Wharton Social Impact Research Experience (SIRE)

Summer 2024 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.

Apply Now

Applications are due February 8, 2024.

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.

“My summer experience has shown me my true passion for international development research and fueled my interest in pursuing a career focusing on global women’s economic empowerment.” Read more

Inaya Zaman, SIRE 2023, Bangladesh

“My experience was not just an academic endeavor but a journey of personal growth. Working under the guidance of faculty advisors, librarians, and subject-matter experts provided me with invaluable insights into the real-world implications of educational policies.” Read more

Michael Sun, SIRE 2023, Finland

“[My host professor] graciously agreed to not only host me as a visiting scholar, but also went out of her way to welcome me to the campus and to the city as a mentor and friend.” Read more

Stacy Shimanuki, SIRE 2022, Japan

“SIRE was an amazing opportunity to develop my independent research skills and lead a project with an international scope while pursuing my interest in the intersection of health care and business.” Read more

Catherine Michelutti, SIRE 2022, Australia

“I worked with nonprofit Saejowi, one of the oldest organizations assisting North Korean refugees with medical assistance and education.” Read more

Seo Yoon Yang, SIRE 2023, South Korea