Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Student Opportunities

SAO Summer Intern Program

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Summer Intern Program is a 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship where students take on an astrophysics research project with an SAO or Harvard scientist. Students are expected to work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the full duration of the program. We house our interns in Harvard’s graduate student dormitory facilities.

The program is funded by NSF and the Smithsonian Institution.

Undergraduate students interested in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. We provide a wide range of projects to our interns. That said, we have noticed in recent years that many of our projects involve programming tasks, and Python tends to figure prominently in them. You may find it helpful to bring some Python proficiency to your internship — but this is by no means required; we have hosted many successful interns with NO prior programming experience. In a similar vein, you may find it useful to have taken at least an introductory astronomy course, for scientific context. Again, that is NOT required.

The application deadline for the Summer 2022 program is January 31, 2022. For more information, visit

SAO Predoctoral Fellowship Program

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) predoctoral fellowship program welcomes graduate students worldwide to carry out research under the guidance of SAO scientists. SAO scientists and collaborators boast expertise in a wide array of fields and have access to extensive facilities and databases. The program accepts applications through a rolling admissions process. For more information, visit