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Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowships

Independent.   Funded.   Life Changing.

Organized in 2006 by the Center for South Asian Studies with a generous donation from an anonymous donor, the Summer in South Asia Fellowship has provided over 70 students with funding for research and internships in India.

Undergraduate students at U-M who receive a Summer in South Asia Fellowship can design and carry out their own summer fellowship programs in India. The program is designed to be flexible: you research and choose an organization you’d like to intern with, you decide what you want to research, and you design a program to accomplish your goals.

SiSA Fellows have focused on a wide variety of topics related to their academic degrees and/or areas of personal interest. This fellowship has provided students with opportunities ranging from building solar panels with community members in a rural area, to working on a Bollywood set. Participating in this fellowship provides students with invaluable international experiences that are transformative and leave a lasting personal, academic and professional impact on their lives.

No prior research or professional experience is required, and staff members at CSAS are available to assist throughout the application process.

Learn more about the impact of SiSA by reading about programs our alumni have designed for themselves over the past ten years, and watch the video of the 2016 fellows discussing their projects.


What sort of students are you looking for?

To be eligible for a Summer in South Asia fellowship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Non-graduating undergraduate students from all academic disciplines
  • Applicants must not have spent a significant amount of time in India
  • Joint projects by multiple fellows are not permitted
  • There is no GPA requirement, although GPA is considered during the application process
  • Applicants may have additional sources of funding, but may not receive financial compensation for their internship work

Funding Amount

Can I afford to do this?

Students will receive $3,000 total.

This typically is sufficient to cover all or most costs associated with travelling to—and time spent in—India.

Fellowship Options

What am I going to do in India?

The Summer in South Asia Fellowship offers students the option to choose between pursuing an internship with a final project, or conducting independent research while in India.  We strongly encourage students to do an internship with final project, but strong independent research proposals will be considered for funding.

Internship with Final Project

The Summer in South Asia Fellowship is most commonly awarded to students who do internships while simultaneously conducting independent research on a topic of their choice. Students typically choose their internship site and research topic based on academic and/or personal interests.

Examples of past internships and final projects include:

  • An internship on Lifeline Express, the world’s first hospital on a train, that has medically served more than 100,000 people in rural India. The final research paper explored whether mobile health care is safe, effective and efficient and how this type of care could fill a needed void in rural healthcare.
  • An internship with an NGO that fights the sexual exploitation of women and girls with a focus on forced prostitution and human trafficking. The final research paper explored the work the organization did with second-generation prostitution victims and factors that make this population vulnerable to prostitution.
  • An internship with an organization that provides education to children who reside in slums. The final project focused on mapping informal settlements along railroad tracks using GIS software.
  • Many more examples can be found by checking out our Year by Year Impact on India.

The Fellowships Coordinator at the Center for South Asian Studies is available to assist throughout the application process—providing guidance on internship sites, research topics and logistical arrangements associated with travel.

Independent Research/Project

Strong independent research proposals or final projects will be considered for fellowship funds. Applicants who select this option will spend their time in India focused on research or their final project, and therefore the expectations are greater.

Examples of past independent work done by fellows includes the documentation of waste through photography and videography or an independent study of the factors associated with textile industrialization to determine whether it follows the general Indian wealth disparity trend.

If selecting this option, it is recommended that students have:

  • Prior experience with conducting research
  • Knowledge of the topic they will be focusing on
  • At least one person willing to serve as an advisor. This person can be based in the US or in India.
  • Comfort with travelling independently in India

Application Process

How and where do I start the process?

It is strongly recommended that applicants start the application process as early as possible.

Applicants should schedule an advising session when beginning the application process.  Schedule an advising session here.

The application requires you to complete the following components on M-Compass:

  • Program Abstract
  • Personal Statement
  • Information on internship site (if applicable)
  • Budget
  • 2 Recommendation forms
  • A copy of unofficial transcripts

Summary of Important Dates

Do I still have time for everything?
     September 1, 2017
Application Cycle Begins
     February 21, 2018
Final Application Deadline
     March 9, 2018
Final Award Decisions Announced

Requirements for the Program

What am I getting myself into?

Summer in South Asia fellows are required to complete the requirements of the fellowship.  If the student does not successfully complete the requirements listed below, all or a portion of the funds must be returned.

  • A minimum of four weeks must be spent in India
  • Weekly blog posts while in India
  • A final research report
  • Students must share their experiences and present their research at the Summer in South Asia Symposium, which is open to the university community

The Summer in South Asia Fellow Blog

The Summer in South Asia Fellow Blog

While in India, Summer in South Asia Fellows are expected to participate in a shared blog. This blog gives them an opportunity to keep family, friends at home, each other, and the CSAS staff up to date on their activities as they encounter some of the greatest challenges and most satisfying encounters of their lives.

So read the blog. And if it is not currently summer, and no one is currently blogging, you are welcome to browse back through some previous SiSA blogs as well.

SiSA Symposium Videos

So what exactly did the former fellows do in India?

Watch them talk about their projects and experiences here.


What if I still have questions?  

For more information about the Summer in South Asia Fellowship please sign up for an advising appointment or contact:

Janelle Fosler, Fellowships Coordinator
Center for South Asian Studies
Weiser Hall
500 Church Street, Suite 400
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1042
Telephone: 734-615-4059