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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 research in conjunction with Dornsife faculty members, either on or off campus, during the summer semester. Any student in good standing, with at least one USC Dornsife major, may apply for a research stipend of up to $3,000 to provide support for working with a member of the faculty on the faculty member’s research.  The 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.

** IMPORTANT: Please note that we do not fund independent research projects, such as those related to 490 courses or honors theses.

 Students interested in conducting research under the guidance of a professor during the academic year (fall and spring) should take advantage of SOAR, our other research fund. Students interested in pursuing independent research over the summer, for their honors thesis or otherwise, should apply for PURF, the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund, instead.


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


Examples of Eligible Projects:

  • Assisting a Dornsife faculty member with summer research on or off campus, e.g. working in a professor’s lab
  • Team research projects as part of a Dornsife faculty member or members' research, e.g. the Near Crisis Project
  •  Dornsife College's Problems Without Passports (PWP) program, to help fund tuition and costs


Again, please be reminded that the purpose of SURF funding is to encourage faculty-student collaboration, thus, we only fund students who are working directly on a faculty member's project.  If you are seeking funding for an independent research project, please direct your attention to the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fellowships, the application for which is available here.



  • 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 amount of time spent on research. Funding for research projects will be based exclusively on the number of hours that the student proposes to work on the project.

  • The primary purpose of the stipend, though based on time worked, is to cover expenses directly related to the research project or PWP program. This commonly includes research materials, equipment and equipment rental, travel, and personal expenses directly related to the research 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 9th, 2016). Failure to do so renders the student ineligible for SURF or SOAR funding for the following year, and their SURF award 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, and if you will be receiving funding from a scholarship (e.g. Trustee, Presidential, or Mork).

  • STARS Report

  • Faculty mentor letter of recommendation

  • Faculty mentor's signature

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


 Below is the link to the pdf of the application for SURF 2016. Please note that this is a paper application. It must be printed, completed, and delivered to ADM 304 by no later than 12 PM on April 1st, 2016.