Carnegie Mellon University

Undergraduate Research Grants

Because our students have many opportunities to receive research training, they are highly successful when applying for research grants and fellowships.  Below are just a few of the research awards available to you.

Ireland Award

$3,000 to support high-quality undergraduate research projects  

Note: CV/Resume, budget proposal (explain how you will use the $3,000 to contribute to your research experience, about 1 page) and at least 1 letter of recommendation

Small Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG)

Up to $1000 to offset the costs of undergraduate research projects (materials, participant compensation, etc.).  

When to Apply: SURG applications are usually due several months before the semester in which the SURG is set to begin.  SURG applications for the upcoming fall semester are usually due in March and applications for the spring semester are usually due in October.  You should choose a faculty mentor and begin drafting your application at least one month before the application deadline.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

$3500 to support 8-10 weeks of summer research at Carnegie Mellon University.

When to Apply: SURF Applications are usually due in March, the summer before the fellowship is set to begin.  However, you should choose a faculty mentor and begin drafting your application at least one month before the deadline.

Dietrich Honors Fellowship

Up to $6500 to support honors thesis research

When to Apply: Applications are usually due during the semester before the Honors Thesis project is set to begin—March, for projects beginning in the Fall semester and October for projects beginning in the Spring semester.  You should discuss your application and your Honors Thesis project with your faculty mentor at least one month before the application is due.

When you apply for a SURG or SURF grant, you must choose a faculty member who will supervise your project.  Students often choose faculty members for whom they have already worked as a research assistant, but you should choose a mentor who is conducting research that you find exciting because students’ projects are often related to their faculty mentor’s work.

Schedule a meeting with the faculty member to ask if they are willing and able to supervise a project in the coming semester.  After they have agreed, you and your mentor will discuss the details of your project and you will begin drafting a proposal.

Many students from every college in the university apply for SURG and SURF grants each semester, and the university only awards grants to the best applicants.  To be granted funding, you must submit a strong proposal.

Start early

SURG and SURF proposals have several components, including a personal statement, a letter of support from your faculty advisor, a resume, and a detailed statement describing your research project.  To write a strong research statement, you will need to read and cite related literature, clearly explain the methods and importance of your project, and convince the Undergraduate Research Office that you have the skills and resources to accomplish your project within your proposed timeline. 

You will likely write and revise several drafts of your proposal based on feedback from your faculty mentor. To prepare a strong application, you should begin your application at least one month prior to the due date.

Seek feedback

Ask your faculty mentor for examples of successful proposals—many students within our department have received both SURG and SURF grants, and it is helpful to have a strong model while writing.

The Undergraduate Research Office also holds workshops to help students write strong proposals.  Consider attending one of these workshops, or meeting with a member of the Undergraduate Research Office.  Visit URO’s website to learn more.

Successful Proposals: Example

To help you get started writing, here is a successful proposal submitted by an undergraduate student in recent years.

SURG Proposal - Developmental

SURG Proposal - Developmental


Funds a research project or an English Teaching Assistantship in a country outside of the United States for a period of 8-12 months.

When to Apply: Students begin preparing their applications in May and June the summer before the application is due.  Applications are usually due on campus in September.

Marshall Award

Funds students to study for a post-graduate degree in the United Kingdom.

When to apply: Students usually begin preparing their applications in April, the spring before the application is due.  Applications are usually due on campus in September.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Funding for students to pursue graduate study in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Engineering.

When to Apply: Applications are usually due for Psychology students in November, but check the NSF website for exact dates.  You should begin preparing your NSF application in August.

The Council on Undergraduate Research’s Psychology Division sponsors conference travel awards for psychology undergraduates who are presenting original research at regional or national meetings.