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Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods

2020 Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods

The UC Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative is delighted to host the 3rd annual Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods (SIMRM), to be held at the University of California, Berkeley campus from May 26-June 5, 2020. The Institute is organized and directed by Irene Bloemraad (UCB) and Jennifer Van Hook (Pennsylvania State University). The costs for participation, airfare, accommodation and meals for the duration of the program will be covered by the Summer Institute, which is made possible thanks to the generous funding from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Russell Sage Foundation.

The 10-day workshop will train up to 28 graduate students, early-career researchers and beginning faculty in best-practices and in methodologies especially relevant to the study of immigration and migrant populations. The 2020 program will focus on: (1) conceptualizing, measuring and imputing legal status in migration studies; (2) studying immigration through social media and computational analysis; and (3) current frontiers in research on migration and health. The institute will also include sessions on research ethics and professionalization. Each day of the institute includes a mixture of instructional lectures and hands-on practical instruction or discussion and it reserves time for feedback on participants’ work.

This year, the Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods will be organized in partnership with the Summer Institute on Migration and Global Health. This is an annual international event that provides an interdisciplinary applied research platform for migration and global health, which includes public health, public policy, and social science perspectives. The three-day event includes a combination of lectures, panel discussions,  workshops, poster sessions, and field trips, to offer an exceptional opportunity not only to learn, but also to create professional networks. The 15th Summer Institute on Migration and Global Health is organized by the Health Initiative of the Americas at UC Berkeley, and it will take place in Oakland and Berkeley, California, from June 3 to 5, 2020. More information at

Confirmed instructors:

- Irene Bloemraad (UC Berkeley)
- Jenny van Hook (PennState)
- James Bachmeier (Temple University)
- Joanna Dreby (SUNY, University at Albany)
- Jens Hainmueller (Stanford University)
- Brandie Nonnecke (UC Berkeley)

Participation is restricted to Ph.D. students, postdoctoral or early-career researchers, and untenured faculty within 5 years from their Ph.D. who do empirical research on migration. It is open to researchers in the social sciences, professional schools (e.g., Education, Public Policy), or humanities (including digital humanities) who have sufficient training and background to succeed.

The primary recruitment pool is universities, but the Institute welcomes applications from researchers in government or non-profit organizations. There are no restrictions based on citizenship, country of study, or country of employment. Those who might not otherwise be eligible for support under federal funding guidelines will be supported through the generosity of the Russell Sage Foundation.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted via the RSF online application portal, Fluxx.

1) Create an account or log in to your existing account. **Allow up to 48 hours for a new account to be approved; please register by February 1, 2020**

2) Start a new "Summer Institute" application and select “Migration Research Methods.”

3) Submit the following documents:

  • a motivation letter explaining your current research, how it relates to the Institute’s 2020 training priorities and how attending the Summer Institute will advance your research;
  • a research abstract (N.B: this is a brief text on the application, not a document upload);
  • a 3-5 page CV;
  • For Ph.D. students only: an (unofficial) grade transcript

Complete applications must be received by February 10, 2020. Organizers will notify applicants solely through e-mail by mid-March and will ask selected applicants to confirm their participation shortly thereafter. 

Inquiries can be sent to the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative at

Technical questions about the application portal (Fluxx) can be sent to

See fore more information the full call for applications.


