Wharton Social Impact Research Experience (SIRE)

Summer 2023 Program Description

What is the Wharton Social Impact Research Experience?

The Wharton Undergraduate Division will offer up to ten awards to support undergraduate research that promotes both economic and social value either domestically or abroad. Projects will be designed and carried out by the students under the guidance of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members. Students’ projects will culminate in oral presentations and written research papers that will be posted on ScholarlyCommons@Penn.

Participants will receive a taxable award of up to $6,000 for approved travel and lodging expenses¹—to be paid in two installments, with the second installment to be disbursed in the fall after the final research paper is approved by the faculty advisor and properly submitted along with the blog, and other  requirements to the Wharton Undergraduate Division.

What are the program requirements?

SIRE participants are expected to perform a research project during the summer under the guidance of a faculty advisor, remaining in frequent contact with the advisor as is consistent with making appropriate progress on the project. Participants are also expected to do the following:

  • Spend the equivalent of at least 20 hours per week over a two-month period engaged in research on the approved project and not accept alternative employment exceeding 20 hours per week or take more than one concurrent summer course.
  • Submit a rough draft of the research paper by mid-August and a final paper (approved by the faculty advisor) at the end of the research project.
  • Upload the final, approved paper to ScholarlyCommons.
  • Submit a blog post to communicate your research experience and/or findings to a broader audience (e.g., on this or other Wharton websites).
  • Present your research at a symposium in the fall or spring semester after your research summer.

In order to receive the second award installment, the final paper, blog, and other requirements must be submitted and the final paper must be uploaded to ScholarlyCommons on or before September 15. Non-compliance with program deadlines and expectations above could result in forfeiture of the award.

How do students apply?

All Wharton undergraduates in good standing are eligible. SIRE is only open to Wharton students. 

As long as the proposed project promotes economic and social value, there is considerable latitude regarding the specific focus of and methods for the research project. It may be a theoretical or applied project and may utilize quantitative or qualitative research methods. Applicants must have a faculty advisor signed on to provide advice on their project. Priority will be given to those working with a Wharton faculty member.  For information to assist in identifying a faculty advisor with expertise in your area of interest, please visit the Wharton faculty directory.

A successful proposal should generally include a compelling, well-designed research project including methodology, strong academic achievement by the applicant, and an outstanding essay regarding program participation.


Applications are due February 9, 2023.

Applications may continue to be accepted after the deadline on a space-available basis. Email your interest to Dr. Utsav Schurmans at schurman@wharton.upenn.edu.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about the program, first review the SIRE FAQ. If you have additional questions, you may contact Dr. Utsav Schurmans, Director of Research and Scholars Programs (schurman@wharton.upenn.edu).

¹ Monetary awards constitute taxable income. If you are a U.S. citizen, taxes will not be withheld from your award, but you will receive a 1099 tax form from the University of Pennsylvania at the end of the year for tax reporting purposes. If you are an international student, the University will withhold 30% of your award amount for tax purposes, barring any tax treaties that may exist with your home country. International students can find information about Penn’s tax policies at the Office of the Comptroller.

Samidha Sane stands in front of a cherry blossom tree. She smiles and has head tilted and her hand in her hair. on “SIRE was an opportunity to explore an under researched, underreported yet critical issue – transit equity – all while pursuing my passions in urban studies and gender equity.” Read more

Samidha Sane, SIRE 2021

“Through [SIRE], I sought to merge my passion for migrant workers with the actionable and effective solutions that finance and financial inclusion bring…” Read more

Stacy Shimanuki, SIRE 2021

“SIRE’s flexibility gave me the opportunity to adapt my research project in the dynamic world of COVID-19. I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn so much about Lithuania and Sustainable Development!” Read more

Zach Vlessing, SIRE 2021

“While the task of planning and executing a complete research project might seem daunting to some, I found the experience to be both deeply rewarding as I learned from my mistakes and challenged myself to take on more responsibilities and be more thorough.” Read more

Angela Shen, SIRE 2021

James Meng, SIRE 2020“The COVID-19 pandemic quickly shifted my plans and forced me to rethink my research approach. After consulting with my faculty advisor, we decided it would be best to focus more on the business ethics and legal standards by which banning cashless businesses could be upheld.” Read more

James Meng, SIRE 2020