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Undergraduate Research Scholarships



In UC San Diego's Undergraduate Research Scholarship (URS) program, several different donor-funded scholarships are available across multiple research areas. Undergraduate students use the funds for a research project to be completed over the summer under the guidance of a UC San Diego faculty mentor.

The URS Summer research project must be work above and beyond the normal course of study. Students should have a project where their role is defined and that they can take ownership of, even if it is part of a larger project.

Program and Application Dates

Application Dates

The applications typically open up in early December. The scholarships have varying deadlines in March/April. Specific dates for 2024 will be posted once known.

  • URS Starbucks Sustainable Solutions Scholarship - Open! Closes February 20, 2024

Program Dates

Tentatively June 24 - August 30, 2024


  • Mentored research experience: Conduct ~30 hours/week of research mentored by a UC San Diego faculty member
  • Conference presentation and networking experience at the Summer Research Conference
  • Professional development: A series of workshops on topics such as, but not limited to, research ethics and presenting your research.
  • Co-Curricular Record: Recognition of some research-activities on your co-curricular record.
  • Network: A close rapport with a faculty mentor can open up your world to a wider research community and the chance to meet leaders, future colleagues, and lifelong friends who share your intellectual curiosity.
  • Conference travel funding: By participating in URS, you qualify to apply for URH's conference travel funding.

Requirements and Exclusions


  • Conduct research activities for 36+ hours each week during the 10-week program
  • Attend the Summer Research Program Orientation
  • Attend two Summer Research Program seminars:
    • Research Ethics
    • How to Present Your Research / SRC FAQs
    • Other seminars are option
  • Attend one Library Training seminar
  • Attend weekly cohort meetings
  • Present at the Summer Research Conference (usually the end of the 3rd week in August)
  • Submit a Final Product
  • Submit a Scholarship Program Summary (Between 1 paragraph and 1 page)


  • Students must not be in the process of completing a 5-year BS/MS or BA/MA degree.
  • Students must not be graduated before the program begins.
  • Students may not take classes (either session 1 or session 2) during the scholarship period.
  • Students may not hold an outside job during the scholarship period and may be asked to sign a form indicating they have ended all employment for the summer. 
  • Students may not be concurrently paid through their research group for work done during the summer.


  • All current UC San Diego undergraduates in any major who will be enrolled the following school year (through at least Fall Quarter after the summer program) are eligible to apply.
    • Students who plan on graduating mid-year may also apply, provided the project and final report are completed before graduation.
    • Students will not be eligible if they will have graduated before summer. 
    • Students also cannot be part of a BS/MS or BA/MA program during the award period. 
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or eligible under AB540 "California Dream Act".
  • The project must be completed while the applicant is a UC San Diego undergraduate. 
  • Applicants may re-apply for the scholarship, even if they've been awarded a scholarship in previous years.
    • There is no guarantee to receive the scholarship, even if you've been awarded in the past -- all applicants are considered against the applicant pool of that year only.
  • The subject matter does not have to be related to the student's major, minor, or other coursework, although preference may be given to those that do have a major related to specific scholarship goals, depending on the scholarship(s) the student is applying to. 

*Each scholarship has additional eligibility requirements. See more details on the URS Scholarship page.

Before Applying

Review scholarships

  • Review available scholarships on the URS Scholarships page
  • Applicants can apply to multiple scholarships but must submit one research proposal per scholarship. The same proposal may be used for multiple research scholarship applications, as indicated on the application form. 

If chosen for more than one scholarship, a student may only accept one scholarship during the summer research period.

Find a faculty mentor

  • Don't have a research mentor yet? Check out our URH tips on how to find a research mentor.
  • If it feels overwhelming to get started with a research mentor or you have had trouble finding a research mentor on your own, consider making an appointment with the URS coordinator to discuss strategies in approaching a potential research mentor. 
  • If you already have a faculty research mentor, you're set! This will be the person who will write your letter of recommendation/support for this project.
  • Note: For the URS HIV Institute opportunity, you do not need a mentor ahead of time -- you can apply first, and if selected, you can be matched with an mentor if you do not have one already. 

Expectations of faculty mentor - When contacting/meeting with potential mentors, be sure to share this list with them so they know the expectations before agreeing to be your mentor.

  • Mentor and oversee the student's research/artistic endeavor/public service project. 
  • Provide the student with resources and training as appropriate. 
  • Ensure that the student completes all training and certifications required by the field prior to starting any research. In some instances, this will include Laboratory Safety Training. 
  • Understand that the student researcher is required to work approximately 30-40 hours a week on research activities which I will assign. 
  • Provide at least two hours a week of direct individual supervision or assign someone to assist the student in my stead. 
  • Understand that there are programmatic requirements that may take the student away from research activities such as cohort meetings (1 hr/week), program seminars (up to 1 hr/week), and other professional development activities throughout the summer. 
  • Understand that the student is required to submit a research paper or final product. 
  • Provide feedback on the student's research paper/final project.   
  • Understand that the student researcher will present their research at the Summer Research Conference, typically at the end of Week 8 of the program. 
  • Agree to approve the student’s abstract and oral presentation for the Summer Research Conference.  
  • Time permitting, complete program surveys to provide useful feedback. 
  • Optional: If possible, attend the Mentor Orientation Breakfast that takes place prior to the start of Summer Research Program. 

