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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect on the application?

Applicants will be expected to write a 300-500 word note introducing themselves to the professors leading the Humanities Research Intensive. We are interested in hearing about your previous experiences in the humanities, but please note that prior research experience is not necessary; enthusiasm and potential matter more than prior accomplishments. In your note, you will be asked to address the following prompts: 

  • Describe what you hope to learn from this experience, including what questions you have about humanities research methods.
  • Tell us about a question you wish you had an answer to, or about a topic (large or small) that you would love to explore one day.

*This section of the application has a limit of 3500 characters, or around 500 words.

What are the humanities? Which fields are eligible for participation in HRI?

The humanities study the nature and achievements of human culture and civilization. They include the interpretation of literature and the arts, historical inquiry, the study of meaning and values (in fields like philosophy, political theory, or religion), and any other disciplines or interdisciplinary fields focused on the interpretation of culture. In particular, they include the following Stanford departments: Anthropology, Art and Art History, Classics, the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL), East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC), English, History, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science (especially political theory), Religious Studies, and Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS). They also include much of the research conducted in interdisciplinary programs like African and African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. If you have a question about whether a particular subject falls within the humanities, feel free to contact us at

What if I don’t have any research experience?

We are excited to welcome students with no prior research experience. Selection for the fellowship is based on promise and evidence of intellectual engagement, not previous experience. During the week you will learn methods that are applicable to humanities research in many topics and disciplines. You will finish this fellowship feeling excited and ready to delve into more research with increasing independence over time.

Do I need to have an idea for a potential research project in order to apply?

No. This program is designed to teach you how to begin developing a research idea from scratch.

What will each day look like?

While the exact plans will be determined by the faculty, a typical day will look like this: Mornings you will gather as a group with the faculty, either in Special Collections at Green Library, at the Cantor Arts Center, or at the Stanford Humanities Center. The faculty will introduce materials and lead discussions about humanities research methods. This may include working with manuscripts or objects in the Stanford library collections, conducting additional research in the libraries and online, and discussing readings together. During the afternoons, you will develop the themes raised in the morning sessions through discussion sessions, one-on-one meetings with faculty, visits to other collections on campus (such as the East Asia Library and the Hoover Institution Library and Archives), and structured time for individual work. At the end of the week, you’ll celebrate with a festive group field trip to the Pacific coast.

What if I don’t know whether I want to major in the humanities?

Not a problem! This course is specifically designed for undeclared freshmen and sophomores who have some sort of interest in the humanities or arts, but who may not know what they intend to study. Participating in research is actually an excellent way to explore potential interests and discover whether they might be a good fit.

Is this program only for students interested in English, history, Chinese, or art history? What if I’m interested in another humanities subject, like philosophy or Spanish?

The Humanities Research Intensive will be taught in 2020 by Professors Ronald Egan (East Asian Languages and Cultures), Marci Kwon (Art and Art History), Elaine Treharne (English), and Caroline Winterer (History), and they will design some of the core activities around research collections and methods in their areas of expertise. The aim of the program, however, is to prepare students for research in all humanities disciplines, and the skills you learn will be generally applicable to many fields. You will also have opportunities, both during spring break and afterwards, to connect with faculty and advanced undergraduates from other departments and to learn about research collections relevant to your interests.

When can I apply?

The application is online and is due by Monday, November 4, at 11:59 pm.

When will I find out if I have been selected?

You will be notified during the week of November 11–15 if you have been selected or placed on the waitlist. Admitted students must commit to the program by Friday, November 22, at which point any remaining slots will be offered to students on the waitlist.

What are the research opportunities available to me after HRI?

Students who complete the Humanities Research Intensive course are eligible to apply for one or more special HRI Research Fellowships—which are not available to any other students—during the ensuring academic year. You can use these fellowships to support independent research projects of your own design, as well as collaborative work with a professor or lab on a faculty-led project. Fellowships range from $1,500 for part-time research during an academic quarter to $8,000 for 10-week, immersive research over the summer. See the HRI Fellowships Guide for full details.

In addition, Stanford offers many other opportunities to get involved in humanities research that are open to all students, including UAR Student Grants (Major Grants, Small Grants, Conference Grants, and Chappell Lougee Scholarships), Hume Humanities Honors Fellowships, Bing Honors College, and Research Assistantships at CESTA, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. HRI will prepare you to submit competitive applications for these opportunities. 

Will the unit from this course count toward my major?

You may register to receive credit for this course in Art and Art History; EALC (East Asian Languages and Cultures); English; or History. It will not count toward major requirements in these departments, however.

What Is the Time Commitment During Spring Break? 

The Humanities Research Intensive is a full-time, immersive experience that will occupy most of your time during spring break. The program begins with an opening reception on Sunday afternoon, March 22, and concludes with an all-day field trip to the coast on Saturday, March 28. In between, you will be in class from around 9 am to 5 pm each day, and there will be homework assignments in the evenings. You are expected to attend all sessions. In short, you should avoid making any other plans during spring break except on Saturday, March 21 or Sunday, March 29, which are free.