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TOMODACHI-STEM Women's Leadership and Research Program is a five-week research internship with a pre-program two-week virtual experience for female undergraduates from Japan who are majoring in science and engineering.

Led by two of the United States’ top-ranked research universities – Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Rice University in Houston, Texas – the program serves as a catalyst for female Japanese students in STEM, encouraging them to pursue graduate study and further research in the future. TOMODACHI-STEM participants get:

  • Real-world experience with science and engineering research
  • An introduction to U.S. higher education
  • Opportunities for professional development and career exploration
  • English language enrichment
  • Cultural engagement and collaboration with U.S. students

Since it began in 2016, 49 students have completed the program, 16 have gone on to pursue a master’s degree, and seven have pursued a Ph.D. in STEM. Several have also gained other international experience through further research experiences, graduate school, and student exchange. To learn more about the program's outcomes, see the Tomodachi STEM @ Rice University for Female Students 2017-2019 Assessment Report (pdf).

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2023-2024 Program

Online orientation and program foundation

November 6-20, 2023 

Activities related to career development, research investigation, English language enrichment, team building, and cultural exchange

Research experience at Lehigh University or Rice University

February 10-March 13, 2024

Students join a U.S. research laboratory and, under the close advisement and mentorship of a U.S. graduate student and professor, gain hands-on research experience in a field that aligns with their academic and research interests. Available host labs will be in Lehigh’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and College of Arts and Sciences and Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering and Wiess School of Natural Sciences.

Full cohort stay in Houston, Texas

March 9-13, 2024

Includes tours of NASA and Dow Chemical.

For more information about TOMODACHI-STEM, please contact Stacy Burger at

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Program Schedule

July 1Online application opens
August 18Application deadline
Week of August 28

Interview applicants and make the final selection of students

Week of September 4Notify students of selection
November 6-20

Virtual program

JanuaryPre-departure orientation
February-MarchIn-person research experience

Virtual capstone presentations

Tours of NASA and Dow Chemical in Houston, Texas

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Eligibility Criteria

At the time of application students must be:

  • At least 18 years old;
  • A Japanese citizen or permanent resident;
  • A female, currently enrolled, degree-seeking undergraduate student in good academic standing at a Japanese institution of higher education;
  • A B1, B2, B3, or B4 undergraduate student* (B4 students are only eligible to apply if they will be a degree-seeking graduate (M1) student as of April)
  • Majoring in a science or engineering field and interested in conducting research in a related field
  • Able to express a demonstrated interest in international science and engineering research and future graduate study in your field;
  • Sufficiently fluent in English to successfully conduct research in a U.S. university lab.

*Undergraduate students who are enrolled in a six-year, undergraduate program, such as in medicine, are eligible to apply. To confirm eligibility, contact Stacy Burger at In your email, list the name of your university, the program/field of study you are enrolled in, and the month and year you will graduate from your undergraduate program.

Selection Criteria

When reviewing applications, the program seeks to select students who have:

  • A strong and well-defined interest in international research, particularly in the U.S.;
  • A desire to develop the skills necessary to become a globally competent scientist or engineer;
  • A strong and well-defined interest in the pursuit of future research and graduate study in a science or engineering field;
  • The conversational English language skills necessary to conduct research in the U.S.
English Language Requirements

The language of research host labs at Lehigh and Rice universities is English, and all selected participants must have the English language ability to successfully complete a research experience in the U.S. While you are at your host university, you will speak in English within your lab and on a day-to-day basis. All seminars and workshops will also be conducted in English.

The online application for the program must be written in English and program interviews in English will be conducted with all program finalists via Zoom. If available, students should upload a copy of their most recent TOEFL or IELTS English language test scores.

If you are selected as a program participant, you will be required to provide proof of English language ability in one of the following ways.

Option 1: Pass an English language interview organized by TOMODACHI-STEM and conducted via Zoom

Option 2: Provide Proof of IELTS Score of 7 or above

Option 3: Provide Proof of TOEFL Scores of:

  • TOEFL Paper-based: 600 or above
  • TOEFL Computer-based: 250 or above
  • TOEFL Internet-based: 90 or above

More information on proof of English language competency will be provided to selected program participants in late March/early April.

About the TOMODACHI Initiative 

The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership between the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, with support from the Government of Japan. Born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, TOMODACHI invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. The initiative seeks to foster a “TOMODACHI Generation” of young American and Japanese leaders who are committed to and engaged in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other’s countries and cultures, and possess the global skills and mindsets needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world. Visit us at

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About Lehigh and Rice

Rice University

As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to path-breaking research, unsurpassed teaching, and contributions to the betterment of our world. It seeks to fulfill this mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor. Rice’s small size allows personal interaction between students and professors, while our eminent faculty fosters the intellectual excitement of a major research university. At Rice, undergraduates and graduate students at all levels participate in cutting-edge research with world-class faculty in the humanities, social sciences, engineering and natural sciences. With more than 3,500 undergraduates and more than 2,800 graduate students, Rice offers the best of both worlds: an exceptional educational experience offered by professors who know your name. Rice is located in Houston, Texas.

Lehigh University

Lehigh University is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a vibrant and historic community located just a short drive from New York City and Philadelphia. More than 800,000 people live in the region. Founded in 1865 and now recognized among the nation’s premier research universities, Lehigh offers a rigorous academic experience for more than 7,000 students through its five colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Education and the new College of Health. Lehigh offers over $70 million in undergraduate aid and supports teaching and research across multiple disciplines.