Research Funding & Programs

We help fund students undertaking research projects over the summer, and we can help you find summer programs and funding opportunities both inside and outside of WashU.

To promote outstanding undergraduate research, the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) offers financial support in the form of Summer Undergraduate Research Awards (SURA) for non-life science fields and Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (BioSURF) for projects related to the life sciences (e.g. biology, biomedicine, biomedical engineering, biochemistry). To be considered for an award, students must seek nomination from a faculty research mentor.

Funding awards are not typically given to students doing research during the academic year, when they may receive academic credit for their work. Academic year awards may include funding for conference-related travel or for rising seniors or seniors working towards a thesis, capstone, or culminating project in the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information on these opportunities, check out our award programs below.

General Application Timeline

If you are considering summer research, keep in mind the following general timeline for research funding and fellowship applications:

  • September – December: Find a mentor and formulate a project.

  • January – March: Apply for funding for summer research projects.

Prepare for the summer funding process by refining your research questions, starting a research proposal, and finding a faculty research mentor.

OUR Summer Research Programs Info Session

Learn more about our BioSURF, SURA, and uSTAR summer research programs here!

OUR Programs

Summer Undergraduate Research Award

OUR, in partnership with academic departments at WashU, offers Summer Undergraduate Research Awards (SURA) to financially support WashU undergraduates pursuing faculty-mentored research during the summer from all academic backgrounds, with the exception of the life sciences.

Learn More about SURA

Washington University BioSURF Program

The WashU Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (BioSURF) introduces WashU undergraduate students to research in the life sciences under the guidance of WashU faculty mentors. BioSURF is modeled on the grant-seeking process, and students gain a sophisticated and practical knowledge of the research enterprise as they enter the research environment and network within the community of scientists.

Learn more about BioSURF

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Award

The Office of Undergraduate Research offers the Academic Year Undergraduate Research Award (AYURA) to support student-initiated, faculty-mentored independent scholarly research or creative endeavors during term-time in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Learn more about AYURA

Conference Travel Award

Academic year awards may be given to fund conference travel and are accepted on a rolling basis. Funding is only given to cover expenses for conferences where students are presenting their research.

Learn More about Conference Travel Awards

MARC u-STAR

The MARC u-STAR (Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research) Program seeks to train undergraduate students who are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to think critically and write and speak effectively about their research in order to increase their ability to gain entry into and excel in top PhD programs nation-wide. MARC u-STAR also offers the Summer Scholars Program, which is an eight-week, minority-focused, research program for rising Washington University sophomores interested in scientific research.

Learn more about MARC U-STAR

Research for Academic Credit or Pay

The OUR does not register research for credit. Please see your academic department to determine the eligibility of your research for academic credit.

Many students earn credit for the undergraduate research they conduct at WashU during the academic year. Certain faculty in some fields of research may also have funds to pay students for work on research projects for the faculty member. We encourage you to spend a little time thinking about what dates and times you will have available to work and whether you are looking to receive academic credit, to earn a wage, or to volunteer as you pursue research experience.

Credit

Many departments award academic credit in variable amounts to students conducting research. Typically, during the academic year, research performed by students qualifies for academic credit, generally called either independent study or thesis research.  Students seeking credit for their work should contact the academic department in which their research is being conducted for more information about procedures for receiving credit in that area of study.  For example, the Department of Biology awards credit for independent research through the course Bio 200/500. The OUR does not grant credit for research.

Time requirements for credit hours vary by discipline.  It is reasonable, however, for students enrolled in an independent study or other for-credit option during the academic year to expect to spend 9-10 hours per week on research for 3 units of credit.  Other opportunities, including those for less credit hours, may require less time.

Pay

Many research positions are paid. While some research groups will post research opportunities for students with specific skills, other faculty may have funds to pay students even if they are not specifically looking to hire.  If you need to receive a wage for your research during the academic year, consider discussing possibilities with you research mentor.  Many laboratories funded by external grants are able to pay student researchers during the academic year, as well as in the summer, however this is not always the case and financial support is always at the discretion of faculty.

For work-study eligible students, research can be a great opportunity to use your work-study funding while enhancing your academics. With this funding, the federal government will pay more than half of your wages and this funding can be applied to a research position. If you have work-study funding as part of your financial aid package, be sure to highlight this when speaking with a research mentor. Student Financial Services and your faculty mentor’s departmental administrator should be able to provide details on how to set this up logistically.

Resources

Need help? You can find expert assistance preparing personal statements and research proposals for funding applications from many helpful resources here at WashU.