

Professor Shanto Iyengar

Prof. Iyengar is studying party polarization and the extent to which it impacts interpersonal relations. We know that dating and marriage occur within rather than across political affiliations and want to extend this literature to divorce. Is divorce more likely when couples have differing party preferences? The RA will be responsible for preparing a spreadsheet containing the names and addresses of couples that filed for divorce from Maricopa County (AZ). Once the spreadsheet is complete, we will match the names to the 2018 TargetSmart national voter file to add individuals' party registration to the dataset. The student should be well versed in the use of Excel.

The Political Psychology of Voting

Professor Jon Krosnick

Political psychology is an interdisciplinary enterprise blending psychology with the study of politics. For this project, you will join the Political Psychology Research Group, a team of undergraduates, graduate students, and other researchers let by Professor Jon Krosnick. We will explore what the American public thinks about global warming and what they want the federal government to do on the issue. We will also be investigating the forces that inspire some people to vote in national elections while others decline to participate, and the forces that shape voters’ candidate choices. No special background is necessary for an undergrad to join our team, although comfort with mathematical/statistical write-ups and some experience with statistics would help you take on more challenging tasks. Students who have statistical skills may be able to conduct original analyses of existing data to write papers for publication.

Creating a New Moral Political Economy

Professor Margaret Levi

The failure of neoliberalism in promoting human wellbeing, controlling inequality, protecting the environment, and shielding citizens from the malicious use of technology demands action. This project aims to build a new moral political economic framework. Student responsibilities will include proofreading academic and non-academic writing, participating in meetings, locating relevant literature, and helping with proposal development. Additional tasks may include helping with the analysis of syllabi; following news related to social movements around the world; compiling a literature review on topics related to aspects of neoliberal policy in the 20th century; and helping to design a website. The position does not require special skills, although familiarity with textual analysis and web design software is a plus. The student must be able to work in a team, as the work will involve engaging directly with the CASBS director, the program director, and the members of our working groups, as well as other RAs.

Causal Inference for Social Impact Lab

Professor Margaret Levi

The Causal Inference for Social Impact Lab at CASBS attempts to advance both causal inference techniques for non-randomized designs and their application to the design and evaluation of public policies. The application of non-randomized approaches faces many significant challenges. The techniques are often new and quite complicated, use individual-level data that cannot be made publicly available due to privacy protections, and can require a great deal of computing power. Complicating matters even further is the range of statistically reasonable analytic decisions a researcher can make and the effect those decisions have on their analysis. Student responsibilities will range from helping to administer our upcoming data challenge, participating in meetings, locating relevant literature, estimating basic descriptive statistics, and creating data visualizations. The position requires some basic statistics knowledge and proficiency with one of the common statistics programs. Extensive knowledge of non-randomized causal inference techniques is not a requirement, but a willingness to learn about them is a plus. The student must be able to work in a team, as the work will involve engaging directly with the CASBS director, the program director, and others involved in the project.

Great Power Competition Between Russia, China, and the United States in the 21st Century

Professor Michael McFaul

Professor Michael McFaul is looking to hire a student research assistant to support a book project about great power competition between China, Russia, and the United States. The research assistant should be prepared to work both individually and collaboratively with other RAs on thematic and historical chapters that discuss themes such as power, ideology, multilateralism, and interdependence in the 21st century. Previous research experience and demonstrated interest in Russia or China are preferred.

Why Genocide?

Professor Norman Naimark

The goal of this research project to is delve into the question of why genocide occurs in human history. What is it about human beings and human societies and polities that make it possible to commit mass murder? Most of my work in this area has been empirically focused: that is, describing cases of genocide (and ethnic cleansing), comparing different cases over time, and asking whether these cases could be considered genocide given the definitions of international law. This work will focus primarily on theory and different disciplinary approaches to understanding genocide. Students will be asked to approach the “why” question from the perspective of disciplines of their choice: psychology, sociology, neuroscience, political science, and cultural studies are the most obvious.

