American Bar Foundation Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellowships in Law and Social Science

Summer research fellowship for students from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the social sciences

The American Bar Foundation is pleased to sponsor an annual summer research fellowship for undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing graduate studies in the social sciences. This summer program is designed to introduce students to the rewards and demands of a research-oriented career in the field of law and social science. The program is supported by the Kenneth F. and Harle G. Montgomery Foundation. 

The American Bar Foundation is the nation's leading research institute for the empirical study of law. An independent, nonprofit organization for more than sixty years, the ABF seeks to advance the understanding and improvement of law through research projects on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and in the world. The American Bar Foundation seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions. To further this mission the ABF produces timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The Foundation conducts research on a broad range of civil and criminal justice issues. Current research areas include: law, diversity, and equal justice; the legal profession, legal education, and access to justice; law, health, and human development; rights, courts, and social change; criminal justice; law and globalization; and civil justice and dispute resolution. Many of the ABF’s resident research faculty members hold joint appointments at Chicago-area universities including Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Recognized as a major institution in the field of law and social science, the Foundation offers a rich environment to students considering an academic or research-based career.

Deadline Information

Deadline: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Eligibility Requirements

American students including, but not limited to, persons who are African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American,  as well as other individuals who will add diversity to the field of law and social science, such as those who identify as LGBQT+ and those with disabilities are eligible to apply. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate students who do not reside in the United States.  Applications will be considered only from sophomores and juniors, that is, students who have completed at least their sophomore year and who have not received a bachelor’s degree by the time the fellowship begins. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and be moving toward an academic major in the social sciences or humanities. 

Application Process

Applicants must provide the following:

  • Two brief essays on the topics indicated in the application form
  • A writing sample from any academic discipline (no need to write something new; send us something you have written for a course at school that you are particularly proud of) 
  • Official transcripts of all academic courses completed at the time of application (that is, sent electronically or via mail by the school's registrar)
  • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with the student’s work. Please have them send it to us directly via mail or email, not via Interfolio.

Applications will open on November 15, 2017. Completed applications, including the transcript and letter of recommendation, must be received (not postmarked) by February 15, 2018. Due to the large volume of applications, late applications cannot be reviewed.  Awards will be announced by April 2018.

Please e-mail or mail the official transcript and letter of recommendation using the following information: 

Address: American Bar Foundation, Summer Research Diversity Fellowship c/o Willa Sachs, 750 North Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611

E-mail: or 

To apply online on or after November 15, 2017, please visit:

If you have any questions, please contact Willa Sachs. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.