Summer in South Asia Fellowships

Morgan Fitzgerald and Ariana Paredes-Vincent

Summer in South Asia 2015
2015 SISA Fellows Ariana Paredes-Vincent and Morgan Fitzgerald visiting a Sikh temple

Talia Rothman on the Ganga

Talia Rothman | Summer in South Asia 2015
Talia is an LSA Sophmore interning with Guria, an NGO in Varanasi, the Indian city famously situated on the banks of the river Ganges.

Ariana Paredes-Vincent

Ariana Paredes-Vincent | Summer in South Asia 2015
Ariana is an international studies major and a 2015 SISA fellow. She is volunteering with SETCO Foundation in Kalol, Gujarat.

Jamie Lutz in Kolkata--2015

Jamie Lutz | Summer in South Asia 2015
Jamie is a junior majoring in Architecture and a 2015 SISA fellow. Here she poses with one of her students in Kolkata.

Jacob Anderson in Murudeshwara

Jacob Anderson | Summer in South Asia 2015
Jacob wears the maize and blue in Murudeshwara, with Lord Shiva looking over his shoulder, not far from his post at the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital in Karnataka.

Morgan Fitzgerald in Rishikesh

Morgan Fitzgerald | Summer in South Asia 2015
Morgan takes a break from her sustainable farming project to visit Rishikesh and the abandoned ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who once inspired the Beatles.

Up In The Mountains (Dharamsala, India)
Photo by Man Kuan Lei, SISA 2014

Elisa Warner, Summer in South Asia 2014 Fellow

Elisa Warner, Summer in South Asia 2014 Fellow

SISA Image 1
Courtney Green--SISA 2013

Photo courtesy of Courtney Green, 2013 SISA Fellow

Up In The Mountains (Dharamsala, India)
Photo by Man Kuan Lei, SISA 2014

SISA Image 2
Rory Crook

Photo courtesy of SISA Fellow Rory Crook

Independent. Funded. Life Changing.


Now accepting applications for the
Summer in South Asia Fellowship


Thanks to a generous donation to the Center for South Asian Studies, undergraduate
students at U-M have an opportunity to design and carry out their own fellowship programs in India during the summer. This fellowship is intended for non-graduating students who have not already spent significant amounts of time in India. The program is designed to be flexible: you research and choose the NGO or business you'd like to be affiliated with, tell us what you want to study, design a program to accomplish your goals, and we will fund the best and most unique proposals to cover most of your costs.

We strongly encourage students to affiliate with a non-governmental organization or a business as part of your research project, but researching independently may also be acceptable. Paid internships will not be funded.

Learn more about SISA by reading about programs our alumni have designed for themselves.

EligibilityWhat sort of students are you looking for?

  • Non-graduating undergraduate students are eligible to apply (freshman, sophomores, and juniors).
  • Applicants should have no (or little) previous experience travelling to India.
  • Students of all academic disciplines and majors at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus are welcome to apply.
  • Students must initiate and implement individualized research projects; joint projects by multiple fellows will not be permitted.
  • There is no GPA requirement, although it is considered during the application process.
  • Paid internships cannot be funded.
  • Only available to students who have not previously been selected Summer in South Asia fellows.

Requirements for the ProgramWhat am I getting myself into?

Summer in South Asia fellows are required to complete the requirements of the fellowship.  If the student does not participate or successfully complete the requirements listed below, all or a portion of the funded must be returned.

  • A minimum of four weeks must be spent in India
  • Weekly blog posts are required while in India
  • A final research report will be due at the end of the summer
  • Students must share their experiences and present their research at a Colloquium open to the University community.

Application ProcessHow do I do this and when is it due?

Stage 1 applications must be completed by January 4, 2016.  A faculty review committee will invite selected stage one applicants to advance to stage two of the application process.  In the M-Compass application, students will submit the following application materials as part of their stage 1 application:

  • Program Abstract: In 150 words, outline your proposed research topic in India, including your overarching research question, an overview about why this research topic is important and how you intend to carry out the project.
  • Personal Statement: A one page personal statement that explains what motivates you to become a Summer in South Asia fellow.
  • Transcripts: A copy of your unofficial transcript(s).
  • Other: The remaining questions ask about relevant coursework, academic concentrations/minors, prior travel, anticipated graduation date and information about collaboration in India.

For those selected to move onto stage two of the application process, the following information must be completed by February 12, 2016:

  • Program Proposal: In 300 words, share your final program proposal.
  • NGO/Organizational Affiliation: Describe your role as a volunteer with the organization that has provided you with a letter of invitation to volunteer with them.
  • Independent Research: If you will not be affiliated with an NGO or organization, explain the resources you will utilize to conduct research independently in India.
  • Logistical Plans: Provide a summary of the research and planning you have done concerning flights, transportation, accommodations and health/safety issues.
  • Budget Worksheet: Complete a budget worksheet to determine your expenses in India.
  • Recommendations: Two recommendation forms must be completed.

Final award decisions will be issued by mid-February and fellowship recipients will receive additional requirements at that time.

Examples of Possible Programs What do you mean by "self-directed research projects?"


Figment from 2014 SISA Fellow--and Waste Warriors intern-- Man Kuan Lei.
This video for the sole use of the CSAS Summer in South Asia program.

All projects MUST be self-directed research projects and cannot be paid internships or jobs. 

  • Swami Vivekanada Youth Movement (SVYM). This organization works in areas to development new innovations in civil society in India, through grassroots to policy-level action in health, education, and community development sectors. In the past, Fellows have worked with this organization in both the health and education sectors. They have assisted the organization by teaching courses and conducted independent research projects on the effectiveness of different teaching methods and strategies in nursing in a hospital setting.
  • Jeevika Development Society. Jeevika works to empower rural and lower class women through financial and social means. In the past, a Fellow worked within Jeevika to help assist in women’s groups, create reports for the organization, and developed her own research project while there. The Fellow examined the commonalities between oppressions faced by women with different identities and the structure organizations use to create interventions.
  • Waste Warriors. Waste Warriors collaborate with individuals, municipalities, schools, and businesses to provide door-to-door waste collection. They are working to provide a reasonably priced subscription to waste collection in an effort to keep communities clean. An alum of the fellowship worked alongside the Waste Warriors to try to improve the lives of the waste workers and develop ideas to make the project more efficient. 
  • Fellows have worked in a variety of different capacities for NGOs, educational institutions, hospitals, and with independent scholars. If there is an independent research element it qualifies as a proposal for this program.
  • In the past, Fellows have also done preliminary work for an honor’s thesis. We hope that this experience will be beneficial for each Fellow in the future. Doing preliminary research for a thesis is a great way to make that happen.
  • The proposals do not have to be involved in civil society, medicine, environment, and so on. One could seek out an apprenticeship that complements one’s academic work. For instance, an art or art history student might apprentice with a master Indian artist or artisan.
  • To find the NGO, organization, institution, or individual that’s right for you, first find a topic that you’re passionate about and then try doing a basic internet search for a place to start.


Summary of Important DatesDo I still have time for everything?


     September, 2015    Application Cycle Begins
     January 4, 2015 Stage 1 Applications Due
     February 12, 2016 Stage 2 Applications Due
     Mid-February, 2016 Final Award Decisions Announced


ContactWhat if I still have questions?

For more information about the Summer in South Asia Fellowship or to schedule an advising session, please contact:

Janelle Fosler, Fellowships Coordinator
Center for South Asian Studies
1080 S. University Ave., Ste. 3624
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Telephone: 734-647-7342