Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

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The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is one of many programs administered through OUR and designed to enhance the educational experience of undergraduates by engaging them in research opportunities.

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 (May-August), although depending on scope, some projects may require more than the minimum of 20 hours/week. 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. The typical SURF award is $3,000. Selected students will receive $2,000 at the start of the summer, and the remainder of the award ($1,000) after they have submitted the required final materials and the materials are approved by OUR. Students in the C-SURF Program or in certain program areas receive additional funding.

Want to apply for a SURF but missed the workshops? Don’t worry! The workshop was not required. You can also make an appointment to talk to the Writing Center about your proposal. The handouts from the workshop are linked here:

The deadline for receipt of all SURF application materials, including letters of recommendation, is Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm.

The SURF program is made possible by funding from many campus units and private donors. Please visit the SURF contributors link on this website to read more about the many contributors to this program.


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

  • In good academic standing
  • Enrolled full-time the Spring semester when they apply
  • Enrolled for the Fall semester following the fellowship
  • 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.

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-Intensive Courses, but must accept only one of these awards for the same summer.

Morehead-Cain Scholars, Robertson Scholars and McNair Scholars are 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) may not accept SURF funding for the same summer.

In coordination with Excel@Carolina, the Carolina Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (C-SURFs) program provides a small group of incoming first-year students with the opportunity to receive additional funding if they successfully compete for a SURF. All C-SURF students must submit a complete SURF application, which will be reviewed as part of the standard SURF selection process. For more about the C-SURF program, see Frequently Asked Questions about the C-SURF.

Students wishing to submit a proposal for an Honors Carolina SURF must follow the standard instructions for applying for a SURF. You can find more information about Honors Carolina SURF funding here

Anticipated Number of Awards:

We expect to make at least 60 individual awards.

Additional funding for special topics is available in the following fields:

  • Women in the American South
  • LGBTQ studies
  • Botany
  • Art

You can find more information on these special topics here.

Past Recipients

You can see projects completed by past SURF recipients, including pdfs of the results of their research, in the database of summer research projects.