Dornsife is committed 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 during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year. 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, introduces students early in their academic careers to the process of serious scholarly inquiry, and fosters valuable relationships between students and faculty. Please note that we do not fund independent research projects, including those related to 490 courses or honors theses. Students interested in pursuing independent research should apply for PURF, the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fund.

For students interested in summer undergraduate research funding, please visit the SURF/SHURE page.

To explore current faculty research projects, please visit the Dornsife Compass.

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For Students

Click on the tabs below to learn more about SOAR.

    • The amount of funding is up to $1,000 per academic year towards non-course related (Maymesters excluded), faculty-directed research activities. Specific schedules may vary based on the research project, however students should expect to conduct research 8-10 hours per week for at least 10 weeks per semester. No independent projects will be funded.
    • The primary purpose of this funding is to supplement the student researcher for the expenses they incur on their SOAR research project. The student may use the funding toward the purchase of necessary equipment and/or materials, but SOAR cannot directly fund the purchase of equipment or compensate third parties.
    • The funding is credited to the student’s university account. This may affect student financial aid packages.  It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Financial Aid Office (askUSC) to discuss the potential effects of the SOAR award.
    • If you haven’t already done so, it is highly recommended that domestic students sign up for direct deposit.
    • 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obligations with a professor’s project and a final approval is denied by the student’s faculty mentor, the funds may be withdrawn and charged to the student’s university account.

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

  • Spring Maymester Courses

    • ARCG 305L: Virtual and Digital Culture, Heritage and Archaeology
    • BISC 431L:   Aquatic Microbiology
    • BISC 457L:   Methods in Marine Biology and Biographical Oceanography
    • BISC 499L:  Advanced Techniques in Field Mammalogy
    • BISC 499:     Coastal Biodiversity, Sustainability and Conservation
    • EASC 360:    Global Consumer Culture and China
    • EASC 360:    Japanese Society and Design Thinking
    • EASC 360:    Kyoto:  Heritage, Culture and Identity in Japan’s Ancient Capital
    • ENST 483L:  Coastal Zone Sustainability
    • ENST 486:     Social Science Research Methods for Environmental Analysis
    • ENST 499:    Waves of Change: Unearthing Coastal Environmental Histories
    • FREN 309:    Voices of Change:  Writers, Filmmakers and Artists of Contemporary Senegal
    • GEOL 465:    Field Geology:  A Tectonic Transect Across the US Cordillera
    • GEOL 465L:  Field Geology: Tectonics of the Aegean
    • IR 322:           Financing Development in Mexico
    • SSCI 350:      International Geodesign

    The lists will be updated as courses are approved.

    Visit Faculty Led Programs for additional program information.

    • Declared major in Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
    • Full-time enrollment at USC for the entire academic year (i.e., registered for 12 units). For example: seniors with fall 2023 / spring 2024 enrollment are eligible to apply. Seniors with only fall 2023 enrollment are not eligible for fall.
    • Graduate students or students with 144 units or more are not eligible to apply.
    • Must not have already received the maximum SOAR funding during the academic year for which you are applying. Up to $1,000 can be awarded per student, per academic year.
    • A recipient of the ExL award, Provost Fellowship (PURF) will not be contemporaneously considered for SOAR.
    • 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
  • Fall 2023 – Application Period Closed

    Spring 2024 – December 1st, 2023 to January 15th, 2024

    • Access the SOAR application here during the application period.
    • In addition to general and SOAR related questions, you will be asked to upload a one-page research proposal – it should detail what your faculty mentor’s project is researching, in a general sense, as well as what exactly you will be contributing to the project.  Please include whether or not you have applied for other grants or fellowships.
    • SOAR Faculty Letter of Recommendation: The application will generate an email to your faculty mentor so they can upload your recommendation letter directly into your application. LORs are not required for Maymesters, a copy of the class syllabus will be accepted in lieu of the LOR.
  • SOAR recipients are required to submit a one-page research report with faculty mentor’s signature. The research report is a one page summary of your research findings and overall experience. Failure to do so renders the student ineligible for SOAR or SURF/SHURE funding for the following year and the funding will be rescinded. Students must also be willing to share research findings with Dornsife Advancement and/or Communications. 

    The report, signed by the faculty mentor of the research project, should be submitted via the instructions indicated on the award agreement.

    Report guidelines can be found here.

    SOAR Report Deadlines:

    • January 11, 2024 – Fall Report Deadline
    • April 26, 2024 – Fall/Spring and Spring Report Deadline
    • August 30, 2024 – Summer/Maymester Report Deadline

For Faculty

Due to the large pool of applicants, we limit the number of SOAR recipients to (up to) two students per faculty member, per academic year. The expectation is that students will pursue other funding sources and faculty will support their research students.

SOAR supports faculty led projects. Please do not recommend independent student projects or research that is not affiliated with USC.

If your project has been approved to involve human subjects, you will be asked to provide us with a copy of your IRB approval or extension.

It is not required to participate in the SOAR and SURF programs, however, Dornsife faculty interested in posting their research should sign up as employers on Dornsife Compass. Please add the following sentence in the position description:

If you are a Dornsife undergraduate student, you may able to apply for SOAR, SURF, or SHURE funding from USC Dornsife if you work with an eligible Dornsife faculty mentor on their research project.  Visit or for more information.


  • Hours are based on an agreement between the faculty mentor and the student. Most students spend at least 10 hours per week for at least 10 weeks for fall and spring and 20 hours per week for at least 8 weeks during the summer to actually get a meaningful experience. SOAR and SURF are flat rate awards. We do not translate the funding into an hourly wage.

  • Please visit Direct Deposit Stipend Instructions for guidance. This is highly recommended to avoid lost checks.

    Be advised that your first installment may arrive as a check mailed to your local home address. Students should always keep all addresses current in OASIS.

  • No. For a research project to be eligible for SOAR and SURF, you must have support from a Dornsife Faculty Mentor who meets one of the following criteria:

    • Tenured or Tenure-Track
    • Non-Tenure Track with a research profile
    • Professional School faculty member with a joint appointment in Dornsife
  • No. SOAR does not fund independent research projects, including those related to 490 courses or honors theses.

  • You will be required to list the project and faculty mentor on your application. A letter of recommendation from that mentor is also required.

  • If you are unable to acquire a signature on your report, please attach an email approval to your report and upload through the link that was provided in your agreement.

  • The one page report doesn’t require explicit details. No figures, data or references are required. We want to get a general idea about the research project and what you got out of the experience.

  • SOAR reports should be uploaded through the link provided in your agreement. If a thank you package is required, you will be contacted by the Dornsife Advancement Office with further instructions.

  • Please try to limit the report to no more than three pages. You are only required to briefly describe the research. These reports often go to donors who are more interested in your contribution and your overall personal experience.

  • No. Recipients of SOAR/SURF cannot be contemporaneously considered for an ExL award.

  • No. SOAR and SURF do not support independent student research.

  • There are no specific format requirements for the proposal or the one-page report.

  • No. It is your responsibility to make sure the mentor follows through with your request.

  • SOAR and SURF are only offered to Dornsife majors. If you are a Dornsife major, try clearing out your cookies or try a different browser.

  • No. All projects require IRB approved first.


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SOAR Program