Student in classics library


How will COVID-19 impact the course in 2021?

We are committed to offering the Humanities Research Intensive during spring break 2021. However, due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, we will be holding it online, rather than in person. This was not an easy decision for us to make, but we are working hard to design a virtual experience that will replicate the hands-on experience of working in an archive to the greatest extent possible.

What should I expect on the application?

Applicants will be expected to write a 300-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 your main interests right now, in the form of a question you wish you had an answer to, or 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?

We are still thinking through how to redesign the curriculum for an online-only experience, but a typical day will look like this: in the mornings, you will gather as a group with the faculty, who will introduce materials and lead discussions about humanities research methods. This may include working with digital reproductions of manuscripts or objects in the Stanford library collections, conducting additional research online, and discussing readings together. During the afternoons, you will develop the themes raised in the morning through discussion sessions, one-on-one meetings with faculty, virtual visits to other collections on campus (such as the Cantor Arts Center or the Hoover Institution Library and Archives), and structured time for individual work.

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 classics? 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), Grant Parker (Classics), 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 online application is now live and is due by Monday, November 2, at 11:59 pm.

When will I find out if I have been selected?

You will be notified during the week of November 9–13 if you have been selected or placed on the waitlist. Admitted students must commit to the program by Friday, November 20, 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 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. In 2020–21, we will offer small fellowships of $1,500 for part-time research during an academic term or 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 Undergraduate Research Student Grants (Major Grants, Small Grants, Conference Grants, and Chappell Lougee Scholarships), Hume Humanities Honors FellowshipsBing 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 EALC (East Asian Languages and Cultures), Classics, English, or History. It will not count toward major requirements in these departments, however.

What if the 2 units for HRI push me over the maximum limit for spring quarter?

Although it takes place during spring break, HRI is formally registered as a spring quarter course. Therefore, you must leave enough space in your spring course plan to accommodate the 2 units from HRI. For full-time students, the maximum limit is 20 units, while those on a flex term are limited to 5. There is a university process whereby you can petition to exceed this limit, but success is not guaranteed.

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, March 21, and ends on Friday evening, March 26. In between, you should expect to be in class for the majority of each day, with homework assignments in the evenings. You are required to attend all sessions. In short, you should avoid making any other plans during spring break except on Saturday, March 20 or Saturday and Sunday, March 27–28, which are free. (Note: In the past, when we taught HRI in person, we held class daily from 9am – 5pm Pacific time. This year, we are working on a strategy to make the program more accessible to students in multiple time zones. For instance, we will probably make some portions of the course accessible as pre-recorded videos.) 

Can I participate in HRI if I take a leave of absence during spring quarter?

No. Although it takes place over spring break, HRI is formally registered as a spring quarter course. Therefore, you must either be enrolled as a full-time student during spring quarter or designate spring as your flex term for 2020–21.