Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology

CMU's Home for Political Science and International Relations

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Don't just learn from research,
learn to conduct it!

Research is an integral part of studying international relations, politics, and foreign affairs. In addition to research done in the regular course of study, the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology (CMIST) offers additional opportunities to conduct and publish research. 


Undergraduate Research for Credit

Are you interested in doing research for credit in the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology (CMIST) during the fall 2024 semester? Please find below a list of research topics with open positions. Research credit can range from 3-9 units. Please contact the CMIST professor directly to discuss the opportunity. Once you and the faculty member agree to work together, you will complete the research for credit formand the Deputy Director Academic Affairs will register you for the course.

Research for Credit Form

Presidents of the Americas since Independence

Professor Arana is working on expanding his Presidential Database of the Americas to include detailed biographical information about all the American and Latin American national leaders who have governed since independence. Assistance is welcome to extract biographical information about presidents, especially for those who governed during the 1800-1945 period. Assistants will gain experience in data collection and learning about political leadership since independence.

Coup Plots, Coups D'etat, and US Military Exercises

Seeking research assistants for one or more political science research projects. One project involves investigating the sordid post-World War II history of coup plots (conspiracies to depose leaders that are not actually attempted, perhaps because the regime discovered and thwarted them). A second project involves research and writing historical narratives coup attempts before World War II. A third project involves coding data on U.S. Joint Military Exercises since the 1970s. Other projects related to self-coups, democratic backsliding, and/or civil resistance and nonviolent revolutions may be available upon inquiry.

State Cybersecurity Organizations and Policies (SCOP) database

The State Cybersecurity Organizations and Policies (SCOP) database is an ongoing effort aimed at documenting the evolution of state cybersecurity institutions. The beta version of this dataset has been completed, and Dr. Kostyuk is currently seeking research assistants (RAs) to assist in finalizing version 1.0. Responsibilities of RAs include: (1) verifying existing sources and adding new sources through online searches; (2) participating in interviews with government officials involved in cybersecurity; (3) performing (preliminary) data analysis and creating visualizations. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals interested in contributing to a significant project in the field of cybersecurity and gaining valuable research experience.

Digital Front of modern conflicts

Dr. Kostyuk is working on the project aimed at understanding the digital front of modern conflict. Using the cases of Ukraine and Israel, Dr. Kostyuk seeks to elucidate the activities occurring in the digital realm and their impact on battlefield dynamics and effectiveness. This research leverages data from published news reports and technical indicators. Responsibilities of research assistants include a variety of tasks: (1) conducting literature reviews or case studies; (2) scrapping texts from online sources and extracting necessary variables (for students with a background in machine learning); and (3) performing (preliminary) data analysis and creating visualizations. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals interested in cyber conflict.  

Military Veterans and US Elections

Recent US elections have ushered in a wave of congressional candidates with military backgrounds. These candidates raise questions about the role of military service in elections and their implications for civil-military relations. Do these candidates discuss their occupations at higher rates, are they more likely to win primary elections, and are they able to solicit more donations earlier in their candidacies? This project aims to answer these questions and more as we build a greater understanding of how military group membership and identity contribute to former service members’ political participation. In the process, this work will evaluate whether former service members’ campaigns differ from those of their colleagues without a military background.

Assistance is welcome for three components of this project. The first component is a database of US military candidates. Research assistants would analyze and collect detailed occupational histories of Congressional candidates to update a comprehensive database of military candidates in primary and general elections. The second component is the comparison of campaign rhetoric used by candidates with and without a military background. Using available software, research assistants would transcribe campaign advertisements, collect videos, and, if interested, assist in text analyses of the transcribed campaign videos. The final component involves collecting, consolidating, and, if interested, analyzing data on campaign contributions from the Federal Election Commission to evaluate the role of military service in early campaign fundraising. There may also be opportunities for data visualization for students who are interested, and additional projects on Congressional behavior may also be available upon inquiry.

Additional Student Research Resources

Dietrich College Senior Honors Program

Through the Dietrich College Senior Honors Program students complete an honors thesis and graduate with College Honors. For more information contact Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Joseph Devine.

Meeting of the Minds

An annual undergraduate research symposium organized by the Undergraduate Research Office each spring. All students engaged in undergraduate research are encouraged to apply. 

Research Training for Undergraduates

Through this academic course, qualified first- and second-year students have the opportunity to work directly with a Dietrich faculty member on an ongoing research project. For more information contact Deputy Director Emily Half.


The Summer Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (SURA) course awards tuition-free elective credit to first-year and sophomore undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for existing faculty projects focused on undergraduate research or creative inquiry under the direction of a Carnegie Mellon faculty member.


Small Undergraduate Research Grants (SURG), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), and International Small Undergraduate Research Grants (ISURG) are offered by Carnegie Mellon University's Undergraduate Research Office, these grants and fellowships provide funding for undergraduate students to pursue research in any discipline. 

Undergraduate Summer Research (99-409)

This 1-unit tuition-free course allows undergraduate students from all fields to participate in research under the direction of a Carnegie Mellon faculty member. Prior to enrolling, students should have previously participated in summer research via the Summer Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship and/or the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. For more information visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Education website.