Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions2021-12-02T11:47:22-06:00

Deadline: Jan 28, 2022

Deadline: Jan 28, 2022

Deadline: Jan 28, 2022

Deadline: Jan 21, 2022

What are the start and end dates for the 2022 Fellowship?2021-11-11T23:00:44-06:00

DSSG (at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh) will begin May 30, 2022 and end August 19, 2022

Is the summer fellowship an in-person or a remote program?2022-01-05T12:19:33-06:00

The summer program is an in-person, full-time, 12-week program where fellows work in teams supported by full-time senior data science mentors and project managers as well as attend workshops, lectures, and other activities. As of now, we don’t believe we can replicate this experience in a virtual setting and we are planning on holding an in-person program in the summer of 2022. As the COVID-19 situation changes, we will follow university and government guidelines and adjust our plans accordingly. We will also follow CMU guidelines around vaccination requirements for the participants.

What is the goal of the Fellowship?2021-11-11T23:01:17-06:00

The Fellowship is a project-based training program designed to produce data scientists and Ml/AI practitioners with strong skills in solving real-world problems and an understanding, excitement, and passion for solving problems with social impact. We have three goals (prioritized in that order):

  1. Training Fellows: We want to help create the next generation of data scientists who have the data science skills to solve real-world problems and are passionate about focusing their efforts on solving social challenges.
  2. Exposing and training governments and non profits to better use data to make better decisions.
  3. Community: Seeding a community of people and organizations working together to make an impact.
What is the culture of the Fellowship?2021-11-11T23:02:03-06:00

Collaborative, Ethical, and Inclusive. We know we don’t know everything and want everyone involved to shape the Fellowship. We’re open to ideas, criticism, and help. Yes, we are data-driven but more than that, we’re problem-driven. We care about impact and how our work is used to improve society in a fair and equitable manner.

What happens during the Fellowship?2015-12-17T16:45:54-06:00

Most of the summer, Fellows work with their team on their project. We augment that with lectures, hands-on workshops, seminars (from local and visiting guests), happy hours (with the local tech, data science, non-profit, and government communities), meet-ups, field trips, and other social activities (sailing trips, tours, concerts, etc.). Some of these are planned in advance, others are co-created and led by the Fellows and mentors as they learn about what they would like to do over the summer.

We try to balance getting things done with learning and training. We believe that the best way to learn is by doing, and the fellows who join us want to make an impact by solving the problem they’re tackling.

Where does the Fellowship take place?2021-11-11T23:02:34-06:00

DSSG 2022 will take place at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

How do I apply?2021-11-11T23:02:53-06:00

Links to the applications for the 2022 program is at the top of this page

Who is an ideal Fellow?2019-11-17T23:26:03-06:00

There is no single profile for an ideal fellow. Successful Fellows have different skill profiles and backgrounds in order to create a collaborative community. Everyone has some programming, statistics and data analysis skills in addition to a passion for making social impact. Some are stronger at Computer Science and Machine Learning. Others have a strong Applied Math or Statistics background. Some come from a quantitative Social Science, Economics, or Public Policy background. Others have Physics or Chemistry or Geography or Linguistics degrees. We’re not expecting you to be awesome at everything. Tell us what you’re good at and what you’d like to learn. In addition, personality and communication skills matter! If you’re passionate about a cause or social issue, tell us about it in your application. If there’s a recent project you’ve done that you’re proud of, we’d like to hear about it.

What year do I have to be in school to apply?2019-11-17T23:19:38-06:00

Although we’d love to have people at all levels involved, we prefer you to be a graduate student or at least a senior in college to get the most out of this program. This is because we have learned over the years that fellows with prior skills are able to both get the most out of their experience, as well as contribute the most. That said, if you feel like you may not fit the typical criteria of a Fellow, but have both the computational skills and passion to excel, we’d still love to see your application.

How competitive is admission to the DSSG summer Fellowship program?2019-11-17T23:40:45-06:00

Typically, we get 600-1000 applications for 24-40 positions

Who should my recommenders be?2019-11-17T23:31:10-06:00

Your recommenders should be the two people who know you and your work best. This can be your advisor or professor, or your work/research manager. It is not necessary that they are faculty members at your university, but we recommend getting letters from people that can comment on your academic background, practical skills in data science, your ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, and your passion for social impact.

Can I change my recommenders?2022-01-24T23:47:01-06:00

If necessary, yes. Please do the following:

1) Send the link to the new reference.
2) Send us the name of, contact info of, and your relation to the new reference at dssg at datascienceforsocialgood dot org.
3) Send us the name and contact info of the reference you’d like to remove at dssg at datascienceforsocialgood dot org.

