After criticisms and concerns over funding, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics will increase its competitive Director’s Internship program stipend to $6,000 for this summer, according to a Tuesday morning email.
The stipend previously stood at $5,000 or $5,500 for high-cost areas, with this summer’s increase marking the first uptick in funding for all students since 2018. Students on need-based financial aid will be eligible for an additional $1,000 of funding through the Priscilla Chan Summer Service Stipend, whose applications closed last week.
The IOP Director’s Internship is a 10-week summer program that provides summer jobs for more than 200 undergraduates in politics, government, and public service around the world. Interns work 35 to 40 hours per week in an unpaid role and use the stipend to fund their summer experience.
Students can also apply for an IOP summer stipend outside of the Director’s Internship if they secure unpaid work in similar fields.
“We are delighted to announce that beginning with this summer’s class of interns and stipend recipients, the IOP will be awarding $6,000 for each Director’s Internship and up to $6,000 for each summer stipend,” the email reads.
Still, even as the IOP increased stipend amounts, some students are still awaiting a decision on their application — 10 days past the IOP website’s stated decision deadline.
“All but a handful of the Director’s Interns have been selected and notified — with the Round 4 applications still in process,” Tuesday’s email reads.
IOP President Amen H. Gashaw ’24 said student leaders are “really excited about the precedent this sets for supporting student public service moving forward.”
“We are happy to say that students on an IOP stipend can live in D.C., in New York, and San Francisco and know that they’ll be able to afford housing, afford their groceries, afford public transit, and all of the other necessities that come with the transplant life of a college student,” Gashaw added.
The morning update follows months of tensions within the IOP leadership as pressure grew to raise the stipend funding level from its pre-pandemic base sum following inflation and a heightened cost of living.
IOP Director Setti D. Warren wrote in a statement that he aimed to “prioritize additional funding to address student needs” when he was appointed as permanent director after previously serving in an interim capacity.
“The internships program at the Institute of Politics is one of the pillars of our mission, and a personal priority for me, our whole team and our student leadership,” Warren wrote.
Warren wrote that the IOP had been working to increase stipend amounts without decreasing the number of awarded students.
“We needed to address the need without reducing our ranks of 200+ students each summer,” Warren wrote in the statement.
Last week, IOP student leaders were skeptical that Warren would make progress on raising stipend amounts before the end of the semester.
IOP Vice President Pratyush Mallick ’25 thanked Waren, IOP Senior Director of Administration Laura Dove, and IOP Director of Student Programs Abbie James for working toward a stipend increase.
“We’re really grateful for how responsive our staff was to student needs and to student concerns and comments, and we are looking forward to continuing to better bolster these programs in the future,” Gashaw said.
—Staff writer Thomas J. Mete can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thomasjmete.