Application & Program FAQ

Who should apply?

Students enrolled in an accredited, undergraduate degree-granting institution in the United States are eligible to apply. Participants must be 18 years old by the program start date of June 6, 2022, and the ideal applicant will be a college freshman or sophomore with an interest in learning more about economics and with an aptitude for quantitative coursework. Our goal is to recruit a diverse group of students from a broad range of backgrounds.

Eligibility Requirements

Successful applicants will:

  • Have a strong interest in learning more about economics
  • Be enrolled in an accredited, undergraduate degree-granting program with freshman or sophomore status when applying
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Have taken coursework (high school or college) in calculus, statistics, economics, or other quantitative fields
  • Submit two letters of recommendation via our online submission system. These letters should be written by those who are familiar with the applicant’s academic (and personal) progress, credentials, and/or research experience. Suitable recommenders include:
    • Undergraduate faculty and academic advisors
    • High school teachers of college-level quantitative courses (AP Calculus, AP Micro- or Macroeconomics, AP Statistics, IB Calculus, etc.)
    • College Access and Success Program Advisors (The Posse Foundation, KIPP Through College & Career, Questbridge, ScholarMatch, etc.)
    • Research supervisors
    • Meet all UChicago and BFI COVID safety guidelines for visitors (more information found here)

How should I submit letters of recommendation?

We require two separate letters of recommendation from faculty, instructors, academic advisors at your current institution, or other suitable recommenders outlined below. Recommenders should be familiar with your academic (and personal) progress, credentials, and/or research experience.

Suitable recommenders include:

  • Undergraduate faculty and academic advisors
  • High school teachers of college-level quantitative courses (AP Calculus, AP Micro- or Macroeconomics, AP Statistics, IB Calculus, etc.)
  • College Access and Success Program Advisors (The Posse Foundation, KIPP Through College & Career, Questbridge, ScholarMatch, etc.)
  • Research supervisors

Recommenders should use the following outline of requirements and send their letters directly to . Your application will not be complete until we receive the two letters of recommendation.

Download Letter of Recommendation Guidelines to Send to Recommenders

How will I be evaluated?

We expect the number of qualified applicants to far exceed the available spaces for the EDE program. Each eligible application will go through the same holistic review process, evaluating transcript(s) and academic history, content of recommendations, personal essays, and other factors such as intellectual agility, demonstrated resilience, and promise and potential. Using these evaluative criteria, EDE will thoughtfully designate a pool of highly qualified and eligible candidates for final selection. We will then use a computerized random selection method to determine the final cohort.

I will graduate from high school and have been accepted to college for the next academic year. Am I eligible to apply?

No, EDE is not open to rising freshmen. Students who will have completed at least one semester (or trimester or quarter, for schools operating on a trimester or quarter system) of an accredited undergraduate program before the application deadline are eligible for the EDE Summer Institute.

I’m a freshman and have not yet declared my major. How will I know if I’m a strong candidate for this program?

This program is designed for undergraduate students who are early in their college career and may not have declared a major. The most important factors are an interest in economics and an aptitude for coursework that is quantitative in nature and relies on strong analytical skills.

I’m a freshman and do not yet have grades on my transcript. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply, but your application will not be considered without a transcript containing grades for at least one academic semester (or trimester or quarter, for schools operating on a trimester or quarter system) at an undergraduate institution. The applicant assumes responsibility of updating their application with required transcripts as soon as they are available.

I will receive my BA by the summer. Can I still apply?

EDE is designed for undergraduate students who are early in their college career (e.g., freshman or sophomore) and are considering the study of economics. It is not open to students who have already completed or will complete their undergraduate degree in calendar year 2022.

How many students will be admitted to the EDE Summer Institute?

Each year, BFI accepts a highly adept cohort of participants to EDE. The summer 2021 cohort was 43 participants.

Do I need to commit to the full three weeks of the program?

Yes, we expect students who accept an invitation to participate in the full session, including both the virtual bootcamp from June 6-10, 2022, and the residential component at the UChicago campus in Chicago, IL from June 12-26, 2022, unless they have special circumstances and are approved in advance for any time away from the program.

How much will this summer program cost?

There are no program fees for Summer Institute participants. Participants are awarded a summer stipend of $1,200. Pell Grant recipients receive a stipend of $2,400. The University of Chicago will cover the costs of economy-class domestic travel, housing, and meals, including several planned outings for the group when the EDE Summer Institute is held in-person.

I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Am I eligible to participate in EDE?

Yes. Please note, however, that applicants must be enrolled as an undergraduate at a US-based institution and must be able to attend the program in-person in Chicago, Illinois. BFI will not sponsor visas and will not cover the costs of international travel for in-person programming.

Will I receive academic credit for this summer program?

You will not receive academic credit from the University of Chicago for this program.

If I am not from a traditionally underrepresented group, can I still apply?

Yes, everyone is eligible to apply, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

How does the random selection process ensure a fair and equitable selection process?

Each eligible application will go through the same holistic review process, evaluating transcript and academic history, content of recommendations, personal essays, and other factors such as intellectual agility, demonstrated resilience, and promise and potential. Using these evaluative criteria, EDE will thoughtfully designate a pool of highly qualified and eligible candidates for final selection. We will then use a computerized random selection method to determine the final cohort.

Why is BFI measuring the impact of the program?

EDE is designed to identify and support talented undergraduate students from a broad range of backgrounds interested in the study of economics. Our goal is to diversify the pool of students majoring in economics, who may go on to a graduate program of study, or a career drawing on this important skill set. Diversity in economics is important because it can inform research questions and lead to otherwise unanticipated answers. A broader range of perspectives will enhance the field’s contributions to public policy and society.

Studying whether participation in EDE accomplishes our goal is necessary to evaluate the impact of the program in a rigorous way. It will additionally provide opportunities for refinement and potential scalability across the country.

How is BFI measuring the impact of the program?

BFI is engaging with a UChicago research team to conduct a longitudinal study – a randomized controlled trial (RCT), widely recognized as the gold standard for testing program efficacy – to be carried out independently in parallel with the program. All applicants will be given an opportunity to voluntarily opt-in to share application data with the research team. The research team may follow up with applicants in the future and give them an opportunity to voluntarily opt-in to additional brief surveys. Voluntarily opting into this study is not a condition of application or participation in the program and has no bearing whatsoever on the selection process. More information will be provided on the application form. Data will be stored according to all Federal Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and relevant guidelines for Personally Identifiable Information.

What is the deadline to apply and how will I know if I have been accepted?

Due to ongoing inquiries, we will continue accepting EDE applications on a rolling basis until Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 11:59 pm Central Time. Decisions will still be announced no later than March 18, 2022.


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