Getting a SURF student

A student's acceptance into SURF is contingent on the following criteria:

  • The student submits a high quality application that is reviewed and approved by SURF.
  • A faculty member agrees to work with the student on a particular project and recommends that student for SURF via the online SURF Recommendation Form.
  • Funding is available to support the student.

The application review process

Students must apply online by the posted deadline, with or without a specific research project identified. The application review process begins mid-February and includes the SURF office, the professor, and the professor’s school and/or college.

Faculty who have posted a research project on the SURF website will have access to the online application system where they can review applications and select applicants to interview for their project. Once a student has been identified for a project, a recommendation for the student is completed by the faculty member. The recommendation is an important part of the student’s acceptance as we must know that there is an available project suited for the student and the student is a good fit for all components of SURF. Next, the schools/colleges review their students' applications and send their recommendations to the SURF office. Finally, the SURF office reviews all recommended applicants and finalizes the participant list.

Identifying a student for a research project

Professors are encouraged to recruit students from Purdue as well as from other U.S. universities. SURF provides a great opportunity to introduce students to Purdue, expose them to the research environment, and attract them to research careers and graduate programs.

In order for students to be eligible to participate in SURF, they must first complete the SURF online application where they will explain their interest in gaining hands-on research experience and completing the SURF program requirements. Qualified students are then identified by a faculty member for a specific project who then submits a project description and recommendation for the student to be selected for SURF and assigned to their project.

Faculty members who have already identified a student should encourage that student to apply for SURF. If a student has not been identified and the faculty member wants to select a student from a pool of applicants, faculty should post a research project on the SURF website for all students to view. Projects posted on the SURF website will be available for applicants to view and then indicate their top three choices directly on their application.

Funding of SURF participants

SURF participants receive a stipend OR course credit for their summer research activities. Most students choose to receive a stipend. Information about the credit option is available at the Information for Applicant  webpage. Since SURF is a full-time research experience, students are not allowed to enroll in classes or take vacation time-off during the program period.

Students are paid $4500 plus a housing benefit of $600. The SURF funding model splits the per-student cost equally between three entities – the professor, the professor’s school/department, and the professor’s college. Each entity provides $1700 per student.

Faculty with an NSF-funded research project may qualify for an REU Supplement to fund an undergraduate student researcher. The Sponsored Program Services Pre-Award Centers can assist faculty members in submitting the necessary paperwork. Information is available at the NSF website as well.