Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars

About the Program

The Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars program is an enhanced independent research opportunity for outstanding Elliott School juniors and seniors. Started in 2009, the program provides Scholars with support and resources to produce polished and meaningful work that can be submitted for publication, conference participation, or as part of grant, fellowship, or graduate study applications.

Highlights of the program include:

  • One-credit Pass/No Pass course in the fall to learn about research skills, resources and opportunities, to share research updates with peers, and to write a preliminary draft of the research paper.
  • Three-credit graded Writing in the Disciplines (WID) course in the spring, focusing on peer critique of preliminary drafts of the research papers and completion of the final draft.
  • Close work with a faculty advisor.
  • Pairing with an Elliott School graduate student mentor.
  • Research stipend of $500 to be used for research materials and experiences and to cover lunch with the faculty advisor and coffee with the graduate student mentor; possibility of applying for additional funding for special opportunities.
  • Peer support throughout the research and writing process.
  • Presentation of research at an on-campus academic conference at the end of the spring semester.
  • Publication in an academic journal (a printed compilation of the final papers).

Application Information

The application period for the 2016-2017 Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars program is now closed.

Application for the 2017-2018 program will begin in Spring 2017. In the meantime, you may use the 2016-2017 application which appears below, as a point of reference.

2016-2017 Application


The 2016-2017 Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars program is open to Elliott School undergraduates with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 who will graduate in the following terms: Spring 2017, Summer 2017, Fall 2017, or Spring 2018.

Application Materials

Application Resources

Application Process Timeline

If interested in applying, please try to attend one info session and the proposal workshop. These sessions are not mandatory but are recommended. You will not be penalized for not attending. The materials that will be distributed at these meetings are available using the links above, so if you cannot attend a session, you will still have access to all materials.

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2:30 to 4:30 pm in the Academic Advising Conference Room, 1957 E Street, Suite 302 — Information Session
    The first half of this session will be an overview of the various undergraduate research options at the Elliott School, and the second half will focus on the Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm in the Academic Advising Conference Room, 1957 E Street, Suite 302 — Information Session
    The first half of this session will be an overview of the various undergraduate research options at the Elliott School, and the second half will focus on the Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 3:30 to 4:30 pm in the Academic Advising Conference Room, 1957 E Street, Suite 302 — Research Proposal Workshop
  • Wednesday, April 13 — Applications Due by 6:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 12 — Applicants will be notified by 5:00 pm on this date as to whether they have been selected.

NOTE: Selected applicants who confirm their intention to participate will be registered for Fall 2016 course (IAFF 3192) by the Office of Academic Advising & Student Services. Applicants should plan their schedules accordingly.

If you have questions that are not addressed in the FAQs, you may email Amy Stearns, Associate Director of Academic Advising, at serridge@gwu.edu.

NOTE: Ms. Stearns is not available to meet with students individually about their applications or answer questions via email that are specific to your topic and proposal.

2015-2016 Undergraduate Scholars Final Presentations

The 2015-2016 Undergraduate Scholars presented their research on April 13, 2016 from 11:00am - 3:00pm in 1957 E Street, Lindner Commons - 6th floor in the following panels:

Religion, State, and Migration: Global Forces in Development
Ethan Nava, Caroline Anapol, Kelsey Hatchitt, Hannah Hassani
Moderated by Brittany Goetsch, Graduate Student Mentor

Democratic Transitions and Peacebuilding
Michelle Avrutin, Aleksej Demjanski, Shannon McKeown, Nicole Compton
Moderated by Cory Smith, Graduate Student Mentor

Identity Formation and Social Change
Anabelle Suitor, Claire Crawford, Janie McDermott
Moderated by Liliana Martinez, Graduate Student Mentor

China as a Global Actor: Economic Engagement, Space Debris Mitigation, and Non-traditional Security
Gerard Gayou, Tianyao Xiao, Marguerite Wedeman
Moderated by Andrew Arveseth, Graduate Student Mentor

Apply to be a Graduate Mentor!

