Purdue Summer SURF Program

Summer 2020

Application Deadline: Saturday, February 1, 2020

Summer 2019

Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 (deadline passed)

2019 Program Dates: May 20 – August 2

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 over 11 weeks during the summer. They conduct research in the lab, 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 2018 Research Symposium Abstracts OR visit the Purdue e-Pubs SURF site.

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


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),
  • have not participated in Purdue's SURF program in a previous year.

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 at the top of this page. 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 over 11 weeks. 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 $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 External Students.

Research for Credit instead of Pay

While uncommon, 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.

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.

Selection Criteria

2009 Research-4

Students will be selected based on the following criteria.

  • Eligibility
  • Application information and academic record
  • Qualifications for available research projects & successful match to a project

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

SURF Application and Selection Process

What is the process and who is involved (December thru March)?

  • Apply online by the February due date
  • Explore research opportunities and talk with professors
  • Post projects to SURF website or recruit through their department
  • Interview students
  • Identify a good candidate for the project and recommend them for SURF
SURF Office...
  • Process and review online applications
  • Assist students and professors with project matches
  • Review professor's request for a student & confirm funding
  • Select SURF participants and make offers

Application Steps

Application Steps
  1. Complete and submit the online application form
    On the form, you will be asked to describe your...
    • specific research interests, qualifications, and relevant experience
    • motivation and commitment to participate in the SURF program
    Upload your current resume onto the application form (PDF format).
  2. Provide a current official university transcript to the SURF office
    To do this, request that your Registrar's Office send the official document electronically via a secure website to surf@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.
  3. Explore potential research projects
    • Talk to Purdue professors about your research interests and potential opportunities in their lab. Tips on getting started on your search.
    • Review the SURF list of research projects
      The SURF list of research projects describes 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.

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

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

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

External Students (Applicants from outside Purdue)

2009 VS Chicago

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 months, many undergraduates 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 their junior year 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.

When applying for the program...

An official transcript that includes all grades and coursework through the current spring session is required. Due to the length of 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. Additionally, 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 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.

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. Please review the full eligibility criteria on the website. (Top)

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

No. 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. IRS Publication 970 may provide helpful information.

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?

No. 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 am accepted into the SURF program?

SURF offers will be sent to students through email in early 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 online through MyPurdue and ask for it to be sent to surf@purdue.edu. Your transcript should include all past and current coursework. External 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?

No. 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 instead of pay should enroll in the appropriate course for at least 6 credit hours. (Top)

Can I take time off during the SURF program?

No. 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)