Summer Research Opportunities

The Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies has two distinct research opportunities for Summer 2024: one held by the Spelke lab and one held by the Thomas, Snedeker, and Bergelson labs together. Read more about each internship below.

The Spelke Lab is seeking motivated students to assist with research in a developmental psychology laboratory for the summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts! Learn state of the art research methods that provide a window into the minds of infants, toddlers, and children. This is an excellent opportunity for someone interested specifically in an intensive, immersive experience in the field of developmental psychology, but also in psychological research more generally.

Intern duties center around working on a project with a primary researcher, and include:

  • recruiting and scheduling child participants and their families
  • testing children in the lab or on Zoom
  • data coding and analysis
  • aiding in the design of new studies

In addition, interns will be invited to professional development workshops, lab meetings, and socials throughout the summer. Interns will present a scholarly poster to the Harvard community at the end of the summer showcasing the project they worked on.


An interest in and ability to work with young children is essential, and previous experience is a plus. Students must have a minimum of 20 hours a week to commit to the lab with a maximum of 35 hours a week for at least 10 weeks.

Funding Resources

To apply for a position in our summer internship, please fill out the application form above. The application deadline is Friday March 1st, 2024 at noon ET. Questions? Please explore our FAQ section at the bottom of this page. If your question is more specific, feel free to reach out to Cristina Sarmiento (Spelke Lab Manager) at [email protected].

The Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies invites undergraduate students and graduating seniors to apply for our 2024 paid summer internship program. The 9-week internship will start on Monday June 10th and run through Thursday August 8th to align with Harvard’s BLISS program. This full-time paid internship position is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience as a research assistant in a child development psychology lab. The application deadline is Friday March 1st, 2024 at noon ET. Questions? Please explore our FAQ section. If your inquiry is more specific, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

A stipend will be awarded for the position, but applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for funding from external sources (i.e., their home institutions) as well. We will support all accepted applicants in securing funding from their home institutions or other external sources. Please note that the Bergelson, Thomas, and Snedeker labs guarantee a minimum stipend of $5,000 via a) funding from the applicants’ home institution, b) funding provided by the Harvard lab hosting the intern (directly or through funding partnerships), or c) a combination of the two.

The Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies strives to create a welcoming and empowering environment for all trainees, including people who identify with groups that have and continue to face injustices in academia. We believe that the best science happens when people who have a diversity of lived experiences contribute. Please feel free to note any aspects of your identity that you would like to share with us in your application.

About Our Research:

Current research projects at Harvard LDS focus broadly on child development. More information about projects at the Thomas, Bergelson, and Snedeker Labs can be found below. For more information about individual labs, please explore other pages of this website.

  • How linguistic, cognitive, and social skills contribute to word learning in infancy
  • How caregiver input may scaffold language learning in different ways and on different timescales
  • How children born blind or Deaf/Hard of Hearing acquire language 
  • Early language production, from babble to early morphology to multi-word utterances
  • Investigating language and grammar acquisition
  • Exploring sentence-processing using eyetracking and EEG
  • Exploring the understanding of quantification in infancy
  • Exploring event representations in the absence of language
  • Analyzing the productive generation of number words

Our projects focus on how infants and children reason about:

  • Mental state and goal reasoning in close relationships and caregiving relationships
  • Intergroup relationships and implicit biases
  • Group structures (hierarchical vs. egalitarian) and social change
  • What types of speech infants (infant-directed vs. adult-directed) prefer to listen to and why
  • Must be an undergraduate student, graduating senior, or recent graduate
  • Must either have U.S. citizenship or a sponsored visa (please email us if you have any questions!)
  • Reliable, motivated, organized, independent, and detail-oriented, enthusiastic and ready to learn
  • Experience working with children and families preferred
  • Particular interest in social, emotional, and cognitive development and/or language acquisition
Intern Role Description

Student interns will work closely with a mentor on a specific research project. Intern duties will include (please note that some of these items may differ depending on project):

  • Recruiting and scheduling participant families from the greater Boston community and for online studies
  • Conducting literature reviews and familiarizing yourself with background literature
  • Collecting data using a variety of methods (e.g., EEG, eye tracking, behavioral studies, habituation, violation of expectation, corpus analysis)
  • Creating experimental stimuli and assisting with experimental design
  • Coding and analyzing data (e.g., using R Studio, SPSS, PyHab, ELAN, Matlab)
  • Assisting with write-ups
  • Attending a variety of meetings, seminars, and professional development events that will contribute to their learning of the literature and the psychology research process
  • Biweekly “intern-tainment” events (e.g., BBQs/picnics, movie nights, escape rooms, beach days, etc.)

All interns will also create a culminating poster presentation about the research projects they have been working on throughout the internship.

How To Apply

Please fill out our Google Form application, which contains some short answer questions and will prompt you to upload a CV/resume. Please note that you will be asked to rate your preferences for individual lab placements (Thomas, Bergelson, Snedeker).

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is housing provided for this summer internship?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide housing for our summer internship. We are happy to provide recommendations (i.e., what neighborhoods are the most convenient, Facebook groups that have housing advertisements, etc.) and connect accepted applicants with each other if they wish to look for housing together. Additionally, the stipend can be used at the discretion of the accepted applicant, so it can be put towards housing costs!

Will I be expected to live in Boston for the 9-week time frame or is remote work possible? 

The program is intended to be fully in-person in Boston. Feel free to apply and make note of any portions of the 9-week period that you wouldn’t be able to attend in-person, and we will take this into consideration while reviewing your application.

What types of sponsored visas are acceptable for this summer internship program?

Unfortunately, deciding what types of sponsored visas are acceptable is not up to us. However, tourism visas will definitely not be acceptable for this internship, as you will be working. Additionally, we are unable to support visa applications associated with our summer internship. We strongly recommend that you contact your university’s visa office or international office to determine what type of visa would be right for you as well as your specific status and restrictions—you may need to complete additional paperwork to become eligible for our summer internship and other paid summer internship programs.

When will I hear back about the status of my application?

We do not have firm dates that we can share with you regarding when you may hear back from us, but here are some tentative dates that may be helpful. The last day to submit the application is Friday, March 1st, 2024 at 12:00 pm (Noon) EST. We will begin the review and interview process afterwards and we anticipate that interviews will run from 3/14/24 – 3/21/24. We plan on sending acceptance letters out on or before Monday, April 1st, 2024. 

I graduated in 2022, am I still eligible for this summer internship program?

Yes, you are still eligible for our summer internship. We do have a preference for current undergraduates and recent graduates but we would be happy to review your application and determine if you would be a good fit for this program!

Please contact [email protected] with any additional questions.