Applications for this year’s program are now closed. Applications for next year’s program will open in Spring 2025.

The Existential Risk Laboratory’s (XLab) Summer Research Fellowship is a 10-week, in-person program on the University of Chicago campus aimed at providing highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to produce high impact research on emerging threats from artificial intelligence, natural and engineered pathogens, nuclear weapons, climate change, and risk multipliers such as climate-induced migration, critical infrastructure vulnerability, and interstate conflict.

The Fellowship provides an opportunity for scholars in any discipline and any experience level to test their fit for and build expertise in technically informed policy research and direct technical work. Over the course of the program, fellows undertake an independent or team research project with mentorship support from a domain expert and receive 1:1 support from program staff to identify, develop, and refine their project. Fellows will also participate in peer review sessions, cohort social events exploring Chicago, research workshops, and guest speaker Q&As. Depending on experience, final products can take the form of literature reviews, white papers, or published papers and policy reports.

If you are on the fence about applying because you’re unsure about whether your background is a good fit, we encourage you to apply anyway. Many previous fellows have had limited exposure to research, and have been unfamiliar with topics in existential risk, but were nonetheless admitted and have been extremely successful.

See projects and fellows from the 2023 program and the 2022 program.

Program Details:

  • The program is in-person and will run for 10 weeks from June 10th-August 16th, 2024 on the University of Chicago campus.
  • Fellows receive a $7500 stipend and can optionally receive free on-campus housing and dining plans.
  • Fellows are expected to make the program their primary commitment. They should not be concurrently working substantial hours in other labs or internships or taking full course loads unless directly relevant to the fellow’s project.
  • Fellows may have the opportunity to continue their work with XLab as affiliate researchers.
  • US work authorization is required to participate in this program, e.g. US citizens or students on F-1 visas.
  • Feel free to reach out to or if you have any questions.

Application Process

  • For priority consideration, submit applications by March 15. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until April 12, 2024. 
  • We expect to release initial decisions in the first week of April. If you need an earlier decision, please indicate this on the application form or inform us directly.
Photo of summer fellows working in a study room
Photo of summer fellows watching a project presentation
Photo of summer fellows visiting the doomsday clock


“I have loved every minute of x-lab, particularly the opportunity to meet so many like-minded but uniquely smart people working on subject areas different from mine. I’ve learned to push myself more on questioning my own assumptions, work with teams, and produce a tailored final deliverable.”

“It was quite different from what I anticipated but in a better way. I anticipated the program to be more about just me and my mentor working on a research project, but there was a good amount of interaction with my cohort that I didn’t expect. I met many great people and also learned a lot of things I didn’t know from the weekly workshop and group meeting (such as unfamiliar areas like nuclear and biotech threats, and different perspectives in AI policy/safety).”

“Going into this program, I had pretty low self-confidence of my capacity to do a technical project and was fully planning to just write a governance report. This program has flipped those expectations, where I better understand where my core weaknesses such that I know that I can initiate and execute a research project decently and also know where I need to build my next skills to have a higher impact.”

“Much better socially than I expected, living in the dorms was great. Being able to co-work with people and talk to others working on technical AI projects was super useful, so much better than counterfactual of just trying to skill up on my own.”

“I was, however, thrilled and pleasantly surprised by how useful it was having conversations with other fellows and being immersed in the cohort. Without these countless conversations, I would not have developed the foundational understanding of AI that I needed to write my research report.”

“i think the main benefits for me were:
1. testing fit in individual research — the research is just a very different experience from anything i’ve ever done (more intensive and more independent), so i think that taught me a lot about how i like to work and what systems work better for me
2. meeting all the other fellows — i previously didn’t really know any friends interested in x-risk or even ai risk because i was so new to it, so meeting people here was really valuable especially since some of them have spent so much time in the field and are just great resources”

Image of study area in library
Photo of buildings on UChicago campus
Photo of downtown Chicago riverwalk
Photo of sunset along Chicago lakefront
Photo of Henry Moore's Nuclear Energy sculpture
Photo of building on UChicago campus
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