Skip to main content

How to Apply to Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS)

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. 

Students will need to also submit a Final Report at the conclusion of their 10-week experience. This will be due one week after the end of the program.

1. Determine Eligibility

  • 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 the following guidelines:


Overview / Abstract of Project (250 word limit) 

Detailed description of the project: (1,000 word 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 Summer 2022 -- late June to end of August
  • A statement noting if Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is needed or not. This is required for studies involving human subjects. Check with your professor if you are unsure. More information about IRB is here.
  • List of references cited (not included in the 1,000 word maximum)

4. Personal Statement

Personal statement: describing how carrying out this summer research project would advance your academic and professional goals (600 word 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.

5. Letter of Recommendation / Support

Letter of recommendation/support: 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. Only 1 letter is needed for this application. Faculty can write this letter, even if you've only just started a research project by focusing on the second and third points below: discussing your qualifications and potential to make contributions to the field.

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
  • A statement noting if Internal Review Board (IRB) approval is needed or not (i.e. working with human subjects)

The letter of recommendation is due at the same time as the URS application (usually early February).

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. 

Text illustration APPLY

6. Online Application

The Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarships 2022 applications will be due on March 1 (HIV Institute) or March 15 (Starbucks Sustainable Solutions). All other URS opportunities are currently closed. In the AcademicWorks application portal (link below), you must complete the General application before you can submit your URS application(s). Applicants must submit one application per URS opportunity in the portal to be considered.

Visit the application portal

7. Selection

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 2022.


  • 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. 

If awarded:

  • Students must not be in the process of completing a 5-year BS/MS or BA/MA degree.
  • Students must not be graduated by Summer 2022
  • Students may not take classes (either session 1 or session 2) during the scholarship period (June 20 - August 26, 2022).
  • Students may not hold an outside job during the scholarship period (June 20 - August 26, 2022) 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.

Current Scholars

As a participant of URS and the Summer Research Program make sure you are up-to-date on all required activities and requirements.

Stay Informed

URS Coordinator Contact Information

Contact: Sophia Tsai, PhD


Phone: 858-534-9014

Make an appointment: