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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

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IF YOU’VE BEEN AWARDED A SURF: Rules for Completion

“If your heart is in research this is a program you absolutely should do before you graduate. A SURF gives you the sense of self-worth, confidence, value, power, and creativity that every young researcher needs. Having a project that is entirely your own and scares you half to death is the best thing you could do for yourself and your career.” – Violet Beaty, SURF recipient


The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is one of many programs administered through the OUR, and it is designed to enhance the educational experience of undergraduates by engaging them in research opportunities. We expect to make about 60 individual awards each summer.

SURF recipients are expected to engage in undergraduate research, scholarship, or performance for at least 9 weeks, with a minimum of 20 hours/week during the summer, although some projects may require more than the minimum of 20 hours/week depending on their scope.

SURF projects must be carried out under the supervision of a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty research advisor. Additional collaboration with a postdoctoral fellow or graduate student mentor is encouraged when relevant to the research project. The typical SURF award is $4,000. Students in certain program areas are eligible to receive additional funding. Please note that the $4,000 is a stipend to help students with living expenses and/or for any needed travel or supplies if applicable. You are not required to submit a budget for your SURF.

The SURF application will open November 15, 2023. The deadline for receipt of all SURF application materials, including letters of recommendation, is February 1, 2024, by 11:59pm EDT.

The SURF program is made possible by funding from many campus units and private donors.

You can view 2019-2023 SURF projects in the Carolina Digital Repository collection.

Two SURF Information Sessions are available in fall 2023, and one is available in spring 2024:



All UNC undergraduates are only eligible to receive one SURF or Honors SURF during their undergraduate career. Honors students who have already received a SURF award of any type should consider other fellowships available to them.

UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates are eligible to apply to SURF if they are:

  • In good academic standing
  • Enrolled full-time the Spring semester when they apply (this can be study abroad as well)
  • Enrolled for the Fall semester following the fellowship (this can be a study abroad)
  • Have not previously received a SURF

Students in all departments and all majors, including students who have not declared a major, are encouraged to apply. Non-UNC students are NOT eligible to apply. 

Each student may submit only one SURF application per year.

Students are encouraged to apply for both the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the Summer Award for Research Courses, but must accept only one of these awards for the same summer.

Morehead-Cain Scholars and Robertson Scholars are typically not eligible to apply for the SURF, as they already receive support for research experiences during the summer and are expected to fully engage in required summer components of their programs. Students who receive funding to participate in other summer experiences (e.g., Burch, SEAS, Chancellor’s Science Scholars, Class of 1938 Fellowship, NASA) or any university-associated fellowship/internship for the summer may not accept SURF funding for the same summer.

International Travel and SURF

Any student who wishes to do research abroad must receive approval from the University. To complete the approval process, you will need to research safety and risk information for the location you are going to. Generally you can find nearly everything necessary by visiting the U.S. Department of State Country Information Page and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travel must be to State Department Level 1 or Level 2 destinations; it will most likely not be funded for travel to countries designated as Level 3 or Level 4.

Honors Carolina Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Honors Carolina students are eligible for the William W. and Ida W. Taylor Fellowship to fund their summer research as part of the SURF program. Taylor Fellowships provide $4,000 to support an approved SURF project.

Students wishing to be considered for the Taylor Fellowship should follow the normal SURF application process.

A multidisciplinary faculty committee will review all SURF submissions, including those submitted by Honors Carolina students, as described on the application page. Once the SURF selection committee has chosen which projects to fund, a sub-committee of the Honors Carolina Faculty Advisory Board will select the Taylor Fellowship recipients from the group of successful SURF applicants. Students will be notified by April 15.

Honors Carolina expects to make at least 8 Taylor Fellowship awards. Students who receive the Taylor Fellowship must follow the standard rules for completing their SURFs, including submission of suitable fellowship completion documents.

Special Topics for SURF Awards

Special funding is available for some SURFs, as outlined below. In some cases, this is money set aside solely for projects in these fields. In other cases, projects in these areas may be eligible to receive additional funding.

You do not need to be within related majors to be considered for funding from these special areas, and all project proposals in these areas will be considered for the funding. No additional materials or application procedures are required.

  • The Carolina Blue Honors Fellowship supports SURF projects up to $5,000 related to sports-related faculty-mentored research projects in locations beyond the United States. The Carolina Blue Honors Fellowship was established in 2015 with a gift from UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Ricky May. These awards may be awarded at the start of the summer to help cover travel and accommodation costs.
  • The Southwind Southern Futures Fellowship supports SURF projects focusing on faculty-mentored research to work for justice, equity, and the prosperity of communities in the American South. These awards may be distributed at the start of the summer to help cover travel and accommodation costs. Recipients will be asked to present their findings at the end of their experience.
  • The Program in Sexuality Studies expects to make at least two Pine Tree Fund SURF awards for work in LGBTQ studies. Students are required to submit final materials for OUR approval and follow all other SURF processes.
  • The James Boyd Gadson Fund provides funding for students whose SURF projects engage with studio art. This funding can support living and travel expenses associated with an approved project as well as necessary art supplies.
  • Students whose projects are related to women in the American South will be considered for the Frances Ferris Hall Fellowship (FFHF). The FFHF funding will be included in the standard SURF funding.
  • The Bringing Southeast Asia Home initiative from the Carolina Asia Center supports a SURF award of $4,000 for projects focused on Southeast Asia or Southeast Asian diaspora communities. Southeast Asian countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.
  • There is also special funding available for projects via the Herbert and Amelia Brown Undergraduate Research in Botany Scholarship.



If you have any questions about the SURF program please contact Dr. Robert Pleasants.