The application period for the 2016-2017 Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars Graduate Mentorship Program is now closed.

We are looking for graduate students who are completing their degrees in May 2017 or later to serve as mentors for top undergraduates participating in the Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars program next year!

Mentors play a crucial role in the development of the undergraduate's project. The general academic and professional guidance mentors provide is also of great importance. Mentors discuss their research and professional interests in the international affairs field and serve as a research and career resource.

If you are interested, you can view the working titles of next year's Undergraduate Scholars below. We will do our best to pair Scholars with mentors whose expertise or interest is relevant to the research topic. Even when a Scholar's project does not precisely fit the mentor's professional or academic focus, the relationship is still meaningful.

Although the relationship with the Scholar is the primary benefit of graduate student participation, mentors will also receive a one-time award of $200 and gain experience that they can include on their résumés.

Mentors will meet their Scholars at a kickoff reception at the beginning of the fall semester. Each Mentor/Scholar pair will have coffee together (paid for with the Scholar's research stipend) both semesters and stay in touch throughout the year as the Scholar's project develops.  Mentors also serve as moderators at the final presentations of the Undergraduate Scholars, which will take place in April 2017. Additionally, mentors are expected to attend the single spring class session during which their mentee's rough draft will be reviewed.

Mentoring is a fun and fulfilling experience that requires a reasonable but real commitment to the goals of the program. Mentors must participate in both the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters and must therefore be graduating in May 2017 or later.

If you would like to see the 2014 - 2015 Scholars and mentors in action, you can watch the final presentations here (links to other panels at bottom of page). You can also access the 2014 – 2015 journal here

Mentor Obligations

  • Remain in touch with the Scholar throughout the year (meetings; emails; phone calls)
  • Have coffee with the Scholar at least once each semester
  • Attend the Mentor Training Session early in the fall semester
  • Attend the Kickoff Reception early in the fall semester
  • Attend one spring class session when the mentee's rough draft will be reviewed (class meets Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; individual date assignments TBD)
  • Attend the Final Research Conference in April

Specific dates are TBD but will be communicated as early as possible. Additional activities may be added to the calendar.

Application Information

If you are interested in applying, please complete the following application steps by June 8.

You may contact Sarah Denes, Graduate Academic Advisor for Academic Advising & Student Services (sdenes@gwu.edu), with questions.  

Mentor applicants will be notified as to whether they have been paired with an Elliott School Undergraduate Scholar by 5:00 pm on July 13.

Working titles of the incoming 2016-2017 Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars

  • The Impact of Political Textbooks on Japanese National Identity
  • Student Activism and Textbook Battles in Taiwan
  • Comparative Risk Assessment of Foreign Fighters and Homegrown Terrorism in the Syrian Civil War
  • Development Leadership in Haiti: Efficacy of International and Domestic Actors in the Post-Quake Period
  • A Discourse on China's Soft Power: Strength and Limits
  • Syrian Refugee Education in Jordan: Setting and Access
  • Can the "Gig Economy" Provide Decent Jobs -- A Cross-Country Comparative Perspective
  • Analysis of the Change in "Push" Factors of Emigration from Guatemala and Obligations Under International Law
  • The Role of Conflict in Altering Perception: Rwandese Genocide Survivors' Perceptions of Burundians
  • Interpreting and Remembering History: Case of South Korean and Taiwanese History Textbooks
  • Instrumentalization of Women's Rights in Egypt's Arab Spring
  • Social and Economic Development in Latin America: The Role of Indigenous Crops
  • The Gendered Tactics of Boko Haram: Origins and Evolution Since 2002
  • Cycles of Terrorism: The Impact of Western Response to Terror Attacks on Daesh
  • Explaining BJP Candidate Recruitment in the 2014 Indian National and Maharashtra Elections
  • U.S.-China Bilateral Investment: National Security Concerns vs. Economic Investment Benefits