Identity Politics and Development Policy in India

Professor Soledad Artiz Prillaman

How does politician and bureaucrat identity affect the delivery of development programs in the world’s largest democracy? How and when do politicians and bureaucrats work together to optimally deliver services and ensure the representation of marginalized groups? This project will study how politicians and bureaucrats in India work together to bring development to the communities they serve. To do so, this project will draw on administrative data from across India and develop statistical models to answer this question. Undergraduate research assistants will collect, compile, and analyze data on politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of government and link this with data on policy implementation and development outcomes. Core responsibilities will include cleaning large government data sets, merging complex data sets using fuzzy matching, generating figures and graphs of statistical relationships, conducting preliminary statistical analyses, and conducting literature reviews. Experience working in Stata or R is preferable. By the end of the summer, we will aim to understand how identities such as caste and gender shape the experiences of politicians and bureaucrats and under what conditions politicians from marginalized identities are best able to represent the demands and interests of those identity groups.

Afghanistan in the Cold War

Professor Robert Rakove

I am seeking a research assistant proficient in Dari and/or Pashto with an interest in studying the history of Afghanistan during the Cold War. Applicants should ideally have an interest in Afghanistan, the Middle East and/or Central Asia. Some prior experience in writing historical analyses would be helpful. Applicants must be continuing (non-graduating) Stanford undergraduates.

Four Projects About International Security

Professor Scott Sagan

In summer 2021, Professor Scott Sagan will be working on four main research projects with which summer research college students could provide valued assistance. (1) “Atomic Arguments: How Exposure to Information and Argumentation Influences Public Support for the Use of Nuclear Weapons.” The aim of this project is to assess what kinds of explicit information or subtle cues change public attitudes about the use of nuclear weapons. (2) “How Democracies Fight: Attitudes towards Force Protection and Civilian Immunity in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel.” This project examines the central strategic dilemma that military commanders face today: the choice between sparing friendly soldiers or foreign civilians. (3) “Perspectives on Politics Article.” This project responds to Carpenter, Montgomery, and Nylen’s piece titled “Breaking Bad? How Survey Experiments Prime Americans for War Crimes” in Perspectives on Politics. (4) “Ethics, Law, and Nuclear Weapons.” This project will analyze the evolution of the relationship between international law and U.S. nuclear policy.

Territorial Conflict in the Contemporary World

Professor Kenneth Schultz

Research assistance is needed for a project that seeks to explain the decline of interstate territorial conquest in the post-World War II period and the role of the United States in promoting a norm of "territorial integrity." RAs will use on-line and library resources to research militarized interstate conflicts over territory and understand the nature and motivation behind the US response. Students should have an interest in using primary and secondary sources to research international crises and US decision making in response to those crises.

Immigration Policy Lab

Professor Jeremy Weinstein

Professor Jeremy Weinstein is seeking research assistants to assist in the Immigration Policy Lab’s research on the impact of refugee and asylum policies in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa. The Immigration Policy Lab has a number of projects underway, including a multi-country project creating a new dataset on national policies for refugees and asylum seekers over time. Research assistants will be responsible for data collection (quantitative and qualitative), data analysis, as well as producing journal quality graphics and tables. Interest in immigration is a must, and a background in social science and statistics is preferred. 

Understanding the Change in Party Lines of the Chinese Communist Party Using Text as Data

Professor Yiqing Xu

This project will use text-as-data tools to describe the changes in party lines of the Chinese Communist Party during the past 70 years. Applicants should be proficient in reading and writing Chinese; be proficient in coding with R or Python (preferably both); and have intermediate-level knowledge of statistics or econometrics. Experience with natural language processing would be a plus.

Spies, Norms, and Conflict Management: The Development of Moscow Rules

Professor Amy Zegart

The research assistant will help examine the development of Cold War spycraft norms. The project will entail both theoretical and historical research on “Moscow Rules,” the informal, mutually accepted norms that Soviet and American spymasters established for dealing with each other during the Cold War and still maintain to some degree today. Key tasks will include theoretical research on the establishment of norms between countries and historical research on examples of “Moscow Rules.” Applicants should have strong writing and analytical skills, and prior knowledge of U.S. national security and foreign policy. Knowledge of U.S. intelligence and/or the Cold War is preferred.