What is SURF?

Engage in research this summer on Purdue's West Lafayette, Indiana campus! SURF matches undergraduates with a faculty member and graduate student mentor who introduce them to the research tools used on the cutting edges of science, engineering, and technology. (Open to Purdue students and undergraduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.)

SURF students participate in research activities on campus over 10-weeks during a 11-week program in the summer.

In response to COVID-19, Purdue University's SURF 2020 program is moving to a remote platform

Based on recent decisions by Purdue Leadership, the Engineering Undergraduate Research Office (EURO) has finalized plans for the 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program to be delivered online. The SURF Remote Program period is June 1 through August 5, 2020.

To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2018 Research Symposium Abstracts (PDF) OR visit the Purdue e-Pubs SURF site.


Summer 2020
Application Deadline: February 1, 2020
SURF 2020 Online Start and End Dates: June 1 – August 5

SURF 2020 Online Schedule




Orientation 6/1/2020 11A - 1P
Literature Search and Review 6/3/2020 4-5:30P
SURFmania (Getting to know fellow SURFers) 6/5/2020 4-5P
Navigating a Career in National Labs 6/10/2020 4-5:30P
Navigating a Career in Industry 6/17/2020 4-5P
Is Graduate School the Answer? 6/24/2020 4-5:30P
Writing a technical abstract 7/1/2020 4-5P
Panel discussion with faculties 7/8/2020 4-5P
Graduate School Funding and Fellowship opportunities 7/10/2020 4-5P
Creating and delivering an effective poster 7/15/2020 4-5P
Creating and delivering an effective oral presentation 7/17/2020 4-5P
Preparing for a technical symposium/conference 7/22/2020 4-5P
Graduate School Application 7/24/2020 4-5P
SURF Symposium 7/30/2020 TBD*
SURF Celebrations E-event 8/4/2020 TBD

* This year’s symposium will be hosted online and hence the duration of the symposium might be longer than a day.

Why Participate in SURF?

  • Receive pay to conduct hands-on research under the direction of a faculty member and a graduate student
  • Attend professional development seminars
  • Present research discoveries at the SURF Symposium
  • Enjoy social activities with other SURF students
  • Network with faculties and students that conduct research that is of interest to you
  • Increase proficiency of technical communication
  • Gain experiences to work towards your future career goals, with a particular focus on post-graduation education
  • Celebrate at the end-of-summer banquet


Applicants for SURF must:

  • be a full-time student currently enrolled at Purdue or another U.S. institution of higher education in a bachelor’s degree program
  • have completed one academic semesters by the start of the SURF program
  • continue to be enrolled as an undergraduate the following academic year
  • have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8/4.0 at the time of application
  • be at least 18 years old by the time the program begins
  • participate for the scheduled program period (alternate program dates are not available)

Program Requirements

The SURF program will use Blackboard to support the program participants throughout their summer research experience. On Blackboard, participants will find announcements, assignments, the seminar schedule, and resource materials. For information about the structure of the program, click on the Information and Policies document. In order to successfully complete the program and receive the full summer stipend, each participant must fulfill the program requirements.

While participating in the SURF program, all students are expected to abide by the Purdue University Student Code of Conduct.

The SURF program is a 10-week research experience during a 11-week program. Vacations and time off are to be discussed with the faculties ahead of time and are subject to approval completely at the discretion of the faculties involved in the project.

Full-time SURF students may not enroll in classes while participating in the program. Part-time SURF students (applicable to PURDUE students only) may enroll in classes after gaining approval from the faculty mentor.

Selection Criteria

Students will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Eligibility
  • Application information and academic record
  • Qualifications for available research projects and successful match to a project
  • New researchers are encouraged to apply, as this program is well suited for the first-time researcher

Application Steps

  1. Complete the application form
    Describe your research experience, qualifications, relevant experiences. Upload your resume.
  2. Send Unofficial University transcript
    Upload your unofficial transcript with the application form. The unofficial transcript should be an original document and show all grades and coursework through the current spring session. Provide official transcripts from all other universities you attended (if applicable).
  3. Explore potential research projects
    Talk to Purdue professors about your research interests and potential opportunities in their lab. Review the SURF list of research projects with undergraduate research positions. You can indicate your interest in these projects directly on the application by selecting up to three projects. Additional projects will be posted as they become available. Return to this list frequently to view new project postings but be aware that not every available SURF project will be posted here.

The student-project matching will continue through March, but all application documents must be received in the SURF office by the application deadline.

External Students

Each summer top students from around the country join Purdue students in conducting research and networking with other undergraduates on the Purdue campus. The SURF program is enriched by the participation of 20-30 visiting students each year.

Purdue University was founded in 1869 and is celebrating a 150 years of Giant Leaps! Purdue is one of the nation’s leading research institutions with a student population of more than 40,000 on the main campus. During the summer, many students stay on campus to gain new skills and apply classroom knowledge to solve research problems in laboratories across campus. By working closely with other creative and innovative people, students explore, discover, and transform ideas into reality.

Come join us on the Purdue campus this summer! Students who have completed one academic semester at a U.S. institution by the time the program starts are encouraged to apply for the SURF program.

Learn more about life in the Greater Lafayette community.

External students are required to submit an official transcript that includes all grades and coursework through the current spring session. Additionally, students should request a letter of recommendation from a faculty member at their school. Both documents should be uploaded with the application by the application deadline.

External students may request on-campus housing at Hilltop apartments and travel assistance to Purdue’s campus. Hilltop apartments are double occupancy, and SURF will make roommate assignments. To be considered for assistance, you must complete the Visiting Student section of the online application.

Stipend for SURF Participants

Participants in the SURF program conduct research activities full-time, 40 hours per week over 11 weeks (20 hours per week for part-time students). The research activities include activities such as research in the lab (~90% of time), attending SURF required seminars, assignments related to the research process, etc.

Students receive a summer stipend of $5100 based on successful completion of the program. Funding for the student is provided by the professor directing the research project, the professor's school or department, and the professor’s college.


Purdue students are responsible for securing their own housing for the summer. External students will receive free housing at Purdue University for the duration of the program. Students who opt to receive course credit rather than pay are not eligible for housing support.

Research for credits instead of pay

Purdue students may opt to receive course credit for their research rather than a stipend. Students interested in this option should discuss the possibility with their professor and academic advisor in order to enroll in an established research course within their school or department. Students are responsible for all university tuition and fees associated with the independent research course. For this option, SURF does not provide any financial or housing support for the student. Students participating for credit are subject to the same program requirements as other participants.

Medical Insurance

While participating in the SURF program, students will be covered by basic medical insurance through the American Income Life Insurance Company . The insurance benefit is limited and does not cover pre-existing conditions. This coverage is primary. Any unapproved expenses will then be the financial responsibility of the student.

For non-emergency care, first, go to the SURF office in Potter 136 to complete the claim form. For services at Purdue University Student Health facility (PUSH), make an appointment and take the completed claim form to the appointment. If non-emergency care is required when PUSH is closed, go to IU Health Arnett Urgent Care at 253 Sagamore Parkway West or Franciscan Express Care at 915 Sagamore Parkway West in West Lafayette.

For emergency situations, call 911. After the emergency, contact the SURF office.


Always provide the medical facility with the insurance name:
American Income Life Insurance - Purdue University-SURF Program

Structured Events and activities organized by SURF

  • Modules - To help you learn positive research techniques.
  • Assignments - Login to Blackboard for details and due dates of the documents you will need to submit during your SURF experience.
  • Professional Development Seminars - These required workshops and seminars will help you successfully complete your research project, prepare for the SURF Research Symposium, and make the most of your SURF summer. Login to Blackboard for the schedule.
  • Other activities:
    • Graduate Mentor Award - The purpose of the SURF Graduate Mentor of the Summer award is to recognize Purdue graduate student mentors who have provided exceptional guidance and instruction to undergraduate students in the SURF program. Each year, a few graduate mentors are awarded to recognize their effort towards encouraging undergraduate research.
    • SURF Symposium - The SURF symposium showcases the research work of the SURF participants at the end of summer. The SURF participants present their research in the form of posters or presentations to an audience comprising of their peers, faculties and other Purdue students and staff.
    • SURFMania - An informal ice-breaking session where the SURF participants get to meet all their peers at the beginning of the summer.
    • Lab tours - Tours to various engineering and science labs are organized to give the students an overview of the cutting-edge research tools available at Purdue.

Other Resources