Doctoral Fellows: A Closer Look

July 11, 2017
Alumni Stories, Programs & Research


The Summer Doctoral Fellows program at the University of Pennsylvania is a four-week intensive program for a small cohort of PhD students researching aspects of social impact. In their cohort, Fellows propose a draft of a research paper, and spend a month workshopping one another’s papers. Fellows’ papers investigate a broad range of research questions, including areas such as: nonprofit management, volunteerism, international civil society, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropic studies. The program is directed by Dr. Peter Frumkin in the School of Social Policy & Practice, providing tutors one-one mentoring to each Fellow alongside a lecture series given throughout the month.

Jessica Haynie – a Fellow from North Carolina State University – chose to focus on an area largely unexplored: The Overhead Myth. “With my practical experience before coming into the program I worked with a lot of nonprofits. I found a common problem that organizations face with their funds. I see this with 9/10 organizations I work with. There has been some efforts to address it but there is a big gap in the research. I was able to access a dataset and form my paper to answer some of these questions.”

The program exists to provide a comprehensive experience for Fellows to focus solely on their study. It provides a unique opportunity for students to fully immerse themselves in an academic environment with constant support from like-minded peers and well-respected scholars in the field. The program aims to transform the research and work Fellows have done prior into a publishable paper by the conclusion of the program.

The program is is as versatile as the students who apply. The program looks for diverse individuals who bring a unique perspective to the research. Chia Ko Hung – an international Fellow currently studying at Arizona State University – applied at the recommendation of his professor with a paper he wrote for a class. To his surprise, he was accepted, and has noted, “I found many great connections with students all over the world and excellent ideas from Peter. I got really good feedback and critiques about my paper.”

The Doctoral Fellows program is a dynamic experience offering Fellows an atmosphere of constructive criticism in a supportive environment. The program incorporates team building,, outings to explore the greater Philadelphia area, and weekly team dinners to boost connections across this small cohort of global researchers. Each Fellow brings a unique and valuable set of skills that are integral to the group; peer review is one of the strongest components of this program.

CSIS loved working with the 2017 Class of Doctoral Fellows in Social Impact. For more information on this year’s cohort, you can read about some of our scholars scholars here, here, and here — or jump to the program page to learn more about the Fellowship overall. Interested applicants should check back on the program page in January for application guidelines and deadlines.