Carnegie Mellon University

SURF: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Summer 2024 SURF Proposal Deadlines:

Student Proposal: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2024 (11:59 pm)
Faculty Letter of Recommendation Upload: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2024 (11:59 pm)

Decisions announced: late March

NEW!  SURF-Sustainability Awards

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program awards $4500 to undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for 8-10 FULL-TIME weeks of summer research ON CAMPUS in any field of study.

What can I do?

Students interested in any form of research may apply, whether faculty led or a self-initiated project. All you need is a faculty advisor willing to supervise your research on campus for 8-10 weeks. You can work alone or in a group, you can join an existing project or you can propose one on your own, but you must apply as an individual – unlike SURG, no group awards are available.  You are also eligible to participate in SURF if you are planning to join a research project within Pittsburgh, at the University of Pittsburgh or Hillman Cancer Center, for example.

How much SURF funding can I get?

Each Fellowship is awarded a $4500 stipend. You will work full-time (37.5 hours per week) over 8-10 weeks, working 300 hours over the course of the summer.  Students will be paid an hourly rate and receive a bi-weekly pay; the faculty advisor and business manager will each need to sign a copy of the student’s contract upon acceptance of the fellowship stipend. The award is subject to all applicable taxes.  Students will not be compensated from the OURSD beyond the $4500 maximum or beyond the established 300-hour maximum.

International students who have never worked in the US will need to obtain a Social Security Number to receive payement for their SURF award.  More information on applying for a SSN is available here.

Housing is not provided with SURF.  Information on summer housing is available here.

Can I take a summer course or serve as a TA/instructor for a summer course and also participate in SURF?

Summer research is a full-time endeavor.  Students are generally discouraged from pursuing credit-bearing work during the period of their undergraduate research.  If a student has a compelling reason to take a summer course, the coursework cannot interfere with the student's research, or with our required Speak Up! series; it should not require any adjustment to the student's research schedule.  Students must receive permission from their faculty mentor and from the Director of the OURSD, Dr. Richelle Bernazzoli, before they may enroll in credit-bearing work or participate as a TA/instructor for the same time period.  

Can I receive SURF and also work another job?

As stated above, summer research is considered to be full-time.  Students may opt to have a second job in the evenings to earn extra funds, but this must not interefere with your full-time hours of research.  Students may not work in another position within the university during the same weeks as full-time research, as this will cause an overtime situation.

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 fulltime during the Fall semester after your fellowship; alumni are not eligible the summer following graduation;
  • are in good academic standing at time of application and during the funding period;
  • are in good standing at the university (not on academic or disciplinary probation or suspension);
  • if you are on a leave of absence the semester in which you are applying for SURF,  or are planning to be on leave during the semester after the grant, please contact our office;
  • have not received SURF in the past;
  • have a faculty member who will meet with you over the summer and oversee your progress;
  • SURF is not intended to support research at other institutions outside of Pittsburgh or for study abroad.  Any questions, please contact our office;
  • will commit to consecutive participation in 8-10 weeks of full-time research in Pittsburgh between May 8th and August 13th, 2024. Students who need to take up to a week or two away from their SURF research during the summer for any reason may ONLY do so if 1) they have explicit approval from their research advisor, and 2) their time away does not conflict with the required Speak Up! research communication workshop series;
  • will commit fulltime to the research position—SURF is in lieu of a job; students work regular hours and submit their time through their home departments.

What are the Fellowship Requirements?

By accepting a SURF, you are agreeing to:

  • be physically located in Pittsburgh for the duration of your research
  • participate in all required OURSD events
  • write a thank you note to your funder
  • complete any surveys connected to your SURF
  • present your work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium (Meeting of the Minds) in May following the summer of your research
  • follow human subjects guidelines.  Read A Note on Human Subjects for instructions
  • begin your research prior to the first Speak Up! session in June (see dates to the right)
  • attend Speak Up! - a cross-disciplinary communication skills seminar for undergraduate summer researchers.  Speak Up! is a series of four modules for SURF students.  Students will learn across each module about when, why, and how we communicate to different, often "non-expert" audiences, through real-world oral and written communication activities focused on translating expertise and energizing audiences.  Please see dates to right.

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

When should I apply?

If you are interested in SURF for Summer 2024, the student proposal deadline is Wednesday, February 21, 2024. Appointments to meet with an OURSD representative to review proposals should be made no later than February 20, 2024. Faculty mentors will have a deadline of Sunday, February 25, 2024 to submit the letter of recommendation.


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.

If you are uncertain about whether Proposal Type I or Type II is most appropriate for you, please schedule an appointment.