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Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS) - Summer

Find information about UC San Diego's undergraduate research scholarship (URS) program. Several different scholarships are available across multiple research areas.



If you have applied for the Summer Research Program, please know we are continuing to prepare for it as always. We are reviewing applications, planning associated events (including the Summer Research Conference) and working with our partners to make sure projects can be completed remotely if necessary and that housing or a housing allowance (if applicable) will be provided to all participants as well as a stipend.

While the Summer Research Program will be virtual this year and we are committed to bringing a solid experience to all students involved. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions about the program in general or your specific SRP program.

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Project requirements

The research project must be work above and beyond the normal course of study. Students should have a project where their role is defined and that they can take ownership of, even if it is part of a larger project. The subject matter does not have to be related to the student's major, minor, or other coursework, although preference may be given to those that do have a major related to specific scholarship goals, depending on the scholarship(s) the student is applying to.

If awarded:

  • Students must not be in the process of completing a 5-year BS/MS or BA/MA degree.
  • Students must not be graduated by Summer 2020. 
  • Students may not take classes (either session 1 or session 2) during the scholarship period (June 22-August 28, 2020).
  • Students may not hold an outside job during the scholarship period and may be asked to sign a form indicating they have ended all employment for the summer. 
  • Students may not be concurrently paid through their research group for work done during the summer.


All current UC San Diego undergraduates in any major who will be enrolled the following school year are eligible to apply.

Students who plan on graduating mid-year may also apply, provided the project and final report are completed before graduation.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or eligible under AB540 "California Dream Act".

The project must be completed while the applicant is a UC San Diego undergraduate. Students will not be eligible if they will have graduated before summer. Students also cannot be part of a BS/MS or BA/MA program during the award period. 

Applicants submit one research proposal per scholarship. The same proposal may be used for multiple research scholarship applications, as indicated on the application form. If chosen for more than one scholarship, a student may only accept one scholarship during the summer research period.

Applicants may re-apply for the scholarship, even if they've been awarded a scholarship in previous years. There is no guarantee to receive the scholarship, even if you've been awarded in the past -- all applicants are considered against the applicant pool of that year only. 

Please note that if awarded, students will not be allowed to take courses or get paid through a job during the duration of the scholarship. Donors would like all awardees to be able to focus on the research full-time. 

For more information about Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS), contact Sophia Tsai, stsai@ucsd.edu or (858) 534-9014.

Available scholarships

NEW: HIV Institute - Transgender/Gender Non-Binary Community Health Research Scholarship

Gives consideration to health research related to the Transgender and Gender Non-Binary community. Preference may be given to members of the Trans/Gender Non-Binary community, but consideration is given to anyone passionate about conducting research in this area.

  • Area of study: Any health-related topic within the Trans/Gender Non-Binary community, particularly (though not limited to): access to medical care, community education, sexual health, and topics in HIV (epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, treatment, prevention, education).

Chancellor's Research Scholarship for Arts and Humanities

Gives consideration to proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in the general areas of Arts and Humanities.

  • Area of study: arts and humanities.

Chancellor's Research Scholarship for Social Sciences

Gives consideration to proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in the general areas of Social Science.

  • Area of study: social sciences.

David Marc Belkin Memorial Research Scholarship for Environment and Ecology

Gives consideration to those proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in the general areas of environmental and ecological issues.

  • Area of study: environmental and ecological

David Jay Gambee Memorial Research Scholarship for Governance and Social Impact projects

Gives consideration to those proposals which involve the student as an active citizen in university governance, the local community, or national and international affairs. Also receiving preference are projects which lead to a heightened awareness of the relationship between the environment and society. Service in the community through volunteer activities or participation in programs related to the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation are encouraged.

  • Area of study: as an active citizen in university governance, local community, or national and international affairs

Doris A. Howell Foundation Research Scholarship for Women's Health

Gives consideration research proposals designed to improve women’s health. Preference is given to applications that study disease prevention in, for example, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Proposals may describe an approach to examine biological, medical, cultural, economic, behavioral, psychosocial, or cross-cultural influences.

  • Area of study: women's health

Eureka! Scholarship for Biological Sciences majors

Promotes engagement in basic and translational biology by facilitating students' participation in research opportunities both at the UC San Diego campus and at research facilities on the San Diego Mesa (located north of UC San Diego). Successful proposals will show evidence that the scholarship will provide the students with an opportunity to have a significant research experience.

