College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant

Application Deadline

March 12, 2018

Spring Funding Cycle Deadline: March 12, 2018

Fall funding cycle Deadline: October 22, 2017

One of the great strengths of the University of Pennsylvania is its capacity to offer significant research experiences to its undergraduates. Members of Penn’s alumni community have created a number of grants to support research and scholarly work of undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences. Due to the generosity of Penn alumni, grants are now available in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Complete descriptions of these awards are available at the end of this announcement. Research in any field is eligible for support. Only students in the College of Arts & Sciences are eligible to apply. College students applying to the College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant will also be considered for the Vagelos, Holtz, and other awards listed at the end of this description – please do not apply separately for each grant.

Applications and all supporting materials, including Faculty recommendations, are due electronically to CURF by midnight on Monday, March 12, 2018

These grants are intended to help pay the costs of research projects proposed by students and supervised by a Penn faculty member. Students do not need to specify which grant they are applying for; all use the same application form and deadline, and proposals will be automatically allocated to the appropriate fund.

The grants will be administered according to the following guidelines:

  1. The project shall represent original research or scholarship allowing the student to make a significant contribution to knowledge
  2. The project shall be largely conceived and executed by the student and not simply represent faculty research in which the student assists
  3. While students inherently must investigate their projects before applying for funding, grants will be awarded only for projects to be carried out after the proposal has been approved. Decisions will be made in December and April of each academic year for projects that are to be conducted during the academic year or the following summer. In no case will projects already completed be funded
  4. Each project shall have a faculty advisor who will normally be a member of the SAS standing faculty. In some cases, a qualified advisor from outside the SAS faculty may be appropriate
  5. Recipients are expected to complete their projects before graduation, and therefore students are ineligible to apply during their final undergraduate semester.
  6. Funding should be used to help defray the student’s research costs and should not be a substitute for financial aid nor for the advisor’s research funding. Types of expenses to which the funds may be applied include travel to libraries, museums, archives, and research sites; living expenses that would enable the student to remain at the University during the summer; research equipment and supplies, including books, films, and photocopying; computer or laboratory fees; subject fees necessary to execute a research project; and specialized computer peripherals and software. Please note that conference travel, registration, poster printing etc. are not considered research associated expenses.  (Reimbursement of living expenses may be taxable.) Items that cost $500 or more with a useful life of one year or more must be purchased with a University purchase requisition and will remain the property of the University. Last year’s awards ranged from $250 to $1,000; the maximum for each award this year is expected to be about $1,000
  7. All applicants must be undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences students in good standing in the University of Pennsylvania community
  8. If several students are applying to work on aspects of the same project, each student must apply individually and describe clearly their independent research project, approach, methods, and evidence. Each student should also note in their individual application that their work is part of a larger project, and identify the other students working on aspects of the project.

Deadlines and Procedure for Application

Fall funding cycle Deadline: October 22, midnight (Applicants notified by December 22)

Spring funding cycle Deadline: March 12, midnight (Applicants notified by April 27)

Applications will be evaluated by a faculty committee designated by CURF. Applications with late material risk not being considered.


Prepare your proposal in consultation with your faculty research advisor. You may also wish to consult with the undergraduate chair in your major department or your major program director. Prepare the following five components in this order before proceeding to the Application Form:

  1. Short abstract (on a separate page; explain the overall goals of the project in less than 100 words)
  2. Objectives and Methodology (500 words maximum)
    1. State the objectives and relevance of the proposed work in terms intelligible to an educated non-specialist
    2. Briefly evaluate existing knowledge and work in the area and provide a brief background summary justifying the proposed project’s potential contribution to the field
    3. Describe the design and procedures to be employed and provide a timetable and implementation plan for completion of the project
  3. Itemized Budget, plus total (on a separate page). List each budget item in order of priority and justify it in terms of the work proposed. Include the total amount needed to complete the project (even if this is more than the grant limit of $1000). If funds are being sought from other sources, state the source and potential amount of such funding. Depending on availability of funds, the amount awarded may be less than the total amount requested
  4. Create an electronic version of your Penn InTouch transcript by going to Academic Records —> Transcript & GPA, and print your transcript as a .pdf
  5. Bibliography (no more than one page – limit of 12 items) of key scholarly works (listed in the citation format used in your discipline) providing background for your project. These may be books or articles, and they may be a mix of theoretical and empirical works that inform the project. If desired, a one-sentence annotation may be used to explain a specific item’s relevance to the project, but annotations are not required

