Purdue Summer SURF Program

Summer 2019

Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2019 Program Dates: May 20 – August 2

Student applications must be submitted by February 26, 2019.

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.)

Student in Lab 2009 Research-2 Student in Lab

What are students saying about SURF?

The SURF program is designed for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree and focuses on the following goals:

  1. Expose students to cutting-edge research studies by providing them a hands-on research experience
  2. Develop their knowledge of the research process and tools used by professional researchers
  3. Increase their proficiency in technical communication
  4. Help students connect their summer experience with their future goals, with particular focus on post-graduate education

SURF students participate in research activities on campus full-time for 11 weeks. During the summer, undergraduate students conduct research, attend weekly professional development seminars, participate in a research poster symposium, and build their research network. Through these activities, the program aims to stimulate their interest in advanced education and research careers.

To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2017 Research Symposium Abstracts OR visit the Purdue e-Pubs SURF site.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Download the SURF brochure.


Undergraduate students enrolled at Purdue and other U.S. institutions of higher education in a baccalaureate degree program with at least four academic semesters completed by the start of the program are eligible to apply.

Applicants must

  • be in full-time student status,
  • continue to be enrolled as an undergraduate the following academic year,
  • have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0/4.0 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.

The average GPA of SURF participants is 3.5.
Students who have participated in SURF in a previous year are not eligible for future years.

Selection Criteria

2009 Research-4

Students will be selected based on

  • eligibility
  • application information and academic record
  • qualifications for available research projects

New researchers are encouraged to apply, as this program is well suited for the first time researcher.

Program Requirements

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.

Students are expected to participate for the entire established program period noted above. Since the program is a full time research experience, time off is not provided during the program period. Students should plan vacations before and after the program.

Because of the time commitment of the research project, students may not enroll in classes while participating in the program.


Participants in the SURF program conduct research activities full-time, 40 hours per week for 11 weeks. They must be eligible to work in the United States and will receive a total stipend of $4500 plus a housing allowance, 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.

Housing during the Program Period

Students are responsible for securing their own housing for the summer. To assist students with their housing costs, participants in the program are eligible for a $600 housing allowance.

Students who opt to receive course credit rather than pay are not eligible for housing support.

For applicants from other U.S. institutions, more information is provided below, under Visiting Students.

Research for Credit instead of Pay

In order to assist Purdue students in meeting their academic requirements, 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.

Since SURF is a full time research experience, students should enroll in the course for at least 6 credit hours for the 11-week period and 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, and therefore may not enroll in additional classes while participating in SURF.

How to Apply

Students are encouraged to talk with faculty members who may have research positions for the summer as well as explore the research currently being conducted in the various schools/departments and at Discovery Park. The following websites may be helpful.

As students explore research opportunities and arrange to talk with professors, they should plan and prepare for those meetings. View these tips and suggestions.

When applying for the SURF program, students may either

  1. apply with a Purdue professor already identified and who has agreed to work with them
  2. OR
  3. provide information about their research interests and possible projects directly on the application form. Applicants will be considered for available research projects based on their interest and background.
  4. The SURF list of research projects describes projects with undergraduate research positions. Students can indicate their interest in these projects directly on the application by selecting up to three projects. Additional projects will be posted as they become available. Students are encouraged to return to this list frequently to view new project postings. Please be aware that not every available SURF project will be posted here.

    In addition to the research projects on the list noted above, undergraduates will discover other available projects when talking directly to Purdue faculty.

Application Steps

Application Steps
  1. Complete and submit the online application form. Because of the importance of the essay portion of the application, you are encouraged to draft your responses in a separate document, and then cut and paste into the text boxes.

    On the application form, you will be asked to describe your...
    • previous undergraduate research experience
    • interest in pursuing a graduate degree
    • motivation and commitment to participate in the SURF program
    • role in the research project in which you want to participate, OR a description of your research areas of interest, if you do not yet have a project
    Upload your current resume onto the application (PDF or Word document).
  2. Deliver a current official university transcript to the SURF office in Wang Hall, Room 4040; OR an electronic version could be sent from the Registrar's Office directly to the Program Manager at vleavitt@purdue.edu.
    The transcript should be an original document and show all university grades and coursework through the current spring session. Students who have attended more than one university will need to provide transcripts from all schools.

All documents must be received in the SURF office by the application deadline. Once a student is matched to a project, the Purdue faculty member will be asked to submit a recommendation for you electronically.

If you have any questions, please contact the SURF office:
surf@purdue.edu, 765-496-2349

Visiting Students

2009 VS Chicago

Each summer top students from around the country come to Purdue to conduct research and network with other undergraduates. Students who have completed their junior year at a U.S. institution by the time the program starts are encouraged to apply for the SURF program. Each year, the program is enriched by the participation of 20-30 visiting students. Come join us on the Purdue campus!

Purdue University was founded in 1869 and is one of the nation's leading research institutions with a student population of 40,000 during the academic year. While fewer students are enrolled in classes during the summer, many undergraduates stay on campus to learn 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.

Learn more about life in the Greater Lafayette community.

When applying for the program...

An official transcript which includes all grades and coursework through the current spring session is required for every application. Due to the time it may take to obtain an original transcript, students should order one as soon as possible after the fall session grades have been recorded. Also, visiting students should request a letter of recommendation from a faculty member at their school. Both documents should be sent directly to the SURF office by the program deadline.

Visiting students may request on-campus housing and assistance with travel to Purdue's campus. Campus housing is available at Hilltop apartments. The 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions that are not answered on this page, please contact us for assistance.

Where is the SURF office?

The SURF office is located on the 4th floor of Wang Hall, Room 4040.

Office hours are 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. (Top)

Who can apply for the SURF program?

Undergraduate students enrolled at Purdue and other U.S. institutions are eligible to apply. (Top)

I am currently a freshman, can I apply for SURF?

The SURF program is designed for students who have completed at least four semesters prior to the start of the program. Freshmen should apply in a future year.  (Top)

How do I apply for the SURF program?

Students can apply on-line at http://www.purdue.edu/surf/ApplicationForm/. (Top)

Does SURF provide housing during the summer?

Students are responsible for securing their own housing for the summer. To assist students with their housing costs, participants in the program are eligible for a $600 housing allowance. If you are an applicant from another U.S. institution, housing and travel assistance may be available instead. (Top)

How much will I be paid?

During the summer, students are paid $4500 (plus $600 housing allowance, if applicable) for the 11-week program. Students are paid monthly.  (Top)

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. Please refer to the IRS Publication 970.

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. (Top)

Can I receive both pay and credit for the research?

Students can opt to receive pay OR credit, but not both. (Top)

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 research projects with potential openings; however, this is not a comprehensive list of potential projects. (Top)

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. (Top)

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. (Top)

When will I know if I’m accepted into the SURF program?

Students will be contacted by email in April. (Top)

Does my GPA affect my acceptance into the program?

GPA is considered along with the entire application. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required. (Top)

How can I get an official university transcript?

Purdue students can order a current transcript by going to the Registrar’s office kiosk outside Room 45 in Hovde Hall, or online through MyPurdue. Please verify that your transcript includes all past and current coursework. Visiting students should contact their student services office and have the transcript sent electronically or mailed directly to the SURF office. (Top)

Is it possible to take a summer class and participate in the SURF program?

The SURF program is an intensive, full time (40 hours per week) research experience. Because of the academic commitment a summer class entails and the intense nature of the summer research, students may not enroll in summer classes or other internships while participating in SURF. For the summer program, students participating for research credit should enroll in the appropriate course for at least 6 credit hours. (Top)

Can I take time off during the SURF program?

Since the program is a full time research experience, time off is not provided during the program period. Students should plan vacations before and after the program. (Top)

Approximately how many students participate in the SURF program?

Each summer, 140-150 students participate in the SURF program. (Top)

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. (Top)