Research Funding

Academic Year Applications 
All UScholars in good academic and student conduct standing pursuing any type of project are eligible to apply on a rolling basis beginning on Oct. 1 for very limited funding to travel to present their research at a conference or to conduct research during the academic year. Such funding enables students to pursue research opportunities by defraying related expenses. 

Application Components 
Online Funding Application Form 
A one-page application must specify the rationale for funding – how does this opportunity advance your broader research aims as well as the UScholars mission – and a justification for each item and its cost as listed in the budget. The application must follow professional standards for your field of inquiry, including footnotes and other such references to others’ related work. 

Timeline 
Academic year funding proposals must be completed and submitted via an online form at least three (3) weeks before the funding is needed. If you receive this funding during an academic year, you must present at CURF’s Spring Research Fair in that same year – a presentation commitment in addition to the general UScholars requirement of presenting your work on campus at least once while a UScholar. 

 

Summer Research Proposals 
The UScholars program serves as a student’s primary co-curricular research commitment. As such, the program provides financial support sufficient to enable students to conduct their research full-time over the summer with focus only on the UScholars research project, without commitments to or financial support from other opportunities. Funding levels vary by student and are based on needs. In general, disbursements to students in a typical summer range from $500 to $5,000. 

All UScholars in good academic and student conduct standing pursuing any type of project are eligible to apply for funds to cover the costs of their summer research. Also, to be eligible to apply, all applicants must attend the spring funding workshop prior to the summer for which they are requesting funding. A majority of the UScholars Faculty Steering Committee must approve a proposal for it to receive funding Upon initial submission, proposals are expected to be complete according to the guidelines stated below.  However, in keeping with the UScholars educational mission, the committee has the option of requesting that an insufficient proposal be revised and resubmitted for further consideration. 


Proposal Components 
Online Funding Proposal Form 
Proposals must address in essay form all parts of the questions and follow professional standards for your field of inquiry, including footnotes and other such references to others’ related work. 

The research narrative must outline your project’s theoretical premise – what you aim to learn and based on what previous related work within your field of inquiry – and your methodological process – how you will come to answer the project’s driving questions. Proposals must also include a discussion of the project’s relevance:  why does this work matter and how might its outcomes contribute to and even further an existing body of knowledge?  Additionally, you should specify how this research opportunity relates to the UScholars mission. 

The proposal’s budget must itemize, detail, and justify the specific expenses funding is intended to cover since this funding is designed to cover the actual costs directly incurred while you conduct your research over the summer, whether at Penn or elsewhere.  For example, you must specify the rental amount for the period of any rented housing, your monthly food costs, and other expenses resulting from pursuing your research. To prepare your budget, please take advantage of this SRFS resource (https://srfs.upenn.edu/financial-wellness) for learning how to budget and this resource (https://www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator) for determining costs of living in Philadelphia and beyond. Possible funding, as stated below, depends on need and varies on a case-by-case basis. 

Eligible costs include: 

  • Costs of living (e.g., rent, meals, etc.): Up to $1,500 per month for up to three months. These costs must be itemized as specfically as possible. 

  • Travel costs (e.g., economy air or train fare, economy lodging, etc.): You must use the most economical options.  You cannot receive travel funding to somewhere you are already going to be, even without the research project, such as for a job or study abroad. 

  • Materials and supplies: While laboratory supplies and research materials are normally provided by the lab in which a student works, non-laboratory fields may not necessarily provide such resources. In all cases, when requesting funding for supplies, materials, or books, you must list what is already supplied by your mentor’s resources, and describe how the additional resources are needed and why UScholars funding is needed to purchase them. 

Ineligible costs include: 

  • stipends, hourly wages, salaries, tuition (with the exception of language instruction), field camps, and other learning experiences justified by a training proposal 

  • computers/laptops 

  • equipment or other durable goods 

In all cases, there may be special circumstances. If so, please fully explain what you need and why. 

Faculty Mentor's Letter 
Your faculty mentor must provide a letter of support specific to the research proposal that addresses its usefulness and feasibility within the intended time frame. The letter should affirm that you have the skills, background, experience, and knowledge required for the chosen methodology and independent work. It should also articulate the faculty advisor’s role and how closely or distantly s/he will work with the project. It may also discuss others who will provide additional advice or consultation. 

Timeline 
Summer research funding proposals must be completed and submitted via an online form by no later than March 1

All summer research funding recipients must submit a progress report approved by the student’s research advisor or mentor via an online form by no later than Sept. 1.  Additionally, they must present their research at the Fall Research Expo following their summer research. 

 
Training Proposals 
Although many UScholars will be actively engaged in research projects during their first year at Penn, an occasional UScholar would benefit from additional training before applying for research support.  This training might include, for example, learning specialized laboratory or field techniques or participating in intensive language training.  In these cases, the UScholar may submit a research proposal for summer training. Normally, these proposals are limited to rising sophomores and must be clearly linked to a specific future research project. The UScholar must have a research advisor who is a member of the Penn faculty and who, in a supporting letter, must describe the importance of the training for a specific future research project and agree to guide the student over the summer during which the training takes place.