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Center for Undergraduate Excellence

» Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program

SURF is an exciting opportunity for Chapman University undergraduate students to pursue research and creative activity under the guidance of full-time faculty mentors during the summer. SURF is a paid, on-campus summer fellowship with a faculty member that includes monetary support and on-campus housing. Students from across all disciplines are encouraged to apply. 

Student researching with faculty


The program spans 8 weeks during the summer. Fellows are expected to perform an average of 30 hours of research or creative activity per week during the SURF program. Fellows are required to attend faculty lectures and professional seminars twice a week throughout the program, along with a few other mandatory meetings and the celebratory commencement. Awards can be rescinded if requirements are not met.

Mentors will receive a $1,000 stipend (which may be adjusted for collaborative projects individual multiple SURF fellows). Mentors are required to attend a mandatory orientation meeting, conduct one faculty seminar during SURF, and attend commencement. Before applying, a student should ensure both students and faculty mentor can attend these required events.

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+ - Program Highlights

  • Up to $4,000 in fellowship funding for each fellow.
  • Possible additional grant funding of up to $1,000 to provide support for research (apply separately for a Scholarly/Creative Grant).
  • Free on-campus housing during the length of the program.
  • Faculty mentor stipend of $1,000.
  • Professional development workshops.
  • Faculty seminars.
  • Social events and networking opportunities with other SURF fellows.

+ - SURF Program Dates

The Center for Undergraduate Excellence will start accepting applications February 2020

Application Deadline: Monday, February 24 at 4 PM

Faculty Letter of Support Deadline: Friday, February 27 at 12 PM 

Program Dates: June-August 2020

Faculty mentor will receive an email with instructions to submit the letter once the application is received.

Award notifications are expected to be announced early April.

+ - Eligibility

  • All Chapman University undergraduates in good standing are eligible to apply to SURF.
  • Applicants can be from any discipline and can work on a project outside the major. No prior research experience is required, but the applicant must have a faculty mentor.
  • Graduating seniors can apply for the SURF program held in the summer that directly follows their graduation.
  • SURF Alumni are not eligible; SURF cannot be repeated by a student.
  • Faculty mentors must be full-time Chapman University faculty. Part-time or adjunct faculty cannot serve as mentors in this program.

+ - Requirements & Selection Criteria

  • Description of Project & Benefit to the Student (3 pages maximum)
    • The description of the project and benefit to student applying should be clear, focused, and written for colleagues beyond one’s own area of interest or expertise. A student might consider why this project has merit and why you’re the right person to pursue this project, as well as the topic, goals, and methodology that will be employed. Use Times or Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins. All elements of the proposal, including any works cited, must be contained within the three-page limit. This document must not exceed three pages total. Additional pages will NOT be included in the proposal packet for evaluation purposes.
    • While the mentor should advise the student on the project, the student must be the author of the grant proposal itself. A student who submits a proposal written by a mentor or by any person other than the student applicant will be considered in violation of the university's policy on academic honesty.
  • Letter of Support provided by the Faculty Mentor
    • One letter written by the faculty mentor should speak to the nature of the proposed research or creative activity, including the roles both the fellow and the mentor will play in the collaboration. While the faculty member is encouraged to provide evidence of the applicant’s ability, the letter is not explicitly or solely a letter of recommendation for the student per se. A faculty mentor might consider giving context for the proposed project, including its potential value in the field, as well as speaking to the student’s preparation and the ways that the faculty mentor will guide or oversee the student’s work during SURF. (The letter is submitted separately by faculty mentor.)
  • Any applications received after the published deadline will not be considered.
  • Only one application is allowed per student.
  • Students participating in a group project must apply individually, with an individual letter of support and a clearly stated individual role in or contribution to the larger project. Because of funding constraints and evaluation processes, it is possible that not all of the students in a group would be awarded fellowships.
  • Additionally, the project may require IRB approval if it involves any human or animal subjects; students are responsible for working with the faculty mentor to ensure that the project has approvals necessary to begin research and for submitting verification of authorization to CUE prior to the start of SURF; awards can be rescinded if IRB approval is not submitted one week prior to the start of the SURF program. www.chapman.edu/irb.
  • Selection is based on the following criteria:
    • Coherence of the Project Description
    • Feasibility and Value of the Project
    • Academic, Intellectual, or Creative Rigor of the proposed work
    • Originality of or Innovation in the Project
    • Overall Excellence

+ - Expectations of Students Accepted

  • Fellows attend and participate in all on-campus activities, including orientation and two cohort meetings weekly (during lunchtime) throughout the 8-week period.
  • Fellows commit to work a minimum of 30 hours per week on their project. The individual SURF fellow’s research/creative activity schedule will be determined between the fellow and the faculty mentor and submitted at least one week prior to the start of the SURF program. A fellow’s activity can be performed off campus, but on-campus meetings are required.
  • The fellow and the faculty mentor meet at least once per week or more often, depending on the project and the level of faculty mentor guidance needed.
  • Fellows submit “Weekly Progress Reports” to document research/creative activity hours and summarize work conducted during those hours.
  • If the project involves any human or animal subjects and requires IRB approval, the fellow must submit approval at least one week prior to the start of the SURF program. For more information go to www.chapman.edu/irb.
  • Fellows present at the SURF Commencement at the end of the 8-week session.
  • Awards can be rescinded if all requirements are not met.

+ - Expectations of Faculty Mentors

  • Mentors attend the mandatory orientation meeting.
  • Each mentor conducts one faculty seminar during the SURF program.
  • Each mentor records the fellow’s weekly hours in Blackboard on a regular basis.
  • All mentors attend SURF Commencement.
  • Awards can be rescinded if all requirements are not met.
  • The fellow and the faculty mentor meet at least once per week or more often (in person or via video chat), depending on the project, the level of faculty mentor guidance needed, and the need to keep current on the student’s progress.

+ - Funding Package

  • SURF fellows are awarded a $4,000 fellowship, paid over the span of the program.
  • Free on-campus apartment housing is available during the program; fellows share assigned apartments. Fellows are not required to live in on-campus housing.
  • Faculty mentors are awarded a stipend of $1,000, paid over the span of the program.
  • Professional development workshops are held weekly.
  • Faculty seminars on research and creative activity projects are held weekly.
  • SURF includes a commencement ceremony with oral/poster presentations as well as social and networking events for fellows.
  • This program does not include college credit.

Contact Us

415 East Walnut Avenue 
Orange, CA 92867

Mailing Address:
Center for Undergraduate Excellence
1 University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
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