Application Process

Application Process

There are 4 items required to apply to the URS Program:

1. Applications

  • General Application and Undergraduate Application (When you finish the general application, you will be automatically directed to complete the undergraduate application).
  • Scholarship Specific URS Application (After you finish the previous two applications, you will be given the opportunity to choose to complete the Scholarship Specific URS application.)

2. Essays (as part of the URS Application)

  • Research proposal: Each scholarship application (opportunity) will require a research proposal to be submitted. We suggest you work with your research mentor on this research proposal -- it is NOT required to come up with a brand new idea on your own. Your project can also be a continuation of a project that has already begun. You can submit the same proposal to multiple scholarships since each scholarship is reviewed by a different committee.
    • Please follow these guidelines:
      • Title
      • Overview / abstract of project (250 words max) 
      • Detailed description of the project: (1,000 words max)
        • research question
          • the goal of the work
          • the potential significance of the project
        • preliminary work accomplished and/or relevant experience
        • methods or theoretical/critical frameworks you will use, with appropriate citations
        • timeline of the work you expect to accomplish over 10 weeks of the summer -- late June to end of August
        • list of references cited (not included in the 1,000 word maximum)


    • Note: for the URS HIV Institute opportunity, a research proposal is not a required element of the application. If selected for the opportunity, you can be matched with a mentor and project, if you do not have one already. 

  • Personal statement: Describe how carrying out this summer research project would advance your academic and professional goals (600 words max). 
    • Points to include:
      • academic and personal achievements
      • talents, experiences, interests (related to your field of interest/research)
      • academic and professional goals – the kinds of contributions you would like to make and how this research will advance your academic and professional goals
      • (if applicable) role models, influences (related to your field of interest/research)
      • (if applicable) special circumstances you feel the committee should consider as part of your application. This could include personal or academic challenges you may have overcome to get you where you are today.

Be sure to proofread and edit your answers many times before submitting. It is also advised to have someone else review it and provide feedback. In addition to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, review your personal statement for clarity, flow, and continuity of points. Remember to use paragraphs to separate the main points.

3. IRB declaration

  • Question: Is Internal Review Board (IRB) approval necessary for this project, and if so, has it been obtained by you or your faculty mentor? 
    • Not necessary, project does not involve "human research"
    • Project qualifies under "human research", deemed exempt from IRB regulation by the board
    • Project qualifies under "human research", has IRB approval
    • Project is in the process of being reviewed by the IRB
This is required for studies involving human subjects. Check with your professor if you are unsure. More information about IRB is here.

4. Copies of transcripts

  • If you are an incoming transfer student (You do not have a UC San Diego GPA):
    • A copy of your unofficial transcript(s) from previous school(s) (community colleges, other universities, etc.)
  • If you have attended UC San Diego for at least 1 quarter:
    • If you completed coursework prior to attending UC San Diego (e.g., transfer credits), they will appear on your UC San Diego transcript. You do not need to upload transfer transcripts.

5. Letter of recommendation

  • The letter of recommendation should be from the faculty member/principal investigator (PI) you plan to work with for the summer URS project. Graduate students, postdocs, lab managers, or other members of the research group can co-write this letter, but the letter itself should be submitted by the faculty member. 
  • The letter of recommendation is due at the same time as the URS application (usually late February, early March).
  • Only 1 letter is needed for this application. 
  • What we're looking for in the letter of recommendation / support:
    • potential significance of this project
    • review of the student's qualifications to carry out the project
    • advisor's assessment of the student's potential to make contributions to the field
    • comparison to other students faculty has mentored
  • What if I don't really know the faculty member / PI well?
    • Faculty can write this letter, even if you've only just started a research project by focusing on the second and third points above: discussing your qualifications and potential to make contributions to the field.
  • How to request a letter of recommendation:
    • In order to submit the name of your faculty member, you must first complete the General Application. Once you see the list of Recommended Opportunities, select the name of the opportunity you would like to apply for (e.g. Summer URS Ledell Family Research Scholarship for Science and Engineering). The first question you'll see is URS - Faculty Sponsor and Contact Information. Once you answer the question with your faculty's name, email address, and department, and you click on "save and keep editing", an email will be sent to the reference inviting them to complete a reference questionnaire.
    • If you wish to use the same letter for all URS opportunities, you can select the name of that faculty from a drop-down list in any subsequent opportunity that you click on. 

Note: for the URS HIV Institute opportunity, a letter of recommendation is not needed or requested. For this opportunity, a student just needs 2 references who may be contacted if students are selected for the opportunity. 

Selection Process

The scholarship selection committee may include: the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships and Honors, department faculty, program affiliates, or judges selected by sponsoring donors. The scholarship selection committee is chosen based on criteria set forth by sponsoring donors associated with each individual scholarship. This committee selects the winners, who will be notified by e-mail or on the application portal in late April/early May.


  • Students not awarded will be notified via the application portal. The application status will say "not offered".
  • Students will not receive more than one research award.
  • If the student's project changes significantly between the application and the award period, the review committee reserves the right to request and review an updated proposal. 
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The Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarships for summer 2024 applications will open early December 2023 and be due February 28 - March 8 (deadline will vary depending on the particular scholarship). Individual scholarship deadlines will be viewable in the in the AcademicWorks application portal (link below). You must complete the General application before you can submit your URS application(s). Applicants must submit an application for each URS opportunity in the portal that they wish to be considered for.

Application Portal

URS Coordinator Contact Information

Undergraduate Research Logo

Contact: Sophia Tsai, PhD


Phone: 858-534-9014

Make an appointment: