The Olson Scholars Program recognizes high-achieving first-year students as they enter their sophomore year at SIS. Named for William Olson, former Dean of the School of International Service whose dedication to mentoring students was renowned, the program provides a structured, challenging, and supportive curricular environment within which high-performing undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue advanced research work in international studies under the close supervision of a member of the SIS faculty.
Chosen for their high academic achievement, passion for international issues, and quality of their proposed research, Olson Scholars will enroll in a dedicated section of the core SIS research methodology sequence over the course of their sophomore year, taking SISU 206 Introduction to International Studies Research in the fall, and SISU 306 Advanced International Studies Research in the spring. As students proceed through 306, they are expected to work more and more independently with their faculty mentor-perhaps the most exciting part of the Olson Scholars Program-while class time is devoted to exploring broad theoretical questions about social science and ethics. Each student is matched with an SIS faculty mentor whose research and professional interests closely correspond to the student's own passions and vocational goals; the faculty mentor guides the student through the research project that the student will work on over the course of the year.
Olson Scholars are invited to participate in a number of supplemental activities over the course of the year. These are designed to take advantage of resources in Washington, DC, to broaden and deepen the students' engagement with and grasp of the most pressing challenges in world politics today. Applications for the Olson Scholars Program are available to SIS undergraduate students in the spring of their first year. Selection criteria include a student's overall and in-major GPA, a record of engagement with and demonstrated passion for international issues, and the quality of the proposed research project on which the applicant proposes to work. Approximately 15 Olson Scholars will be named annually.