CSWEP: AEA/NSF Summer Economics Fellowships to Advance the Careers of Women and Underrepresented Minorities

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where do I get an application form?
A: Starting in 2015, the application form is available as an online submission tool.  Visit: http://bit.ly/1J94H0b.  Faculty should still be directed to submit their letter of recommendation (one is required for graduate students and suggested for junior faculty) via email to cswep@econ.duke.edu.

Q: What’s the difference between “Participating programs” and “Cooperating programs?”
A: Applications to the Participating programs all come to Summer Fellowship program. Pretty much all the material here applies to the Participating programs. Several institutions are enthusiastic about promoting the roles of women and under-represented minorities, but their internal processes don’t quite match with our program’s set-up. Some need different application deadlines. Others may want to engage an applicant in an internal research project or may have restrictions arising out of concerns about intellectual property rights. Details will differ across programs.

Q: How do I apply to “Participating programs” and “Cooperating programs?”
A: One application—through us—covers all Participating programs. You need to apply directly to any Cooperating program of interest. Applying to both is just fine.

Q: How long should my project description be?
A: One page or less. (Really. Including references, notes, appendices, etc.)

Q: How should I format my proposal?
A: You are free to use any format you want for your proposal as long as it fits within one page. And you would want to make the best use of your one page description of your research plans to convince the sponsors that your research is worthwhile.

Q: Can I propose multiple projects to increase the probability of a match with a sponsor?
A: You can, but one strong research proposal is much more likely to grab a sponsor’s attention than are several weaker ones.

Q: Can I have co-workers on my project?
A: We leave it up to you to decide what you want to do and describe your plans as long as your description fits within one page.  You can have a co-worker or even co-workers on your project.  Your co-worker can be anyone you choose.  But our sponsors are free to offer to hire the fellows they want.  So you would not want co-workers who might detract from your application.

Q: What about a cover letter?
A: A cover letter is not necessary; the online application form has comment box you may use if there’s something really special we should know that doesn’t fit into the overall application.

Q: Do you accept faxes or emails?
A: We strongly prefer that applicants utilize the online application form, however, if this proves problematic for you, you may request a PDF version of the application from cswep@econ.duke.edu that can be either submitted with your CV and proposal via email or faxed to 919-684-8974.  Faculty letters of recommendation may be emailed or faxed.

Q: Is the program open to non-Americans?

A: Definitely. But you should be aware of three points. First, it is your responsibility to be sure that your visa would allow you to work in the U.S. for one of the sponsoring agencies. Note that student visas may have restrictions and that H1B visas almost certainly have restrictions. Second, our definition of under-represented minority does depend on nationality. Third, in principle, a particular sponsoring agency might have further limitations based on citizenship or visa status.

Q: Can you help me with a visa?
A: Maybe. (U.S. immigration rules can be somewhat arcane. Neither the program nor the sponsoring institutions can give you legal advice.) We generally cannot provide H1B- or J-visas. Sometimes the sponsor can help with a B1 (visiting scholar visa). Where visa rules do not permit a stipend to the fellow, sometimes agencies are able to cover expenses in lieu of the stipend. Canadian and Mexican citizens should check out the possibility of a trade NAFTA visa.

Q: I’m a sponsor. Can you advise me on helping with visas.
A: The only advice we have to pass along was received from a sponsor with a good legal department. It is possible that CDS International, http://www.cdsintl.org/, may be able to help with J-1 visas.

Q: Is the program open to graduate students and junior faculty located outside the United States?
A: Yes, so long as the other criteria are met.

Q: What is the definition of “under-represented minority?”
A: We use the definition of “under-represented minority” that has been set up for the AEA Pipeline program: US citizens, permanent residents, and refugees who are African-American, Hispanic, or Native Americans.

Q: I’m male and don’t fit the definition of “under-represented minority.” Am I still eligible?
A: Definitely. Please use the space on the information form to let us know how your participation will advance the role of women or under-represented minorities in economics.

Q: My dissertation isn’t quite rolling yet. Should I still apply?
A: You should have a well defined research project. If you’re not yet at the “well-defined” stage, it would be better to wait for another year.

Q: Are fellowships available during the academic year?
A: No.

Q: Are Masters students eligible?
A: No.

Q: Are undergraduates eligible?
A: No.

Q: I’m a more senior economist. Am I eligible?
A: No.

Q: I don’t have a research plan, but I’d love to spend the summer as a research assistant. Am I eligible?
A: No.

Q: As an applicant, how do I get find an institution to sponsor me?
A: You don’t. The program supplies the sponsors.