How specific should the project proposal be?2016-06-05T01:15:08-05:00

We’d rather you give us a few project ideas than one detailed, specific, project proposal. We can then work with you to better understand the potential projects to select the one that best fits the fellowship.

At what time on the 28th do applications close?2021-11-11T23:03:28-06:00

Fellow applications close at midnight in the latest timezone on earth.

What if my recommendation letters come in after the deadline?2018-01-31T15:39:25-06:00

Any recommendations submitted after the deadline will be added to your application, but reviewers can only take into account information available to them at the time of review so we highly recommend you ensure your recommendations are in before the deadline.

Can you give me an update on my application status?2018-01-26T17:35:44-06:00

We will communicate your application status in several emails leading up to the application deadline to inform you whether we are still missing parts of the application or recommendations.

Once the application deadline has passed, we review applications using a rolling process. The review period is an extremely busy time for us, which is why we cannot respond to requests on the status of individual applications. Please see the question below for details when you can expect a response.

When will I find out if I was admitted?2019-11-17T23:21:59-06:00

Once applications close the 31st of January, we will start the rolling review process aiming for the following dates.

  • First week of February: initial review round starts
  • Last week of February: review round completed,  all applicants moved to interview round or notified
  • Mid February to mid March: interviews
  • Late March: decision emails sent out (acceptances, places on the waiting list, or rejections)
  • First week of April: final Fellow group confirmed
Are you only looking for tech and computer science geeks?2019-11-17T23:41:53-06:00

No, not at all! We love CS geeks but in order to solve high impact problems, we need teams with a broad set of skills. We want people from all kinds of backgrounds including sociology, economics, public policy, public health, geography, physics, and chemistry. However, we do want you to have experience with programming, data analysis and a passion for making social impact. That means that applicants should have had some prior experience using a programming language (such as Python) to analyze data

Is it a full-time program and do I have to be on-site?2018-01-30T19:14:53-06:00

Yes. And yes.

Do I have to be a student to apply?2016-01-15T02:11:44-06:00

Not necessarily but this is designed for current student or recent graduates. If you have finished a degree (undergrad, Masters, PhD) in the past couple of years, you should be ok to apply. We’ve had post-docs, as well as people in industry (recent graduates), and people in between undergrad and gradschool come as fellows in previous years.

Do I have to be a US Citizen to apply?2019-11-13T11:04:26-06:00

No, you don’t have to be a US citizen to apply. We have sponsored J-1 visas (for those outside the US)  in the past as well as had F-1 students already in the US use CPT to be part of the fellowship.

We can’t provide funds for visa applications but can definitely send a supporting letter if required.

Are Fellows paid, and if so, how much?2021-12-30T09:48:55-06:00

Yes, the fellowship is paid. The stipends are fixed but vary by the cost of living of the fellowship location. For Pittsburgh, the stipend is $10000 for the summer and should be more than enough to cover travel, housing, and other expenses over the summer.

While budgeting for the program, please keep in mind that the stipend qualifies as taxable income. Due to our large number of international fellows, we cannot advise on the tax implications related to the stipend. We recommend consulting with a lawyer for tax-related questions/concerns.

What about housing?2019-11-17T23:21:12-06:00

We are working on organizing housing for 2020. Please check back later.

Can I take a week off during the summer for a conference, wedding, etc.?2019-11-17T23:34:01-06:00

No. We can make some exceptions for up to 2 days off during the summer (for critical cases), but spending a week away from the work is not fair to the other fellows on your team. If you need to be away for a week during the summer, this may not be the summer for you to participate in DSSG. In addition, everyone must be in attendance for the entire first week and last week of the fellowship.

Do Fellows select their own projects?2015-12-04T22:55:18-06:00

Partially. We spend the months leading up the Fellowship designing projects with project partners. Once the Fellows are selected, we will send you a list of these projects and ask you to give us your preferences. We’ll then use these preferences and the needs of the projects to create project teams.

You can see past projects from last year here. Projects will be in partnership with government and non profit organizations and will be in areas of education, healthcare, energy, community development, disaster relief, and public safety.

Will I get a paper published based on this work?2015-12-15T20:45:06-06:00

A lot of the project teams end up writing papers but that’s not the goal of the summer fellowship. We encourage people to do good work with real impact and the paper is often a by-product of that good work

What is the profile for an ideal mentor?2019-11-17T23:35:41-06:00

An ideal mentor has a strong technical background, typically PhD (in Data Science, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, or Public Policy) and 5+ years of  industry experience. We want mentors to have real-world problem solving experience as well as experience in leading teams and working with students and industry partners.

In the past years, we’ve had a mix of successful mentors from Industry and Academia (with practical, real-world experience) with PhDs in Computer Science, Machine Learning, Statistics, Social Science, Economics, and Physics.