Fill out the application form at Common Research Grant ApplicationYou must submit all these materials in a single file in .pdf format. No other format will be accepted. To create a copy of your Penn transcript, go to Penn InTouch and print your transcript to pdf. (If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer, download the free installer or use a Penn computer that has Adobe Acrobat installed.) Print and save each document as a pdf, then create a single pdf file as indicated above by navigating to Acrobat’s “File -> Create -> Combine Files into a Single PDF” feature.

Letter of Recommendation

In addition, your faculty research advisor must separately submit a supporting letter of recommendation on your behalf. It is your responsibility that this letter be submitted to CURF no later than midnight on March 12, 2018. In this letter, your faculty advisor should discuss the feasibility of the project and the adequacy of your preparation to undertake it. The letter should make clear the nature and extent of your contribution in formulating and carrying out the project. 

The letter should:

  • Review and comment on the student’s projected budget
  • Discuss the project’s feasibility and the adequacy of the applicant’s preparation to complete it
  • Describe the extent of the student’s contribution in formulating and carrying out the project
  • Advise the student on any applicable Institutional Review Board or related issues
  • If applicable, please indicate what supplies or support might be provided by your lab or budget

Please request the letter as soon as possible from your faculty research advisor via the Recommendation Request Form, and inform your faculty research advisor whether you have chosen to keep their letter confidential and waive your right of access to it.


Research Awards Supported by the College Alumni Society

  • College Alumni Society Grants
    • The Ernest M. Brown, Jr. College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for students in the life sciences or preparing for medical school
    • The College Alumni Society Board of Managers and Presidents Undergraduate Research Grants
    • The Allison Lazo Hallingby College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for undergraduates in Architecture.
    • The Ruth Marcus Kanter College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant
    • The Kelson Family College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for projects in environmental studies, theater arts, architecture or Russian studies.
    • The Kanta Marwah College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for projects in economics.
    • The Mary L. And Matthew S. Santirocco College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for projects in classics, humanities, or biomedical studies.
    • The Cabanne C. Smith College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, for theater arts.
    • The Louis H Castor, M.D., C’48 Undergraduate Research Grant, for students planning careers in family medicine and projects in related disciplines.
    • The Goldfeder Family Undergraduate Research Grant, for projects in biological sciences.
    • The Dean’s Research Award, for laboratory biomedical research.
    • The Millstein Family Undergraduate Research Grant, for projects in psychology or urban studies.


Funds will not be disbursed until students review CURF’s information on Ethics and Compliance and complete and submit all necessary forms. All CURF-funded student researchers must complete CURF’s Research Experience Checklist and Waiver of Liability. Students conducting research outside the US are required to provide International Travel and Emergency Contact information on the Checklist and register their trip with Penn’s Global Activities Registry.

Once the award has been made and the Research Experience Checklist and Waiver of Liability has been submitted to CURF and approved, research funds and a copy of your budget will be sent to the Business Administrator (BA) of your Primary College major department listed on your application. Recipients must work with their Primary College major department’ s BA to determine how to access these funds.

Research involving animals or hazardous materials must also be submitted for approval by the relevant University oversight committees. Students should consult with their faculty research advisors to correctly submit any necessary forms.

Research Offering Type

Grant Independent Research

Research Offering Location


Undergraduate School


Research Offering Source


Contact Information

Dr. Ann Vernon-Grey
Phone: 215-746-6488
Fax: 215-573-4869