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Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI)

Named in honor of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former APSA President, Ralph J. Bunche, the RBSI encourages students to pursue academic careers in political science by:

  • enhancing writing, research, and analytical skills to increase competitiveness in the application and financial aid process for graduate school;
  • developing statistical skills for data analysis used in political science;
  • exposing participants to the significant questions in the discipline and profession of political science;
  • introducing participants to leading political scientists;
  • educating participants about political science career opportunities and encouraging their application to doctoral programs in political science.

The RBSI is an annual, intensive five-week program held at Duke University. It is designed to introduce to the world of doctoral study in political science those undergraduate students from under-represented racial and ethnic groups or those interested in broadening participation in political science and pursuing scholarship on issues affecting under-represented groups. Participants in the RBSI are drawn from a competitive national applicant pool. The RBSI Selection Committee reviews applications and makes decisions during the month of February. Applicants will be informed of their status via email.

2015 RBSI Scholars

How To Apply

Program dates: May 31, 2015 - July 2, 2015
Deadline for applications: The 2015 application cycle is now closed.

Eligibility Criteria
  • Applicants must be members of a racial or ethnic minority group that is significantly under-represented in political science, such as African American, Asian Pacific American, Latinos/a, and Native American (federal and state recognized tribes) students, or who are interested in broadening participation in political science by students from under-represented minority populations and pursuing scholarship on issues affecting under-represented groups.
  • Applicants must be college/university juniors.
  • Applicants must demonstrate an interest in teaching and potential for research in political science.
  • Applicants must be US citizens at time of application.
RBSI Applicant Checklist

A complete application includes:

  • 2015 APSA RBSI Program Application (online by applicant)
    • Includes fields for personal statement, resume, and list of recommenders.
  • Official Transcripts (mail directly to APSA by university/college)
    • Provide an official transcript (that includes 2014 fall semester grades) from each undergraduate institution attended. Institutions may send transcripts directly to APSA, postmarked no later than January 16, 2015.
  • Letters of Recommendation (mail directly to APSA by recommender)
    • Three letters of recommendation. One from the department chair, and two more from other people who are familiar with the applicant's academic qualifications (should be mailed by the recommenders, with recommender signature across the seal of the envelope).
    • Recommender should attach this form to his/her letter of recommendation.
Transcripts and letters of recommendation should be mailed
(and postmarked by January 16, 2015) to:

More Program Information

Each summer, up to 20 students are admitted to the program, which includes two transferable credit courses -- one in quantitative analysis and one in race and American politics – and a comprehensive introduction to the intellectual demands of graduate school and political science research methods. For a final project for both courses, students prepare original, empirical research papers; top students are given the opportunity to present their research at the American Political Science Association's Annual Meeting, all expenses paid.

Classes are held on the Duke University campus, where students have access to a fully equipped computer laboratory, library collections, and other university facilities. Educational activities range from formal classroom settings to informal dinners and lunches with prominent political scientists and Duke University faculty. A strong ethics component is included with readings, cases, debates, and lectures on issues within an academic setting. RBSI Director Paula McClain (Professor of Political Science, Duke University) teaches classes as do several of her colleagues from Duke University. Bunche students have uniformly praised the exceptional mentoring that they receive from Dr. McClain and other Bunche faculty.

Since good performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is key to admission to and funding for graduate school, Graduate Record Exam test-taking strategies are provided by Princeton Review. At the end of the Institute, representatives from a number of leading PhD granting institutions participate in a recruitment fair to present information about doctoral study and admissions with Bunche students. The successful applicant to RBSI receives full tuition, health insurance, transportation, room and board in a dormitory double room, books, and instructional materials. Also, participants receive a food allowance and a weekly stipend.

American Political Science Association
1527 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036-1206
(202) 483-2512 • Fax: +1 (202) 483-2657

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