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Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF)

USC Dornsife's worldwide summer research opportunity.

SURF is an opportunity for USC Dornsife students to pursue undergraduate research, in collaboration with Dornsife faculty, either on or off campus during the summer semester. Students are encouraged to conduct on-site research either at USC or under the direction of USC Dornsife faculty at many institutions across the nation and around the globe. Any student in good standing, with at least one USC Dornsife major, may apply for a research stipend of up to $3,000 to support summer work on a faculty-based research project of their choosing.  This stipend may be used to pay for travel, equipment, living expenses, fees, or other costs related to the research effort.  Students participating in one of USC Dornsife's Problems Without Passports (PWP) research courses may use these funds to offset tuition.

Students interested in conducting research during the academic year (fall and spring) should take advantage of SOAR, our other research fund.

To find out about research projects or post your own, view the SURF Board.


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Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF)

Dornsife students talk about how they used their SURF funds to conduct their various research projects. Video by: Mira Zimet

Video by Mira Zimet


Examples of Eligible Projects:

  • Assisting a Dornsife faculty member with summer research, on or off campus

  • Team research projects in collaboration with a Dornsife Faculty member or members

  • Research projects as part of a departmental honors program

  • Dornsife College's Problems Without Passports (PWP) program, to help fund tuition and costs

Please be reminded that the purpose of SURF funding is to encourage faculty-student collaboration.



  • 3.0 cumulative USC GPA or better
  • Full-time enrollment at USC for the entire academic year.
  • Declared major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
  • Each student must have a USC Dornsife College 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 USC Dornsife

               For PWP applicants, your faculty mentor is the course professor.


Funding Guidelines:

  • The amount of the stipend is up to $3000 but depends on the costs associated with the project. 

  • The primary purpose of the stipend is to cover expenses directly related to a research project, or tuition for a PWP program. This commonly includes research materials, equipment and equipment rental, travel, and personal expenses directly related to the research project. Funding for research projects will be based on the number of hours that the student proposes to work on the project.

  • The funds may be used exclusively as time compensation only if all other research expenses are already covered by another source.

 All funds will be disbursed in accordance with customary policies and procedures of the university.


 SURF recipients are required to submit a one-page research report, signed by their faculty mentor, before the add/drop deadline of the following fall semester (September 2015). Failure to do so renders the student ineligible for SURF or SOAR funding for the following year.



Application Checklist:

  • Application form

  • One-page research proposal

  • Budget - outlining the research hours @ $10/hour

  • STARS Report

  • Faculty mentor letter of recommendation

  • Faculty mentor's signature

  • For applicants wishing to conduct research with human subjects, proof of IRB Approval or Exemption. More info:


Below is the link to the pdf of the application for SURF 2015. Please note that this is a paper application. It must be printed, completed, and delivered to ADM 304 no later than April 10th!



If you are conducting research that involves human subjects, you will need to get approval or exemption from USC's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and attach that approval to your application.



Please allow 30 days after date of submission for review.