Build Learning through Inquiry in the Social Sciences (BLISS)


Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at 11:59pm

BLISS is a 10-week summer residential program for Harvard undergraduates, designed to provide a formative and substantive social science research experience and to promote community, creativity, and scholarship.
A diverse cohort of BLISS Fellows works on research projects led by Harvard faculty, and lives in one of the Harvard College houses with the other fellows in the Summer Undergraduate Research Village. In addition to conducting full-time research, BLISS Fellows participate in rich variety of programming, including both social and academic activities. To participate, undergrads in good standing must apply and be selected to work on one of the pre-designated BLISS research projects.

BLISS will run from Monday, June 5, 2023 through Thursday, August 10, 2023. Participants must commit to the full ten weeks of the program. 



Project descriptions will be added on a rolling basis from mid- to late- January each year.

Current Project Descriptions 

(Past projects can be found in the BLISS project archive.)


Download URAF Applications




Is BLISS open to non-Harvard undergraduates?
No. At this time only enrolled Harvard College students (in good standing) are eligible.

What does BLISS stand for?
Since the end of 2017 BLISS stands for “Build Learning through Inquiry in the Social Sciences”! It might also be said to represent the amazing summer experience we hope the Fellows will have.

Is the Program limited to applicants concentrating in the social sciences?
No, we accept applications from concentrators in any academic field, and in particular can envision fruitful pairings between social science faculty and students in fields like computer science, applied math, linguistics, statistics, human evolutionary biology, and so forth. However, BLISS applicants in non-social science concentrations must demonstrate how such cross-disciplinary research will contribute to their development as scholars.

Can I apply to BLISS if I have completed advanced coursework or already have undertaken a research experience in the social sciences?
Yes. BLISS has been designed to establish and cultivate a diverse community of scholars in the social sciences. Any continuing Harvard undergraduate is eligible as long they are committed to participating in the program and to conducting research in one of the BLISS-affiliated research projects. Note that preference will be given to individuals who have not yet participated in a summer research village program (e.g., PRISE, BLISS, PRIMO, SHARP, or SURGH).

Can I apply to BLISS if I'm an engineering concentrator who has done only one semester of social science coursework?
Yes. Any continuing Harvard undergraduate is eligible as long they are committed to performing social science research. Of course, your application would have to explain why you seek a research experience outside of your concentration, as well as how you relate the BLISS experience to your long-term academic and/or professional trajectory.

How important is academic achievement?
BLISS seeks to attract all undergraduates who are motivated to pursue social science research during the summer. Students must be in good academic standing and, as applicable, have taken coursework and/or had experience that would prepare them for the research projects they are interested in (some projects have prerequisites and some do not). The Program will draw from an academically diverse population. Individuals who have a demonstrated keen interest in the social sciences but have not yet had an opportunity to experience research are encouraged to apply.

Is financial need a factor in selecting BLISS Fellows?
Selection of BLISS Fellows will be need-blind. Financial aid recipients are encouraged to apply.

What does ". . . who are also interested in community, diversity, and the advancement of women and minority scholars" mean?
One of the goals of BLISS is to generate interest and enthusiasm for the development and preservation of stimulating undergraduate communities in research. Because women and minorities in many social science disciplines are underrepresented by notable margins at the professional level, there is an ongoing interest and commitment in the College to foster substantive and enriching opportunities that inspire these students to pursue their emerging academic and professional goals in those fields. In addition, the Program aspires to identify and assist individuals who may not have the opportunity to explore their research interests because of a need to work during the summer.

Do I have to be in one of those populations to be eligible?
No. The Program is designed to attract any continuing undergraduate who is interested in and can contribute to the principles of diverse community involvement and social science research.

Will BLISS help me get into graduate school?
Clearly, we cannot guarantee that BLISS will have any impact on graduate school admissions. However, BLISS Fellows will benefit from the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary network of peers, and develop close interaction and working relationships with faculty. Many undergraduates do not have the opportunity to participate in this kind of community until much later in their careers. In addition, prominent faculty will participate in activities with the Fellows throughout the Program and may serve as future mentors.

Where can I do my research and participate in BLISS?
BLISS applicants must apply to one of the current year’s faculty-initiated research projects. Applicants are encouraged to indicate up to three choices. To the extent possible, individuals selected to participate in BLISS will be paired with their first-choice preferences.

Are there any limitations to the kind of research I can do and still be eligible for BLISS?
You may only participate in one of the BLISS-designated research projects.

Can I get housing but not participate in the lunchtime and evening activities?
No. Since a key component of BLISS is contribution to the community and professional development, participants must be willing and available to attend enrichment activities and events during non-research work hours.

May I live off-campus?
No. All participants will live together in one of the River Houses.

Instead of the meals offered through the program, could I get a stipend and cook myself?
Unfortunately, no. Due to existing programs and refurbishing activities across campus during the summer, the Program is limited to the facilities of the residential house of the Summer Undergraduate Research Village. Please also note that weekend meals are not included in BLISS and very limited cooking facilities are available in the residential facilities.

What do you mean by “contribute to, and benefit from, the BLISS and greater Summer Undergraduate Research Village residential community”?
The residential community means much more than free housing for the summer. Throughout the ten weeks there will be numerous opportunities to engage with your fellow students socially, intellectually, emotionally, academically. The community includes undergraduates pursuing research in numerous fields, from Linguistics to Astrophysics, from Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies to African & African American Studies, and everything in between. Why would being part of this community be important to you, and what do you bring to it? (Examples of current or past community engagement, loosely defined, or ideas for the summer, are encouraged.)

Does the Program pay for health insurance?
As a continuing Harvard College undergraduate, you are covered by your regular Harvard health insurance during the summer.

I am planning to travel during the month of August. Could I miss the last two weeks of BLISS?
No. Individuals who are selected for BLISS must commit to the entire ten-week Program.

BLISS is a Harvard Summer Undergraduate Research Village Program (HSURV). HSURV programs provide a research experience with Harvard-affiliated faculty mentors, along with a stipend and on-campus housing and a partial meal plan for 10 weeks over the summer. Browse other programs in the Research Village: