SURF Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
SURF 2023 Program Dates
Student Application Window: January 9 - February 15, 2023
Program Dates: May 22 - August 2, 2023
SURF Symposium: July 27-28, 2023
SURF Award Reception: August 1, 2023
Table of contents
Who can apply for the SURF program?
Undergraduate students enrolled at Purdue and other U.S. institutions are eligible to apply.
Please review the full list of eligibility criteria on the website. Students can participate in the SURF program only once.
I am currently a freshman, can I apply for SURF?
Yes. See the eligibility criteria and Pre-SURF program for more details.
Are international students studying in undergraduate institutions outside of U.S. eligible to apply for the SURF program?
SURF program is only available to students currently enrolled in an institution in the U.S.
I will be graduating in April/May this year. Am I eligible to apply to the SURF program this year?
No. SURF is available only for students who will continue to be enrolled as an undergraduate for at least one academic semester/quarter after the end of the SURF program.
How do I apply for the SURF program?
Please visit the SURF Application Form to apply online.
I am a Purdue student; do I need to find a faculty member to work with prior to applying for the SURF program?
No. However, we encourage Purdue students to contact faculty members directly to determine if research opportunities exist in their lab. We highly encourage you to determine your areas of interest and explore the research being conducted on campus. Each school/department’s website lists faculty members and their specific research areas. We also have a list of projects with potential openings; however, this is not a comprehensive list of potential projects.
As a non-Purdue applicant, do I need to find a faculty mentor or will one be assigned to me?
For non-Purdue students considered for the program, the SURF staff will assist them in finding an appropriate research project and mentor. Students are encouraged to explore Purdue websites to discover the research being conducted at Purdue and indicate their research interest on the application form, including specific projects and names of faculty members, if possible.
Can I conduct research in a lab that is outside my major and school?
Yes, the interdisciplinary aspect of many of the projects allows students to learn and work across other disciplines while still applying the concepts and skills from their own programs. Students are encouraged to determine all research areas that may be of interest to them.
Does my GPA affect my acceptance into the program?
GPA is considered along with the entire application. A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 is required.
How can I get a university transcript?
A PDF of either official or unofficial transcript should be uploaded along with your application. Your transcript should include all past and current coursework. Please do NOT email/mail us your transcript.
Can I submit my application without the letter of recommendation?
Only external students (Non-Purdue students) need a letter of recommendation. You can submit your application without the letter of recommendation letter. Once you submit your application, you will receive a link to upload the LOR. You may forward it to your recommender so that they can upload the letter to our system.
Who can submit a letter of recommendation for me?
You can obtain a recommendation letter from a Professor/Professional who you have worked closely with and can attest to your work ethics, attitude, behavior, skills, and interest related to the SURF program. Recommenders may be faculty teaching a course you have taken, lab lead of a research project that you were part of, professionals leading a team that you did your internship in.
What should be in the content of my letter of recommendation?
Your letter of recommendation should describe why you would be a good fit for the SURF program. Your recommender may choose to describe your professional work ethics, and/or your research/leadership/teamwork capabilities based on their interaction with you.
When should I request my letter of recommendation?
It is good practice to allow your recommender 2-3 weeks to submit your letter of recommendation. You should plan ahead, and request a recommendation ahead of time, so that your recommender has time to submit the letter before the application deadline.
Can I have multiple letters of recommendation?
No. Only one letter is allowed. If a second letter is uploaded, it will overwrite the first one.
What is a letter of interest?
The letter of interest is a one-page letter describing why you are interested in the program and why you think that you would be a good fit for the program. It should be directed to EURO. You can mention your interest in SURF, relevant skills and experience, research interests, career goal, how research is aligned with your future plan, and the project(s) that matches your research interest. You also may explain any special circumstances applicable to your background and elaborate on your special abilities, awards, achievements, scholarly publications, and/or professional history.
Here is a template of letter of interest for your reference.
These are some relevant links, which you may find helpful:
I am asked to select three projects of interest. Does it mean that I have to write three letters of interet?
