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Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR)

Dornsife's commitment to supporting undergraduate research with USC faculty

The SOAR program provides funding to Dornsife undergraduates for participation as a research assistant in a faculty member’s project. The purpose of SOAR is to connect students with faculty members and their research; it allows all students to be mentored one-on-one by USC faculty, and introduces students early in their academic careers to the process of serious scholarly inquiry. Please note that we do not fund independent research projects, including those related to 490 courses or honors theses.

 SOAR is for research during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year. Funding applications are accepted for the first five weeks of fall (deadline September 23, 2015) and the first four weeks of spring semester (deadline February 3, 2016).

For students interested in summer undergraduate research funding, please visit the SURF page. Students interested in pursuing independent research should apply for PURF, the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund, instead.


To find out about faculty research projects or to create a profile detailing your own research interests, please visit the SOAR Board.


Eligibility Requirements:

  • Declared major in Dornsife College 

  • Full-time enrollment at USC for the entire academic year 

  • Must not have already received a SOAR grant during the academic year for which you are applying. Only one SOAR grant can be awarded per academic year, regardless of whether it will be used for one semester or spanning both fall and spring.

  • A recipient of the Provost Fellowship will not be contemporaneously considered for a SOAR grant and vice versa.

  • 3.0 cumulative USC GPA or better

  • Each student must have a Dornsife Faculty mentor who meets one of the following criteria:
  1. Tenured or Tenure-Track
  2. Non-Tenure Track with a research profile
  3. Professional School faculty member with a joint appointment in Dornsife College


Funding Guidelines:

  • The amount of the stipend is up to $1000 per academic year towards non-course related, faculty-directed research activities. No independent projects will be funded.
  • The primary purpose of the stipend is to compensate the student researcher for the time they spend on their SOAR research project. The student may then use their grant earnings toward purchase of necessary equipment and/or materials. SOAR grants cannot directly fund the purchase of equipment or compensate third parties.
  • A detailed budget accounting (of hours the student will work, at a standard rate of $10/hr.) for all SOAR funding must be submitted with the application.
  • The stipend is a single payment credited to the student’s university account. This may initially affect the student’s financial aid award. If this happens, the student must contact the financial aid office to work out the payment of the SOAR award.

  • If the student fails to complete the project successfully or fails to meet research obligations with a professor's project, and a final approval is denied by the student’s faculty mentor, the funds will be withdrawn and $1,000 will be charged to the student’s university account.


SOAR recipients in Fall 2015 are required to submit a one-page research report signed by 12:00 pm on Thursday, December 3, 2015. Failure to do so renders the student ineligible for SURF or SOAR funding for the following year, and the SOAR grant received will be rescinded.


Application Checklist:

  •  Application form
  •  One-page research proposal – should detail what your faculty member’s project is researching, in a general sense, as well as what exactly you will be contributing to the project
  •  Budget – should outline any costs associated with the research project, as well as the number of hours worked @ $10/hour. Please also include whether or not you have applied for other grants or fellowships, especially the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
  •  STARS Report
  •  Faculty mentor letter of recommendation
  •  Faculty mentor's signature




Applications submitted past 12 PM on the day of the deadline (stated above) of the semester of the proposed research will not be considered.


For questions, please call the Dornsife Dean's Office at (213) 821-7873 or email