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Burnam Summer Fellowship

for First-Year, Sophomores and Juniors

This fellowship, established in 1998 through a generous gift from Marcia Garbus Burnam ‘49 and her daughter, Beth Burnam ‘77, seeks to provide opportunities to students that will enable them to appreciate difference in the human demographic and condition, and that will broaden and deepen the students' own perspectives on the world.

Through this fellowship students can pursue meaningful summer projects or internships that involve work with non-profit or other community-based agencies either in the United States or abroad. One does not have to have the internship secured at the time of application but should be pursuing a position in an organization. Independent projects are also welcome. 

  • Projects should entail hands-on experience, be people-oriented, and provide fellows with the opportunity to have a marked impact on the communities in which they work or function, both during the summer experience and in a broader context.
  • The fellowship is not intended to support administrative work or research; there must be a community engagement component where fellows are working directly with people.
  • Projects should expose students to people, experiences, and situations that they would not otherwise encounter.
  • The Burnams are particularly interested in helping Vassar students work with organizations that focus on
    • strengthening intergroup relations;
    • eradicating bigotry and racism in society;
    • bolstering urban communities;
    • and confronting the many complex issues that exist in diverse communities.

Students may pursue projects they create either independently or in tandem with an organization. It is hoped that, upon returning to campus, the Burnam Fellows will share their experiences and enlightened perspectives with the Vassar community. Students should be able to show a strong connection between their academic preparation and the proposed project, although the summer experience does not need to be related directly to one's major. 


  • Because project activities must represent the focus of the summer (8-10 weeks) and the fellowship stipend is designed to provide living and project expenses, employment during the duration of the project is inconsistent with the aims of the program and is not sanctioned.
  • While stipends are typically in the $3,000-$5,000 range there is no limit to the amount of funding one may receive. The stipend is determined entirely by the costs outlined in the budget and the necessity of proposed funds.
  • Students who have a summer earnings requirement as part of their financial aid package will receive this amount in addition to the stipend afforded for the summer experience.
  • One could apply to cover the summer earnings requirement if the costs of the internship were covered by the organization or other funding. 

This is a taxable fellowship and each recipient is responsible for filing the appropriate documents and complying with the regulations in this regard. 

The Dean of Studies Office will not fund travel to or study in any area that is under U.S. State Department Travel Advisory level 4 or CDC alert level 3.  The Dean of Studies Office will only fund travel to or study in any area that is under U.S. State Department Travel Advisory level 3 if granted through a petition process. For more information visit: Travel Advisory Policy


Campus Deadline March 15, this includes all letters of recommendation.

  1. Use the Recommendation Registration Form to register the person writing your letter of recommendation. You must do this before you submit your application and inform them that the letters are due by the campus deadline. 
  2. You will also secure a letter of support that you will upload through the application or submit separately once it is received: A letter from the organization with which you would work describing the activities and opportunities in which you would be able to participate. Please note: this letter may not be appropriate in all cases. Those proposing more independent projects may not have access to such a letter but should provide an alternate letter from someone who can attest to the opportunity and potential for success of the proposed project. 
  3. Download the Budget Worksheet and complete prior to completing your application. You will need it when you are ready to submit.
  4. Complete the Burnam Fellowship application and submit it by the campus deadline.

For Applicants: You must submit your application through the online system as indicated above. Please note that you cannot save information in the application and return to it at a later date. You'll need a transcript with your fall grades included so you won't be able to submit the application until mid January, the earliest. You should save your work in a separate document and enter it all at once when you are ready to submit. 

For Letter Writers: Candidates should register their references through the online application. Once registered, writers will receive a link to this form Letter of Recommendation Submission Form. If you haven't received an email please follow up with the applicant to ensure that you have been registered to write on his/her behalf. You may access this form at any time through this site, however you cannot save information and return to the form at a later date.

Fellowships must be used during the summer and may not be deferred.  All arrangements in connection with the project including appropriate health insurance, travel and housing are the responsibility of the Burnam Fellow.  Vassar College is not responsible for any physical or mental injury, illness or property loss sustained by a Burnam Fellow during the course of his or her fellowship.  Fellows may not use the funds to support or defray the expenses of other persons or for non-project related expenses.  Fellows who do not carry through their intended project must return any unused portion of the funds to Vassar College.  All Fellows will submit a report outlining the summer's work to the Office for Fellowships by September 3.  Fellows may be expected to participate in a group event during the fall semester. 

Current Burnam Fellows

Total list of Burnam Fellows

Check out the Burnam Blog!