Office of Undergraduate Research

and Creative Scholarship

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs)

The goal of the SURF program is to have students engage in research that is full-time, faculty-mentored, novel and presentable outside the university.  The quality of the mentoring from the faculty member is vital as the goal of these fellowships is to advance the students in their professional and personal development.  Projects that are more independent in nature may be better suited for independent study projects.  Projects across a broad range of disciplines are desired; the form of the project will necessarily vary depending on the nature of the field. The common feature is that all projects are scholarly, with a focus placed on the process involved as well as on the product. 

We will award up to 5 fellowships for the summer. The SURFs are to support undergraduate research in disciplines outside the Natural Science Division, the Economics Department, and the Global Studies Program. Students in the Natural Science Division should apply for Swenson, Darling, or Stauffer summer research fellowships, Economics students should apply for the Overton Summer Research Program, and Global Studies students should apply for Pearson Scholars Summer Program.


  • Nominated students may apply for approximately $4,000 that requires that the student participate in approximately 8 weeks of full-time mentored summer research with a CLU faculty member.  Students will submit time sheets and will be paid biweekly.
  • Funds for approved “consumables” can be provided (up to $500). Consumables include printing costs, travel to special libraries, office supplies, etc.  Consumables do not include dining costs, books or films, payment for subjects, or non-essential travel costs. All expenditures must be approved prior to purchase by the OUR. 
  • Faculty compensation is $500 per student.
  • On-campus housing is available and students can move in as early as May 14th. The OURCS will provide some housing assistance, but students will have to pay the bulk of the $180/week cost.  More information about housing will be available late spring.


This program is open to students across all programs not covered by other summer research programs. Students in the Natural Sciences, Economics Department, and Global Studies Program are not eligible.

  • Students must be nominated by a faculty member who can commit to act as the project mentor.  It is expected that the faculty mentor will meet with the student on a regular basis. Faculty and/or students who are not going to be on campus for the majority of the summer should not submit an application. 
  • Research typically begins around May 21st and concludes in mid-late July, but may begin as early as May 14th and may continue through the summer. It must conclude prior to the start of fall classes.
  • Students should not have another job during this time and can take, at most, one summer class.  It is best if the student does not have any other obligations during this time as the intent of this program is to provide a means to allow a student to be fully immersed in the research process.
  • Students must be returning to the university in the fall semester. Graduating seniors are not eligible.


  • It is expected that the student have full ownership of the project and that they are not acting as a research assistant for the faculty member. This must be clear in the submitted application and in the final product.
  • It is important that students become part of the scholarly community on campus during the summer. Students are expected to participate in OURCS-sponsored events which will include social events as well as research-related events. These will occur roughly every other week between May 21st and July 20th. Mentors are strongly encouraged to accompany their students to these events.
  • Prior to beginning the project, the faculty mentor and student will develop a plan which will be shared in writing with the Director of the OURCS.  Students will be asked to meet with the Director to discuss how the project is progressing and for the Director to learn more about each project.  Faculty will also be consulted about the project's progress. Failure to progress appropriately may jeopardize project funding.
  • If projects involve Human Subjects, the IRB Application should be submitted in March. Assistance in the IRB process can be provided from the OURCS. Failure to have an approved IRB application may jeopardize the funding of the project.
  • Each Fellow must present their results of their summer research work at the CLU Student Research Symposium which is held in the fall.  Additionally, students are expected to present at the Festival of Scholars in the spring.
  • Students should plan on presenting at the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) which is always held in the Los Angeles area in the fall OR at a discipline-specific professional conference. Students may apply for an Undergraduate Professional Presentation Travel (UPPT) Grant through the OURCS for the costs associated with these off-campus presentations.
  • If possible, faculty and students should work toward publishing their results in a journal within their discipline.
  • Only full awards will be given – students  cannot share a fellowship and cannot share a project.  Each student must have a full-time project that is her/his own distinct project.

How to Apply


    1. Talk with a faculty member in your area of study about possibly working with them over the summer. 
    2. With your faculty mentor, decide on a topic and write a 1-2 page proposal for how you will explore that topic through research or creative scholarship. 
    3. Email OURCS. If you are planning to submit an application, please email let us know via email as early as possible. This is not binding, but rather to give us a rough idea of how many applications we can anticipate.
    4. Letter of Recommendation -In addition to the application information outlined below, each application must include a confidential letter of recommendation from another faculty member (not the faculty mentor).  The letter should comment on the student's academic abilities as well as their work ethic, responsibility, and initiative. The letter should be sent directly to the OURCS or can be hand-delivered to the OURCS by the faculty member.  The content of this letter will only be seen by the Director of the OURCS – it will not be shared with the student or the faculty mentor.
           With your faculty mentor, draft an application with the following information (below). When ready, you can submit a completed application online.  If your proposal contains images, special characters or formulas, you may email the application.