  • Area of study: basic and translational biology; student must have a declared major in the Division of Biological Sciences


Springboard Eureka! Scholarship for Biological Science majors (Kyoto University)

Promotes engagement in basic and translational biology by facilitating students' participation in research opportunities in Japan at Kyoto University. Students will be matched with a lab to do clinical and basic research for 8 weeks (late June-mid August). A research paper and an oral presentation at the UC San Diego Summer Research Conference (August) will also be required at the end of the program. Students will receive a $5,000 stipend for the summer to cover all expenses, including airfare, room, and board. Room and board will be at the University of Kyoto while in Japan. All activities will be in English, no additional language requirement needed.

  • Area of study: basic and translational biology especially focused in the areas of medicine, biological research, and/or bioinformatics; student must have a declared major in the Division of Biological Sciences
  • Class standing: must be junior or senior standing (90+ units).
  • Career interest: must be interested in pursuing an M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. or Ph.D. and an interest in the areas of medicine, biological research, and/or bioinformatics.

Julia Brown Research Scholarship for Health and Medical Professions

Gives consideration to students whose career objectives are in health care, medicine, medical research, pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, or public health. Preference may be given to students with extenuating circumstances or financial need, although this is not a requirement for consideration. 

  • Career Interest: health care, medicine, medical research, pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, or public health career objectives

Ledell Family Research Scholarship for Science and Engineering

Gives consideration to proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in physical science, biological science, or engineering.

  • Area of study: physical science, biological science, or engineering

NEW Scholars Program for Undocumented Students

Eligibility: AB540/California Dream Act-eligible students ONLY. 

The NEW Scholars Program is an intense summer research opportunity for undocumented undergraduate students that are eligible for AB540/California Dream Act Financial Aid. Students in this program participate in 10-12 weeks of full-time faculty-mentored research. Preference may be given to students who have not received the NEW Scholars Research Scholarship in the past.

  • Area of study: ALL fields

Philip and Elizabeth Hiestand Scholarship for cross-disciplinary research in SIO and Engineering

Gives consideration to students in Engineering working on SIO projects, or student at SIO working on Engineering projects.

  • Area of study: Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) or Engineering (projects must be cross-disciplinary and not in the student's major)

Research Scholarship for Physics

Gives consideration to those proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in physics. Preference is given to students with a physics major. 

  • Area of study: physics
  • Named scholarships:
    • Robert C. Dynes and Ann Parode Dynes
    • Frances Hellman

Starbucks Sustainable Solutions and Learning Opportunities Research Scholarship

Gives consideration to those proposals designed to pursue special studies and projects in sustainable food production and distribution, resource conservation, or agricultural environmental practices

  • Area of study:  sustainable food production and distribution, resource conservation, or agricultural environmental practices

Please apply for any of the above scholarships at: http://ucsd-research.academicworks.com

Award terms and amounts

The research project should be completed during summer. Receipt of an award does not disqualify students from applying in future application cycles, so long as they maintain eligibility (see above). 

The amount of the research scholarship was established to recognize and encourage undergraduate research, and can cover project costs, and/or any education-related expenses, including summer living costs. All research scholarships are summer awards of $5,000.

Awards will be paid by early June and will not replace academic-year financial aid. This award is considered a budget add-on to cover project-related costs.

A final report and faculty appraisal must be submitted at the conclusion of the project (see below for details).

Research proposal and personal statement

Each scholarship application (opportunity) will require a research proposal to be submitted. We suggest you work with your research mentor on this research proposal -- it is NOT required to come up with a brand new idea on your own. Your project can also be a continuation of a project that has already begun. You can submit the same proposal to multiple scholarships since each scholarship is reviewed by a different committee. Please follow the following guidelines:


Overview / Abstract of Project (250 word limit) 

Detailed description of the project: (1000 word max)

  • Research question
    • the goal of the work
    • the potential significance of the project
  • Preliminary work accomplished and/or relevant experience
  • Methods or theoretical/critical frameworks you will use, with appropriate citations
  • Timeline of the work you expect to accomplish over three months (Summer 2019)
  • A statement noting if Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is needed or not. This is required for studies involving human subjects. Check with your professor if you are unsure. More information about IRB is here.
  • List of references cited (not included in the 1000 word maximum)

Personal statement: describing how carrying out this summer research project would advance your academic and professional goals (600 word max)

Points to include

  • academic and personal achievements
  • talents, experiences, interests (related to your field of interest/research)
  • academic and professional goals – the kinds of contributions you would like to make and how this research will advance your academic and professional goals
  • (if applicable) Role models, influences (related to your field of interest/research)
  • (if applicable) Special circumstances you feel the committee should consider as part of your application. This could include personal or academic challenges you may have overcome to get you where you are today.

