Undergraduate Research Opportunities
There are numerous institutions across the U.S. (as well as internationally) that
offer summer research programs for science undergraduate students.
This page contains some helpful suggestions for a quality application as well as links
to institutions that have offered summer research opportunities in the past.
Tips for Submitting a Quality Application
Summer undergraduate research programs are competitive in nature and the following
suggestions can help you in preparing your application. Please be advised that these
suggestions are in no way a guarantee of acceptance into any program.
- Know the deadlines and application timeframes.
Most institutions begin accepting applications in the late Fall or early Spring semesters
for the following Summer programs. (Ex. Apply in September 2011 for Summer 2012 programs.)
Therefore it behooves you to know when the application opens and closes! You must
have all your application materials turned in prior to the deadline. Also, some institutions
look favorably on applicants who turn in their applications early.
- Give yourself plenty of time to complete the application.
Responses to open-ended questions should have thoughtful, detailed responses that
show you are interested in gaining research experience in the area you are applying
for and are familiar with the faculty and their research at the institution of which
you are applying.
Every institution has their own application requirements(resume, CV, personal statement,
statement of purpose, transcripts, etc) and it is your job to figure out what they
want. To be competitive you should follow the application directions completely.
Below are some example questions that can be asked on an application:
- For what are you applying and why?
- What are your educational and/or career goals?
- Why are you applying to the this program?
- What qualifications do you bring?
- How are you prepared to make a contribution to the prospective lab and/or your own
professional development? If you donâ€™t have prior lab experience, have you held
a position of responsibility or previously worked in a team setting that would lend
itself well to this program?
- How will this opportunity further your educational/career goals?
- To write a personal statement or a statement of purpose, that is the question.
The answer to this is found in the directions for each program application - read
A personal statement is just that - personal. It is about you, your goals, achievements,
etc. It is the opportunity to talk about what inspired you or motivated you to pursue
a science education.
On the other hand, a statement of purpose is about your scientific, research-oriented
goals, aspirations, achievements, experiences, etc. It is not personal!
The main point here is write whatever they ask you to write - nothing more, nothing
- Check, recheck, triple-check and then check
Review your statement(s) and application question(s) response(s) thoroughly. It would
be beneficial to have multiple people proofread and critique them as well. It is vital
that you proofread your application thoroughly for accuracy and completeness before
submitting. This is your first impression so make it a good one!
- Request letter(s) of recommendation.
An informative letter will highlight the courses you have taken, your quality as a
student compared to other students, accomplishments achieved, and how this program
will further your educational/career goals. When requesting a letter of recommendation,
the applicant should:
- Choose your reference(s) wisely a letter(s) of recommendation from an individual(s)
in a department or field similar to the program for which you are applying is viewed
more favorably than a recommendation letter(s) from a former employer or teacher in
a non-related field.
- Give your reference(s) at least two weeks to submit a letter of recommendation on
- Submit your letter of recommendation request in writing. Giving your references a
copy of your resume and/or the following information: a) the name of the program to
which you are applying and a brief description of what the program entails; b) the
name of the sponsoring institution; c) a brief description of how the program fits
in with your career goals; d) a brief description of what you will contribute to the
program and how you will benefit from participating; and e) most importantly clearly
convey when the letter is due, to whom the letter should be addressed, and the options
for submitting the letter, i.e. via email, fax, or mailing address.
- Send your reference a friendly reminder preferably one week prior to the application
- Send your reference(s) a handwritten note of Thanks for their time and effort!
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