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TOMODACHI-STEM is a five-week research internship with a pre-program four-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, 40 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).

2021 Program

Online Orientation and Program Foundation

Four weeks in spring 2021

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

Research Experience at Lehigh University or Rice University

Five weeks in summer 2021

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.

For more information about TOMODACHI-STEM, please contact Jen Topp at

Program Schedule

DecemberOnline application opens.
JanuaryOnline application and one letter of recommendation due.
FebruaryZoom interviews with program finalists.
Participant selection (up to 10) and notification. Students must accept/decline offer of participation by end of February.  
MarchAfter demonstrating English language competency, students are confirmed as program participants. 
Virtual programming begins to orient students to the program and provide a foundation on which to build during their in-person research experience.
August and SeptemberResearch internship experience at host university begins.
In addition to research, students will also participate in seminars, cultural activities, and English language discussion groups, and language tutoring if they choose.
SeptemberVirtual capstone research presentations 
Tours of Dow Chemical and NASA in Houston

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, send an email to 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 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 with the International Center for Academic and Professional English at Lehigh University, 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.