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About the Undergraduate Research Internship program

CESTA's Undergraduate Research Internship program empowers students to apply technologies across the Humanities and Social Sciences in ways that enhance our understanding of the world.

As Stanford's Digital Humanities center, CESTA cultivates research at the intersection of computing, design, and the humanities. The Center utilizes digital and computational methods to investigate cultural records, objects, and historical phenomena through space and time. CESTA projects explore the history of technologies, preserve and explain the written and artistic records of peoples across the world, and bring new life to the stories of individuals who helped build America.
The Undergradute Research Internship provides opportunities for undergraduates to work on these projects throughout the academic year. Through structured research training, experimentation with cutting-edge technologies, and faculty mentorship, students develop valuable academic and professional skill sets. Work on lab projects allows students to apply their developing expertise in data science, GIS, and web development in tandem with humanities skills in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and ethical decision-making.


When can students apply?

In 2021-22, CESTA will accept applications for positions in Winter and Spring 2022 (a two-quarter program), and Summer 2022 (a one-quarter program). Applications for all quarters will open in early November 2021 and close on January 5 2022. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis so we encourage you to apply as early as possible.

What does the application process entail?

The application process consists of an online form and a resume (submitted with the form). The form takes less than an hour to complete and is intended to help us learn about applicants' interests, availability, skills, and previous experience. It comprises a mixture of short and longer-answer questions, and asks about preferences regarding research projects. Information sessions held shortly after the application deadline will allow applicants to meet the CESTA team, see the CESTA workspace, and ask any questions about the program. They are also an opportunity for us to get to know you, so attendance is strongly encouraged.  Selected candidates are placed on a project led by Stanford researchers (faculty, staff, and/or graduate students).

What do research interns do?

Research Interns engage in various phases of the research process, including traditional and archival research, finding data, creating databases, using computational methods of modeling and analysis, data visualization, and contributing to various forms of publication. For example, depending on the project a student is working on, they may:

  • Use GIS to quantify and map urban development over time
  • Visit library or digital collections to find relevant materials about the lived experiences of Chinese railroad workers
  • Build databases of European travelers to Italy in the 18th century
  • Transcribe medieval documents containing information such as spells, early medicinal remedies, and evidence of pagan elements that have persisted throughout the centuries
  • Develop interactive web platforms that allow users to visualize data sets

Though faculty develop the initial research questions and projects, students are active participants in research design and may contribute by challenging assumptions, suggesting alternative approaches, and posing new hypotheses.

What projects can rearch interns work on?

Our projects range from large multi-year, multi-faculty projects, with multiple interns, to more narrowly focused projects with a single faculty member and intern. All projects work with the CESTA team. Project openings vary as student availability and project status change. To learn more about ongoing projects, publications, events, and academic programs, explore our website at

What if I apply and am not hired?

Student demand for projects is high and there are limited positions available. However, students who are not immediately interviewed or placed on a project in the quarter in which they apply can be considered for additional projects as they become available. With new projects being added every year, we encourage students to re-apply, especially as particular interests and skills develop! 

How are research interns compensated?

Compensation of research interns can take several forms, including hourly pay, stipends, and academic credit. (At the application stage, students are asked whether they are open to working for academic credit.) During Winter and Spring Quarters, interns work between 5 to 10 hours per week. During the summer, positions last for ten weeks and range from part-time to full-time (5-40 hours per week). Students will have access to faculty and staff mentorship for their projects, in addition to a great working space.

How does working for CESTA provide me with academic, research, and job experience?

While working on CESTA projects students gain valuable experience. Students have access to faculty, staff, and graduate student mentorship in addition to a great working space. CESTA provides a community and program that exposes students to relevant on campus tools, people, and resources. Students can gain experience working within their field or topic of interest, or gain experience outside of the realm of their major through project-based learning. Students also acquire new technical and conceptual skills. While working on these projects students are also practicing critical soft skills such as problem solving, communication, and time management.

What does a typical day look like for a Research Intern?

To learn more about the kind of work Rearch Interns do, please explore our 2020 Research Anthology and view our brief Intern Spotlight videos on CESTA's YouTube channel: 

For More Information

If you have any questions about the position or the application process, you can reach us at


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