Haas Scholars Program: Guidelines for Your Project Proposal
Please review these guidelines and policies before beginning to write your Haas Scholars proposal. We recommended using this research proposal worksheet to prepare your proposal. For more suggestions on how to approach each section, visit the proposal-writing resources page on the OURS website and/or attend a “How to Write a Proposal” workshop (times/dates here). You may also review a video recording of the Research Proposal Workshop linked here.
Note: you will need to be signed into you BMail account (@berkeley.edu) in order to access the linked resources above.
Your proposal should contain the following five sections:
- Research Statement (Project Summary)
- Background and Rationale
- Research Plan (Methodologies and Timeline)
- Qualifications and Affiliations
Note: You will need to number any supplementary materials (graphics, images, charts) that you refer to in your application and upload them as a single PDF.
Research Statement (Project Summary) (max. 1,000 characters, approx. 175 words)
Provide an overview of your project, addressing the following questions:
- What specific question does your research ask. and why is it important?
- How will your project potentially contribute new knowledge to the field?
A good research statement acts as an abstract of your project – it is your sales pitch. It should:
- Provide a hook or snapshot of your specific topic
- Introduce a hypothesis or intervention in the field, stating your research question
- Briefly contextualize your proposal in current conversations in the field
- Describe the potential impact or implication(s) of the project
- Make a claim about how this project is relevant
- Convince the reader that this project is exciting, innovative, and meaningful!
Background and Rationale (max. 4,000 characters, approx. 750 words)
Contextualize your research project within existing literature and make a case for why this research matters. Although you may use in-text citations to refer to sources that have informed your research, full citations of these sources should be included in the bibliography section. Be sure to address the following questions:
- What is already known about the research topic you will be working on?
- How does your project align with or depart from the existing scholarship?
- How will this research contribute to the wider field?
This section builds on the project overview you provided in the Research Statement section. In it, you will situate your research project within existing literature. This is where you will cite the sources included in the bibliography!
- Situate your research question within the broader field, summarizing the key findings of scholarship that shaped your thinking
- Indicate how your project will contribute new knowledge
- Identify questions your research will answer
Research Plan (Methodologies and Timeline) (max. 3,000 characters, approx. 500 words)
Describe your research plan. Provide an account of the methodologies that will inform your process and outline the timeline of your project. Be sure to address the following questions:
- Describe your summer research plan in chronological order, using either a week-by-week timeline or phases approach. Each week/phase should specify goals, action items, and methods.
- How are your chosen research methods appropriate for addressing these issues?
- Are there constraints or anticipated challenges associated with any particular elements of your research process?
This section details the how, when, where, and what of your project, describing how you will tackle the research objectives. It should identify the components of this research and your organizational approach. Be clear about the nature of your research (e.g., bibliographic, labwork, experiments, interviews, documentation). Describe your project as a process that can be broken down into rational, discrete phases:
- What will your first step be? What is entailed in this step? What will your questioning look like? How long will it take?
- How does step 1 prepare you for step 2? How does step 2 prepare you for step 3? etc.
- Are there benchmarks that will define your process?
Qualifications and Affiliations (max. 1,200 characters, approx. 200 words)
Describe your qualifications to conduct this research. Reference not only any relevant coursework and germane research experience but also personal experiences that make the project meaningful to you. If your research requires an external affiliation or permission to access particular resources, provide evidence that you have secured these. Be sure to address the following:
- What academic and personal experiences have prepared you to carry out this research project?
- Does your project depend on access to people and/or institutions or particular resources (i.e., interviewing subjects, partnering with institutions, traveling to archives or museums)? If so, please describe the affiliations, permissions, and agreements you have established.
In this section, you are convincing the committee that you are prepared to undertake this research. You are providing a personal statement about why this research matters to you. Here’s what to include:
- Relevant past coursework
- A narrative account of what you learned
- Previous research experience
- Planned training in the coming semester or early summer
- Access to mentors or resources that will help you
- Any external affiliations secured (archives, labs, community groups)
- Relevant leadership or extracurricular activities
- Demonstration of passion for the proposed project
Bibliography (max. 4,000 characters)
Provide a short bibliography that has informed your thinking. Include full citations of any sources you mentioned elsewhere in this proposal.
- Ten most important sources
- Formatted in accordance with the major style guide used in your field
- e.g., Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.
Previously Successful Research Proposals
To view examples of research proposals, you can visit the SURF L&S Resources page linked here.
Note: The proposals will be listed by Major(s), Fellow, and Title of Project.
To access the files linked, you must be logged into a valid UC Berkeley email address.