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Summer Opportunities in Engineering Research and Leadership (Summer First)

Members of the 2023 Summer First cohort pose for picture in front of an archway at the Stanford campus main quad.

An early introduction to research

The eight-week immersion into Stanford's research culture is designed to help first-year PhD students find their place and thrive — personally and academically.

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The goal of this program — also known as Summer First — is to give incoming PhD students a jumpstart on their academic journey. Summer First Fellows participate in a quarter full of engaging research, community building, professional development, and excursions across the Bay Area. By starting a quarter early, students are well acquainted with campus life, and ready to focus their efforts on research and an enriching doctoral experience.

This eight-week onboarding experience aims to facilitate the transition to Stanford Engineering for a small cohort of incoming Ph.D. students. Summer First aims to provide a robust onboarding and orientation to help facilitate the transition of incoming first-generation students (first in their family to pursue a Ph.D) and students from low-income communities to the School of Engineering.

Program Dates

Summer First 2024 will be held in person on Stanford's campus from Monday, June 24, 2024 to Friday, August 16, 2024.

Program Components

Summer First provides Fellows from a range of engineering disciplines the opportunity to gain exposure to the wealth of resources on campus, and explore the research environment(s) in their own doctoral programs. This experience effectively serves as a supplementary research rotation, enabling students to explore research options over an additional quarter. Fellows also engage in literature discussion groups, professional development workshops, excursions, mentoring opportunities, and social activities to foster a sense of belonging and build community.

In addition to onboarding, a stipend, and professional development workshops, Fellows will also be provided 3 units of tuition.

Selection Process 

Incoming doctoral students will be nominated by their home department in the School of Engineering. Upon approval of the nomination, invitations will be extended to candidates in late March/early April. 


Summer First is hosted by the Equity and Inclusion Initiatives team in the Dean’s Office of Student Affairs. 

Contact our team at