2020 Application FAQ

  • I don't have a grade transcript for my PhD program? Please submit your latest grade transcript. If you have completed a Master's degree, please upload the grade transcript of your Master's degree. Is the highest degree you have completed before your PhD program a Bachelor's degree, please upload the grade transcript of your undergraduate degree.
  • May I submit application materials in another language than English? Please only submit application materials in English. If you have a grade transcript in another language than English, please upload the original non-English transcript with an (unofficial) translation saved as 1 single file.
  • What is the maximum length of the motivation letter/statement of interest? There is no word limit or page requirement for the motivation letter. However, we urge you to be concise and urge you to stay under 1 page in length.
  • What is the maximum length of the research abstract and what should the abstract focus on? Please submit an abstract describing your current/ongoing research. There is no word limit, but usually abstracts are between 100-350 words in length. Again, we appreciate your ability to describe your research in a concise manner.
  • I am not currently enrolled in a PhD program and have not completed a PhD, am I eligible to participate? The program is open to migration resesarchers who have not completed a PhD program and are not currently enrolled in a PhD program. However, we do require you to have completed a Master's degree, to currently be conducting empirical research on a topic related to the Summer Institute, and to have completted training in quantitative research methods.
  • Do you accept appliccants irrespective of nationality or country of residence? There are no citizeznship or residency requirements ot participate in the Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods. We will accept applicants irrespective of legal status, current country of residence or citizenship. There are a few spots reserved in the program thanks to the generous funding of the Russell Sage Foundation.
  • What are the costs of participation in the Summer Institute? The Summer Institute covers accommodation for the duration of the Summer Institute (single bedroom in student suites), all meals for the duration of the Summer Institue, airfaire (economy - on average ~$600 per participant), and tuition fees.

2018 Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods

Program Overview

The 2018 Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods (SIMRM) provided 8 days of training in the use and analysis of migration data at Berkeley from June 17 through June 28, 2018. It targeted early career scholars (graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and untenured junior faculty five years from PhD). The institute drew local and national experts to train attendees and provide on-site mentorship. Most participant costs were covered thanks to award #78-18-01 from the Russell Sage Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The inaugural institute focused on three topics:

  • Collecting, imputing and analyzing data related to legal status
  • Best practices and new methods for surveying immigrant and mobile populations
  • The use of new data sources (e.g., web scraping, social media data) in migration studies.


Presentation Slides from 2018 Session

Legal Status in Migration Studies

Law and Migration 
by Dr. Volpp

Introduction to collecting/imputing legal status 
by Dr. Bachmeier, Dr. Van Hook

Causal identification of legal status effects 
by ​Dr. Hainmueller

Assessing immigration and enforcement policies 
by Dr. Amuedo-Dorantes, Dr. Lofstrom


Studying Mobile or Hidden Populations

Survey methods & immigrants: 
the pros and cons of different
by Dr. Lee

Using social networks and
respondent-driven sampling
by Dr. Verdery

New computational network methods
by Dr. Feehan


Mixed method techniques:
by Dr. Garip


New Data Source

Introduction to web scraping 
by Dr. Scott


Web scraping, social media,
machine learning & the Hate Speech
by Ms. Broege

Visualizing (spatial) data using data
on refugee camps
by Dr. Frontiera


Additional sessions not included in this list are those for which slides are unavailable. To see the full list of topics covered, see the "Program" link above.

Instructors from 2018 Session

Prof. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes,
UC San Diego (Economics)

Nora Broege,
UC Berkeley
(D-Lab & Sociology)


Prof. Irene Bloemraad,
UC Berkeley (Sociology)

Prof. Dennis Feehan,
UC Berkeley (Demography)

Dr. Patty Frontiera,
UC Berkeley (D-Lab)

Prof. Filiz Garip,
Cornell University (Sociology)


Prof. Taeku Lee,
UC Berkeley (Law)

Prof. Katerina Linos,
UC Berkeley (Law)

Professor James Bachmeier photo
Prof. James Bachmeier,
Temple University (Sociology)
Migration Policy Institute

Professor Hainmueller photo
Prof. Jens Hainmueller,
Stanford University 
(Political Science)


Prof. Magnus Lofstrom,
Julian Samora Research Institute
UC San Diego (Economics)

Prof. Jennifer van Hook,
Pennsylvania State 
(Sociology and Demography)

Prof. Cecilia Menjívar,
UCLA (Sociology)

Prof. Ashton Verdery,
Penn State (Sociology)


Prof. Leti Volpp,
UC Berkeley (Law)

Prof. Tom Wong
UC San Diego (Political Science)




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