To engage and develop students’ professional competencies beyond those typically addressed within their academic training and "to enable versatile academics who are deeply engaged with society’s needs to become influential professionals in every sector and field."


As an intern for the Center for Survey Research, Eli worked on a wide variety of surveys ranging from a survey about local governments' solar power initiatives here in Virginia to a survey about colorectal cancer in Appalachia.  

Sidney interned with the Cooper Center Communications Team, contributing her excellent writing talents to multiple projects across the Center, from social media posts to website content to the Cooper Center Impact Report. 

Rebecca interned with the Demographics Research Group, co-authoring blog posts, collaborating with other researchers on client-based projects, and assisted with other projects, including developing a customer satisfaction survey. 


PhD Plus program is run by the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs and provides PhD students the opportunity to pursue an internship with a University office or external partner. The intent of these internships is to engage and develop students’ professional competencies beyond those typically addressed within their academic training. The goal of the program is to provide students with substantive exposure to hands-on, real world projects that will broaden their skillset and their career options.

Program Structure at the Cooper Center

  • The program is funded through the Wallerstein Scholars Program and provides students a $5,000 stipend for 200 hours of work per semester. 
  • Internships are for one semester or a full academic year.
  • Interns have the opportunity to work in one of leadership development programs, research units, or our media team.
  • The supervision and project responsibilities are determined by the director of the group for which the student works, but all projects will expose students to real world public service work from developing research skills, to communicating research to general audiences, to working with clients, to producing podcasts or videos.

Past Internships

  • Dipshikha Thakur, a PhD student in English Literature and Language and a former professional journalist, researched contemporary writings, training models, and approaches to reinforcing civility and civil discourse in public life. She presented her findings to the Center and completed a formal report.
  • Andrea Negrete, a PhD student in Community Psychology, worked with the Center for Survey Research, using both her qualitative and quantitative skills on several projects, including the Cancer Center Survey which will help inform UVA Health System centers as they develop programs to best meet health needs in the area. As a bilingual researcher, Andrea also provided Spanish translation support on multiple projects.
  • Gopal Midha, a PhD student in the School of Education and Human Development, researched and identified national trends in rural community leadership development initiatives and led the creation of a leadership development summit for individuals currently serving in local government in Southwest Virginia.


If you are interested in the PhD+ program, view the PhD Plus website or contact Sonali Majumdar in the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs. Applications typically open in early February with applications due by around March 1 and open again in late April with applications due in May.



More Stories from PhD Plus Interns

Ilma interned with the Cooper Center Communications Team, assisting with the Cooper Center newsletter, creating graphics for social media and analyzing the Center's social media performance. 

Kevin interned with the Economic and Policy Studies Team, contributing his research talents to the Energy Transition Initiative. In particular, he analyzed the solar development permitting process in Virginia to determine ways to streamline the process, and published a report of his findings. 

Gopal interned with the Weldon Cooper Center researching community leadership and assisting with the development of a workshop for strengthening the skills of local leaders in Southwest Virginia. 

Laura interned with the Center for Survey Research working in all aspects of survey work from drafting survey instruments and programming them into Qualtrics, to analyzing data, to conducting interviews and participating in client meetings.