        The deadline for applications is 5:00 pm on March 1. If March 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the application deadline will move to the following Monday at 5:00 pm. Applications received after the deadline will be considered only if funds remain after all other projects are evaluated. The application document must include (online form will ask for the same information as noted below):


Online Application Submission Form

  1. The application form will request  the following information: 
    • Student  (Full Name, Major, Email, and Graduation Date)
    • Faculty Research Mentor (Name & Email)
    • GPA. Student's grade point average (overall and in discipline of study)
    • Student's previous research experience – state-specific projects and their context (e.g. class)
    • Title of the proposed project
    • Proposal. A 1-2 page description of the research project that the student intends to conduct during the summer. The student must address both the specifics of the proposed research as well as the broad context of the proposed work. We recommend framing it using these sections:   Background Info/Literature Review,  Research Question, Hypothesis, Method (be specific!), Anticipated Results, and Importance of the Research.  It must be clear that the student is capable of ownership of this project and that the project is not simply the faculty member's research. It is fine for the project to be related to the faculty's research (in fact, preferable if it is!), but the student cannot simply be a research assistant for the faculty member.
    • Timeline. Week by week detailed plan for your research activities during the eight-week session. 
    • Presentations. The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has published extensively on the importance for the student's identity and professional development that the project leads to a product (e.g., paper, poster, performance, etc.) that is shared by the student with others beyond the university. Identify the venue at which you anticipate the results of this project could be presented, not including the on-campus presentations which are required as part of the award.
    • SRS Availability. Presenting at the Fall 2017 Student Research Symposium is mandatory for all 2017 Research Fellows. This year, it will be Saturday, October 14th, 2017 in the morning during Homecoming. Can you commit to attending this important event? 
    • Weekly Event Availability. Weekly Event Availability. During June and July, we meet as a group every Wednesday from 3:00-5:00 to develop professional skills and to provide peer support. Will you be able to attend these meetings? 
    • Budget. Estimated consumable cost and explanation of these costs – there is funding for an average of about $500 per project.  Specific details (items, costs, and justification) must be given.
    • Other Funding. Fellowship resources are limited and it is important that as many qualified students as possible have the opportunity to engage in mentored research. Indicate whether there are other funding sources available to the mentor for research. If so, identify both external and internal sources such as grants and departmental funds for research students.
    • Previous Mentorship (Faculty). List previous Cal Lutheran summer research fellowship students the faculty member has mentored or co-mentored.  Next to each student's name, indicate the outcome of the project – was it presented off campus?  If so, where and when?  Have the results been written up and submitted to a journal?  If so, when and what journal?  For both presentations and publications, please send electronic copies of the abstracts/manuscripts.
    • Mentoring Plan (Faculty). The OURCS wants to ensure that a student is likely to be successful in this process. (a) Students differ in the degree and type of guidance they need and faculty differ in their mentoring style and expectations. Please address this issue, indicating the mentoring plan (daily meetings? weekly meetings with daily skype availability? etc.) and how this plan is likely to fit the student's needs so that the project will be successful. (b) Establishing a strong, supportive research community is also important for student success – indicate whether you plan to accompany your student to the regular OURCS gatherings through the summer.

Decision Process

All applications will be reviewed by the OURCS Executive Committee.

  • The committee will review and rate applications based on the following four criteria:
    • Sound professional merit/methodology. The application addresses both the specifics of the proposed project and the broad context of the proposed work. An hypothesis-driven research endeavor is expected in science.
    • Doable and likely that the main goals will be accomplished by the student in an 8-week program.
    • Will result in a product that will be presentable off campus at a peer-reviewed venue.
    • The student's talents and background are appropriate for the proposed work, given the guidance likely to be given by the mentor.
  • The Director of the OURCS and the Dean will be consulted as part of the decision-making process. 
  • Faculty with other funding sources (e.g. grants or department funds) will be given lower priority than those without funding sources.
  • Previous project outcomes will be considered in the overall selection process with priority given to those previous projects that resulted in discipline-specific conference presentations or publications.
  • No more than two student awards per faculty mentor will be given.  Only full awards will be given to students – no sharing of projects will be allowed.  Each student will be given a full-time award for their own distinct project.
  • The quality of the writing will be taken into consideration – a well-written proposal will be given preference over a poorly written proposal.
  • Priority will be given to quality projects with the desire of having a wide range of disciplines represented, if possible. 
  • To increase the impact of the program, students who have not previously received a Swenson Fellowship will be given priority over those who have been awarded a fellowship in the past.
  • Additionally, projects that support the university mission will be given priority.
  • Faculty and student interviews may take place, if necessary.
  • Faculty and students will be notified of the status of their application within approximately 2 weeks via email.