Carnegie Mellon University

SURG: Small Undergraduate Research Grants

The Small Undergraduate Research Grants (SURG) program offers grants for materials and supplies to undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for research in any field of study. 

SURG Proposal Deadlines for Spring 2025 Awards:

Student Proposal Deadline: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2024 (11:59 pm)
Faculty Letter of Recommendation Submission Deadline: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2024 (11:59 pm)

Decisions announced: late-November

What can I do?

Students interested in any form of research may apply. You can work alone or in a group, in a traditional or interdisciplinary field, in a professor’s lab or in a studio—it’s up to you.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development adheres to a broad definition of research: “Research, scholarly, or artistic activities that lead to the production of new knowledge; to increased problem solving capabilities, including design and analysis; to original, critical or historical theory and interpretation; or to the production of art or artistic performance.”

How much SURG funding can I get?

One-person projects qualify for grants of up to $500.  Group projects can receive up to $1000.  The grants are given as cash awards for materials and supplies related to your project only, and will not affect your financial aid. 

Am I eligible? 

You are eligible if you:

  • are a CMU undergraduate student - including freshmen - in a degree-granting program;
  • are going to be enrolled during the semester of your grant for Fall or Spring awards, or the semester following your grant for Summer awards;
  • are in good standing at the university (not on academic or disciplinary probation or suspension);
  • are not on a leave of absence when applying for SURG and/or are not planning to be on leave during the semester of the grant (please contact our office to discuss your leave);
  • have a faculty member who will meet with you throughout the semester and oversee your progress;
  • will conduct research on campus or at an institution in Pittsburgh.  SURG is not intended to support research at other institutions outside of Pittsburgh or for study abroad; please check ISURG for information on materials and supplies support for a research project if studying abroad.  

What are the grant requirements?

By accepting a SURG, you are agreeing to:

  • participate in all required OURSD events
  • write a thank you note to your funder
  • complete all surveys connected to your SURG
  • present your work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium (Meeting of the Minds)
  • follow human subjects guidelines.  Read A Note on Human Subjects for instructions.

Failure to satisfy these requirements will result in ineligibility for future awards.

When should I apply?

If you are interested in SURG for Spring 2025, the student submisstion deadline is Wednesday, October 23, 2024. Appointments to meet virtually or in-person with the OURSD to review proposals should be made for no later than October 22, 2024. Appointments are limited, so please plan meetings well in advance of deadlinesFaculty are required to submit the letter of recommendation by Sunday, October 27, 2024.

To make an appointment:
Alex Johnson
Paige Zalman
Richelle Bernazzoli

Your proposal

There are two types of Proposals. Type I is designed for students who are in the Arts and Creative Humanities and covers research-based “making” proposals.  All other students should submit Type II proposals and follow the guidelines for SURG Type II.

 Please follow this format for your proposal:SURG Types   


Please consider your budget carefully.  Include a listing of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item.  All expense items should be explained in a budget narrative included on your budget page and they should include specific vendor information - where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs.  If you are asking for funds to purchase a piece of software, is that software available in a public cluster?  Does a faculty or staff member have the software that you could use when they aren't there?  The selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items and frequently approves partial budgets.  Please list the full estimate of cost and include the total amount, even beyond the SURG maximum. 

Also consider:

  • Conference fees are not allowed (apply separately to the Presentation Award program)
  • Travel costs must be directly related to the proposed research and fully justified; the committee rarely funds airline tickets or international travel
  • Equipment purchases must be fully supported in the proposal and equipment must remain at Carnegie Mellon; state who will be responsible for it when you complete your project
  • Book purchases are approved only if you can show that it is impossible to get what you need from a library or on loan
  • Food costs disallowed

Supporting Materials

Type I: All proposals must contain supporting materials to clarify the proposal. These include prior art or creative work; links to documentation; music compositions; sketches of proposed work; preliminary research; etc. Please limit the supporting materials to five pages.

Type II: Please note that any materials are optional and not required.  Please only include here materials that are directly related to the proposed project. For example, if you are doing an interview- or survey-based study, you could include your interview protocol or sample survey questions. You may also include a larger-scale diagram that does not fit within the three pages of the proposal but is essential for readers’ understanding of your project. Please limit the optional supporting materials to three pages. If supporting materials are not crucial to your proposal, this section should be omitted.

Letter of recommendation by faculty mentor (submitted by mentor)

A SURG requires the direct and regular supervision of a Carnegie Mellon faculty member/researcher. Once you have submitted your application, your advisor will receive an email prompt to upload a letter of recommendation.  If you have questions about a faculty member, please contact our office.