See more details on mentors.

Are mentor positions full-time or part-time?2019-11-17T23:36:54-06:00

Our priority is to have full-time mentors. These are paid, full-time positions. If you want to help in a part-time capacity, please contact us separately to see how we can get you involved.

Are mentors paid?2019-11-17T23:37:28-06:00

Yes, full-time mentors are paid positions.

What is the role of mentors in the Fellowship?2016-11-30T21:08:15-06:00

Mentors are a critical component of the Fellowship. Each mentor leads (typically two) teams of Fellows and serves as a project lead and technical adviser. Mentors also help us design the activities over the summer and are an integral part of the organizing team.

What kinds of organizations do you work with?2015-01-31T17:43:52-06:00

Project Partners are typically, but not always, non-profits and government organizations (city, state, or federal – US or international). We also work with corporations and startups with a social mission.

What criteria do you use to select project partners?2015-12-04T22:57:23-06:00

Project Partners come with some idea of a problem they want help in tackling, data they can provide to solve that problem, and resources they can devote to collaborate with us over the summer. Ideal partners:

1. Have an important problem with high social impact: We want concrete problems that can have impact as opposed to vague research questions
2. Can give us access to data they’ve collected that is useful in solving that problem: It’s less about the size of the data, more about having the right data to solve the problem. We don’t release the data publicly and comply with any security and privacy procedures necessary but we need to be able to access the data remotely from Chicago.
3. Provide expertise about the problem area to the team of Fellows: We are not experts in all “social good” areas and expect partners (who are the experts) to help us understand the data and the problem.
4. Are likely to implement and use the work we produce over the summer: We want our work to be used and having committed partners is critical for that to happen.

We want to make an impact and want to work with partners who can best use our skills and resources to make that happen.

More questions? See our post on what makes a good DSSG project.

What areas of “social good” do you care about?2018-05-12T14:09:39-05:00

All of them. In the past years, we’ve worked in various areas such as education, public health, medicine, sustainability, public safety, economic development, international aid, homelessness prevention, and public accountability.

How concrete of a problem do I need to propose?2015-01-28T17:51:06-06:00

We like concrete problems but can help you define and scope the project. We’re okay with starting with an interest in working with us and will spend time with you before the Fellowship starts to refine projects and discuss data needs. You can also propose several project ideas and we can help narrowing them down to the one we think will best fit within the Fellowship.

Does the project partner need to be located near a Fellowship location?2019-11-17T23:38:50-06:00

Not at all. We’ve worked with partners all over the world. In-person collaboration is great but so is Slack, Zoom, Skype and/or Hangout. We do expect project partners to visit in-person at the beginning and end of the fellowship.

Can you give me examples of partners you’ve worked with?2015-12-04T22:57:40-06:00

See our recent parners here.

What do I get as a Project Partner?2015-01-25T18:05:03-06:00

You get to work with a team of 3-4 smart, passionate Data Science Fellows led by an experienced mentor for 12 weeks to solve the problem we identify together.

Are project manager positions full time or part time?2016-11-30T22:10:37-06:00

Project Managers are paid, full-time positions.

What is the ideal profile for a project manager?2019-11-17T23:43:49-06:00

An ideal project manager has a strong technical background and exposure to technology or data science projects, and several years of industry or consulting experience. We want people who are used to working in an agile, fast paced, start-up like environments with experience managing multiple projects at once.


What are some examples of projects?2015-12-04T23:03:45-06:00
Are there volunteer positions available for project managers?2016-12-01T19:19:04-06:00

No. While we appreciate individuals interested in part-time or volunteer positions, we can only accept applicants able to work full-time for the duration of the summer.

What is the role of project managers in the Fellowship?2018-05-12T14:09:37-05:00

Project managers manage 4 projects simultaneously with 4 different project partners (clients) and a team of 12 -16 fellows.


What is the role of an intern?2016-12-01T19:56:56-06:00

Interns help us keep the program running while getting exposure to the DSSG projects, fellows, staff, and partners. They help us with administrative tasks and event setup, from setting up the physical space for the summer to staffing the DSSG conference- any experience with event planning, grant writing, data science, or computer science is appreciated.

Are interns full-time or part-time?2016-12-01T19:52:56-06:00

Interns are full-time, paid positions.

Are interns paid?2016-12-01T19:54:13-06:00

Yes. Interns are full-time, paid positions.

Will there be information sessions for potential applicants?2017-12-12T04:18:04-06:00

Yes, we are hosting information sessions  – watch our website for dates.

I have read all the FAQs, but I still have a question2022-01-24T23:47:46-06:00

If you are certain that your question is not covered in the Frequently Asked Questions,  contact us. If your question is in the FAQs,  we may give you a hard time about it and may not answer your email

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