No, you will only write one. Be sure your letter of interest is all-inclusive, and supports your suitability for all three projects listed on your application. If you are particularly interested in working in a faculty's project or have reached out to a faculty/graduate student already, you can also mention that and list why you would be a good candidate for the project (courses taken, previous research experience etc. that align with the requirements of the project of interest).
When is the deadline for SURF 2023 application?
The deadline for SURF 2023 application is 15 February, 2023 (11:59 PM EST).
My university is based on a quarter system. How do I convert it to "completed semester" for the application?
You may count 3 completed quarter systems to be equal to 2 completed semesters.
I have already identified a faculty that I want to work with for SURF and the faculty has also agreed to offer me a position. Do I still have to submit an application?
Yes, you will still need to submit an application. Indicate the details of the project in the application when prompted. Also, you may choose to post a research project in the SURF website on behalf of your graduate mentor/faculty mentor, to facilitate the process. See Post a research project for more details.
A new project was posted after I submitted my application. I am really interested in this one. Can I still update my choices of projects to include it?
Please email email@example.com to request change by Feb 15 if you would like to update your choices of projects. Please do NOT submit a new application. We will accommodate to change once.
Do faculty review the applications after the end of the SURF application submission deadline?
SURF applications are considered on a rolling basis, and hence applications are available to be reviewed by the faculty as soon as they are submitted. Some faculty may wish to wait till the application deadline, to review applications while others may choose to decide on offering a position as soon as they identify a potential candidate for their project.
When will I know if I am accepted into the SURF program?
SURF offer letters will be sent to students through email in March and early April. We will send official rejection in April if you are not selected. Please do not email/call us to inquire about the decision.
If I receive an offer, what's the next step?
You will have a few days to decide whether to accept or decline it. Please let us and the professor know the decision at your earliest convenience.
Where is the Engineering Undergraduate Research office?
The Engineering Undergraduate Research Office is located in Room 2522, Dudley Hall, 420 Central Dr, West Lafayette. Office hour schedule can be found here.
Does SURF provide housing during the summer?
Purdue students are responsible for securing their own housing for the summer. External students from another U.S. institution will obtain free housing for the duration of the SURF program.
How much will I be paid?
During the summer, students are paid $6000 on a biweekly schedule for the 11-week program.
Will my pay be subject to income tax?
The SURF stipend will be paid as a personal payment. Students are considered participants in the SURF program but are not employees of the university. In most cases, taxes will not be withheld from your checks, but the income may be subject to taxes at the end of the year. Each taxpayer is responsible for determining the amount that may be taxable and should contact a tax advisor with questions. IRS Publication 970 may provide helpful information.
Note: For international students, the payments may be subject to taxes as required by the U.S. government. Participants will be asked to update their on-line Glacier file. The generated summary report will indicate any tax liability and the documents required by the university to process your pay.
Do I need CPT authorization if I am an international student?
An international student studying at Purdue does not need CPT authorization. All other international students will need authorization from their home university.
Can I receive both pay and credit for the research?
No. SURF students will only be able to receive pay for completing the 11-week program.
Is it possible to take a summer class and participate in the SURF program?
We do not recommend the students to take classes during SURF. This has to be discussed with the faculty mentor and this option is available only to Purdue students at the discretion of the faculty mentors. External students are not allowed to take summer classes while participating in the program.
Can I take time off during the SURF program?
Yes. Since SURF is a 10-week program in a span of 11-week, students are eligible to take time off. However, this has to be discussed and approved by the faculty mentors and EURO ahead of time. Students are advised to discuss this with their faculty mentor before accepting the position (especially if long duration of time off is anticipated during the summer).
Approximately how many students participate in the SURF program?
Each summer, 150-200 students participate in the SURF program.
SURF is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Program; does that mean it only exists during the summer?
SURF may offer research opportunities during the academic year, as well. If available, they will be posted on the SURF website.
How will SURF 2023 proceed in light of the COVID-19?
SURF 2023 will be most likely be in person given the current information. Please check back later for a final decision.