Q: There’s an institution at which I’d like to have a fellowship, but it isn’t on your list. What should I do?
A: Institutions need to be on our sponsoring list to participate. If you have a good contact at the agency that might be interested in joining the program, ask them to contact us.

Q: My institution might want to become a sponsor. What do we need to do?
A: Essentially, you need to agree to sponsor one or more fellows and sign up! You pay for the fellows during their summer fellowship. The program is designed to keep hassle for the sponsoring agencies to a minimum. Contact cswep@econ.duke.edu for more information.

Q: Suppose my institution becomes a sponsor and then can’t find a suitable fellow?
A: We expect sponsors to make a good-faith effort, but we understand that sometimes a match can’t be worked out.

Q: Can my institution host more than one fellow?
A: Sure. Several institutions have done so and report that it worked out particularly well.

Q: As a sponsor, can we restrict the research area for fellows we might sponsor?
A: We expect you to pick fellows who match well with your institution’s interests precisely so that you can mentor their research.

Q: Who chooses the fellows?
A: The program’s screening committee sends a list to each sponsoring institution, which makes the final choice. The list is screened according to each institution’s specifications. Some institutions have asked to see all candidate material, others have asked the program to provide a pre-screened short list.

Q: How much is compensation for the summer?
A: Details vary by sponsoring institution, but compensation is roughly what the institution would normally pay a visiting economist with equivalent experience.

Q: Does the program pay living or travel expenses?
A: No. (Except in special cases where the sponsor and fellow both prefer payment of expenses in lieu of a stipend. Usually done only to comply with visa restrictions.)

Q: Do I need to be a member of CSWEP, CSMGEP, or the AEA?
A: No.

Q: I missed the deadline on the website. Can I still apply?
A: We are fairly informal, so if we haven’t started sorting through applications we’ll take a late application. Otherwise, no. You can email us to check if you like.

Q: When will I hear back from the program?
A: Sponsoring institutions will contact directly those applicants they’d like to offer a fellowship. We expect to initial offers to be made by the end of March and final decisions by may 1.

Q: How many recommendations should I have sent?
A: One is required for graduate students, one recommended for junior faculty. Some sponsors prefer a second letter so you can have two letters sent, but it’s not required.

Q: How should the letter of recommendation be transmitted?
A: The recommender should email it directly to cswep@econ.duke.edu.

Q: Does the “fit” with the sponsoring institutions affect my chances of getting a fellowship.
A: Yes. A research agenda that is aligned with the interests of the sponsoring institution, makes for a better experience for both the fellow and the institution.

Q: I’m a junior faculty member. Who should write me a letter of recommendation?
A: A letter isn’t required for a junior faculty member, but will probably work to your advantage. Any senior economist is fine. Letters usually come from a dissertation advisor, coauthor or department chair.

Q: How long is the fellowship period?
A: Typically about eight to twelve weeks. Details are negotiable between the fellow and the sponsoring institution.

Q: Exactly when during the summer should I be in residence?
A: Details are negotiable between the fellow and the sponsoring institution, but researchers at the host institution may be away at conferences or on vacation at various times. You should discuss the best time to be in residence with your host.

Q: I have geographic preferences.
A: If they’re strong, tell us about them on the applicant information form.

Q: I have various summer plans. Can I do a series of short visits?
A: It’s best to have a single, long uninterrupted stay.

Q: What are the mentoring responsibilities of the sponsoring institution?
A: We figure the sponsoring institutions are already pretty savvy at nurturing young economists and don’t need instruction. But here are a few suggestions based on feedback from previous participants.
    1. Arrange an informal meeting at the beginning of the program to discuss the fellow’s plan for the summer as well as substantive research issues.
    2. Require a seminar presentation at the end of the fellowship period.
    3. Assign someone to be a mentor on career issues, preferably someone who is not also in the position of advising on substantive research issues.
    4. Include the fellow’s work in your working paper series, when appropriate.

Q: Who pays for the program?
A: The sponsoring institutions pay for the individual fellows. The NSF is paying for administrative costs.

Q: Who runs the program?
A: The program is run by an ad hoc committee appointed by the chairs of two committees of the American Economic Association (AEA, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AEA/), the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP, http://www.cswep.org/) and the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AEA/CSMGEP/).

Q: How long has the program been in operation?
A: The first fellowships were in summer 2007.

Q: Suppose I still have questions after reading the FAQs?
A: Contact CSWEP by email at cswep@econ.duke.edu.

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