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SIG Stipends Program

To donate in support of the Stipends program, please click here

“[Last summer] I interned with a law firm close to home. I would have gladly participated in a public policy/politics internship, but I could not afford to live in DC with an unpaid internship.” – Human Biology Sophomore (Undergraduate Survey, Winter 2011)

What are the stipends?

In short, the stipend programs provides funding for unpaid public policy-related internships and targets students in majors that normally would not expose them to public policy options. It aims to help students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such internships as well as underclassmen since they have fewer summer opportunities. This year, SIG plans on giving out 15-20 stipends to Stanford students.

The stipends program has supported students in a variety of different majors, from computer science to philosophy and chemical engineering to French, and has supported internships in areas like media, health, art, labor, development, and environmental policy. Their internships have taken them all over the world, including Uganda, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Honolulu, Washington DC, and Houston.

Read about and contact past stipend recipients here.


In 2012, SIG launched a three-year pilot effort to fill the critical gap in offerings while substantially advancing the Haas Center’s strategic mission and public policy pathway. The SIG Stipends program offers an unprecedented opportunity by supporting otherwise unpaid summer public policy internships for students who would be unable to participate without a SIG Stipend.

SIG Stipends provide financial support to qualified students to carry out a 9–10 week internships and participate in preparation and post-internship activities. Stipends cover living costs and summer earnings, which might be expected under the terms of each student’s financial aid package. They also provide public policy exposure for:

  • Science, technology, and engineering students early in their undergraduate careers, who may not be exposed to the policy implications of their academic interests; would not qualify for SIG, Haas Center or other fellowships that are based on previous experiences; and who traditionally choose a well-paid technology sector internship over public policy internships for which they usually cannot receive funds
  • Students with financial need, who would typically forego an unpaid internship in public policy due to the need to earn money during the summer
  • •Younger students who seek to explore the intersection between their interests and public policy and for whom a positive public policy experience could affect their Stanford trajectory

In the short term, the public service and government institutions involved benefit from the efforts and youthful perspectives of Stanford students with new technical skills and evolving expertise. In the long term, generations of capable students exposed to public policy and the political arena as undergraduates can have a significant impact on the nation and the world, no matter which sector they choose for a career.

Why Stipends?

For five decades, Stanford in Government (SIG), a student-led affiliate of the Haas Center for Public Service, has supported hundreds of students pursuing summer public policy experiences through pre-arranged, funded fellowships. SIG fellows work with organizations around the world. In 2012, 161 students applied for 39 SIG fellowships.

In preparation for its 50th anniversary, SIG assessed its current fellowship program and the changing needs of Stanford’s economically and academically diverse undergraduate student body. In a survey of 500 undergraduates during winter 2011, SIG learned that 40.6 percent of respondents would have chosen summer public policy internships if funding were available. Eighty percent of students who failed to receive a fellowship from SIG or the Haas Center did not end up pursuing a public service experience. In general, most SIG fellowships are awarded to students with previous internship experience and from majors such as public policy, economics, political science, and international relations. The current selection of SIG fellowships does not cover many students’ policy interests.

What have we achieved so far?

In summer 2012, SIG funded 11 internships around the country and the world in media, health, art, labor, development, and environmental policy. Stipends recipients represented a variety of majors across the sciences and humanities. Forty-three students applied for only 11 stipends—an acceptance rate of close to 25 percent. Expanding the program enables us to accept more qualified applicants, without lowering our standards.

How can I help the continuation and expansion of the SIG Stipends Program?

The Haas Center for Public Service has been given permission to raise $382,636 in expendable funds (or a $4 million endowment) to support up to 40 stipends in future years. The first year of the program demonstrated strong demand for SIG Stipends. Most applicants came from “non-traditional” backgrounds and demonstrated need for a stipend in order to be able to explore the path of public policy. Click here to donate in support of SIG’s Stipend Program. You may also donate to the Stanford Fund and indicate that you would like your donation to be earmarked for SIG Stipends.