Carnegie Mellon University

ISURF: International Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Student Application Deadline: Monday, January 15, 2024; 11:59 pm

The International Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (ISURF) program awards $4500 to undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for 8-10 weeks of full-time summer research in any field of study with a faculty member overseas who is currently collaborating or has previously collaborated with a Carnegie Mellon faculty member. The program aims to help students travel abroad to a place where they have not resided before, and to experience a chance to be abroad in a new country to do research.  Students are limited to one ISURF experience over the course of their undergraduate careers.  We welcome ISURF opportunities in all fields, particularly the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Eligibility requirements for the ISURF experience include:

  • Currently enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University with undergraduate sophomore or junior status
  • Must set up an appointment to meet with Richelle Bernazzoli, Paige Zalman, or Alex Johnson by the end of the fall semester to determine eligibility
  • All majors
  • Must be in current good standing at Carnegie Mellon (not on academic or disciplinary probation or suspension)
  • Must be traveling to a country where the student has never resided
  • Completion of a SURF fellowship during a prior summer term and endorsement of your SURF faculty mentor. Your SURF faculty member will locate a collaborator abroad to establish a research affiliation.
  • Baccalaureate degree in progress
  • Return to Carnegie Mellon as a full time student in the fall semester following the ISURF experience

How to apply:

  1. The SURF faculty mentor identifies an overseas research collaborator with whom they can arrange for their prior SURF student to do research.
    1. NOTE: The SURF faculty member must facilitate the connection between an appropriate and known faculty researcher abroad and the ISURF applicant
  2. The SURF faculty mentor contacts OURSD by replying to this email to indicate their interest in matching a prior SURF participant with an overseas research colleague.
  3. The prospective ISURF applicant meets with OURSD to discuss their interest in applying.
  4. After confirming eligibility with OURSD, the student completes the ISURF application according to the instructions.

Application Instructions:

  • Letter of motivation (3 pages maximum). This letter should be addressed to the ISURF review committee and outline where you would like to go; the general scope of the project; your skill set and how it fits with what the team abroad is doing; and why you are seeking this ISURF experience.
  • Resume or CV
  • Transcript (official or unofficial)
  • A proposal is NOT needed.  The letter of motivation should be submitted in lieu of a proposal.

Please note that because only students who have been directly recommended by their SURF faculty mentors are eligible, a letter of recommendation is not required for the ISURF application.

We strongly advise students to apply for additional funding, above the ISURF stipend, to help pay for travel and living costs.  These include:
Tartan's Abroad
CIT Travel Grant (open only to CIT students)


Requirements for recipients:

  • Attend a required Pre-Departure Orientation Session through the Office of International Education and complete all pre-departure paperwork prior to their experience abroad
  • Schedule a meeting with Richelle BernazzoliPaige Zalman, or Alex Johnson prior to departure
  • Write a thank you note to your funder
  • Complete all assessments connected to your ISURF
  • Present your work at the Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Research Symposium
  • Follow human subjects guidelines