Letter of recommendation/support

Letter of recommendation/support: should be from the faculty member/principal investigator (PI) you plan to work with for the summer URS project. Graduate students, postdocs, lab managers, or other members of the research group can co-write this letter, but the letter itself should be submitted by the faculty member. Only 1 letter is needed for this application. Faculty can write this letter, even if you've only just started a research project by focusing on the second and third points below: discussing your qualifications and potential to make contributions to the field.

What we're looking for in the letter of recommendation/support:

  • Potential significance of this project
  • Review of the student's qualifications to carry out the project
  • Advisor's assessment of the student's potential to make contributions to the field
  • Comparison to other students faculty has mentored
  • A statement noting if Internal Review Board (IRB) approval is needed or not (i.e. working with human subjects)

The letter of recommendation is due at the same time as the URS application (usually early February).


How to request a letter of recommendation:

In order to submit the name of your faculty member, you must first complete the General Application. Once you see the list of Recommended Opportunities, select the name of the opportunity you would like to apply for (e.g. Summer URS Ledell Family Research Scholarship for Science and Engineering). The first question you'll see is URS - Faculty Sponsor and Contact Information. Once you answer the question with your faculty's name, email address, and department, and you click on "save and keep editing", an email will be sent to the reference inviting them to complete a reference questionnaire.

If you wish to use the same letter for all URS opportunities, you can select the name of that faculty from a drop-down list in any subsequent opportunity that you click on. 

Recipient selection

The scholarship selection committee may include: the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships and Honors, department faculty, program affiliates, or judges selected by sponsoring donors. The scholarship selection committee is chosen based on criteria set forth by sponsoring donors associated with each individual scholarship. This committee selects the winners, who will be notified by e-mail or on the application portal in late April/early May.


  • Students not awarded will be notified via the application portal. The application status will say "not offered".
  • Students will not receive more than one research award.
  • Students cannot be part of a BS/MS program during the award period.
  • Students cannot take a class or hold a job during the award period.
  • If the student's project changes significantly between the application and the award period, the review committee reserves the right to request and review an updated proposal. 

Final report

Upon completion of the project, the recipient of a research scholarship must submit a summary report, a minimum of 5 pages, via online submission. Directions for this will be emailed to the student in August. If there are any problems with submission, please e-mail Sophia Tsai (stsai@ucsd.edu) with any questions you may have. Please note these reports may be shared with your donor(s). 

The final report is due at the end of the program (the last Friday in August) and must include:

  • 5 page (minimum), single-spaced report on the research done this summer (late June through late August)
    • Your name, PID, the name of the scholarship donor (e.g. Chancellor's Research, Eureka!, Ledell Family) in the header section of Word
    • Title of the project
    • Summary of your research over the summer including any results, and how things may have changed since the last proposal submitted. This should be similar to a peer-reviewed research paper written in your field. Check with your mentor if you're unsure of how this should look.
    • An appendix that includes:
      • A brief statement of the purpose of the project, the benefits to the project and/or the benefits of your participation in the project. 
      • A short summary statement of how the funds were used (exact amounts and receipts are NOT required)
      • A statement that indicates the approximate hours spent doing research per week (average). 
    • Figures and graphs may be included in the 5-page minimum.
    • Citations are not included as part of the 5-page minimum.
    • Font: minimum 10 point font. Can be Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or a similar sized font.
  • Will be submitted via Dropbox (link to be sent in an email to the student)
  • Must be read and approved by the student's faculty advisor/PI and lab mentor (if applicable) before final submission -- due on the last Friday in August.


Failure to submit a final report will result in billing the recipient for all funds received. Failure to repay the scholarship will result in future registration and transcript holds.

Faculty appraisal

Upon completion of the project, the faculty sponsor of the student receiving the research scholarship must submit a faculty appraisal via online submission, which will be sent to the student to forward to their faculty member. If there are any problems, send an e-mail to Sophia Tsai (stsai@ucsd.edu). Please note the faculty appraisal may be shared with the student's donor(s).

The faculty appraisal is due on the first Friday in September and must be included on department letterhead or the template emailed to scholarship recipients:

  • The student's name, ID#, and the name of scholarship (to be completed by the student before giving to the research faculty mentor). 
  • A brief statement confirming the project was completed as proposed.
  • A brief statement confirming the faculty sponsor read and approved the final report written by the student. 
  • A few statements on any of the following:
    • value of the project
    • value to student
    • comments on the student’s performance.
  • A statement about the approximate hours the student spent doing research per week (average throughout the summer).
  • A statement confirming the funds were used appropriately (research-related expenses)
  • If the student's project has changed significantly from the proposed work, a statement regarding the circumstances surrounding that change. 
  • The faculty member's printed name and signature.

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