SURF Grants

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The Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program provides up to $3,250 in support to sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in conducting in-depth research projects in their specific fields of study.

The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards facilitates applications for SURF. Honors students who are not awarded a SURF are automatically considered for an Honors College Research Grant as long as they meet honors criteria. Therefore, all students who want to apply for an Honors College Research Grant in the fall must apply through the SURF application process.


Students in all academic fields are encouraged to apply. Past SURF-funded projects have ranged from developing targeted delivery of a protein that fights cancer cells to a sculpture installation.

To apply, you must have a faculty mentor and a well-developed proposal. Other requirements include:

  • U.S. citizen, resident alien, or national
  • Minimum of 30 hours of college credit at time of funding
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher at time of application

You may not have an active Honors College Research Grant at the same time that you have an active SURF. 

  • Funding may be up to $3,250 for the student, plus $750 for the faculty mentor.
  • Lesser amounts may be awarded, depending on the grant period.
  • The SURF program provides funding for students to travel to conferences and present their accomplishments.
  • Winning proposals are announced in December, with work expected to begin in January at the earliest, depending on the grant period requested in your application.
  • Seniors with SURF grants must complete their SURF-funded research work prior to graduation.
  • Didn’t get the SURF grant? No worries. If you are a member of the Honors College, your application will automatically be considered for an Honors College Research Grant.

It’s always helpful to see examples. Here are some past proposals that got the grant.

The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards is offering three workshops to help students prepare for the SURF application. ONCA highly recommends you attend a workshop!

For more information about this year’s application registration and workshops, please visit the SURF webpage

Questions? Contact Jonathan Langley at or 479-575-2716.

Two words about timing: start early! The deadline for applications will be announced later, but is typically in the third week of October. You can submit your application earlier in October by contacting the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.

And keep in mind the timing of your research as well. Winning proposals are announced in December, with work expected to begin in January at the earliest, depending on the grant period requested in your application. 

Seniors with SURF grants must complete their SURF-funded research work prior to graduation.

Important tip: If you are applying for SURF, make an appointment with an advisor in the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards for application review. Email

Start the SURF application process by completing the online SURF Registration form.

To register, you need to know:

  • Project title
  • Project timeline
  • Research Compliance Protocols for Biosafety, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC-Animals), and Institutional Review Board (IRB-Humans)
  • Mentor’s contact information

After registering, you will receive an email with a zip file that includes the following materials:

  • SURF application instructions
  • SURF application in Adobe PDF format
  • SURF budget justification form in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format

Required Application Materials
Prepare the following items, which must be submitted to the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards by the appropriate deadline.

You will turn in an original and one copy of your packet.

  • 2 pages maximum. (If the vita is longer than 2 pages, SURF reviewers will discard everything after the second page!)
  • The mentor CV should include the following information:
    • Name, department, institution
    • Brief statement of research/scholarly interests
    • List of recent publications
    • List of undergraduate advisees and undergraduate projects directed (limit to last 5 years)
    • Other relevant information (as space allows)

Important tip: Contact your mentor early (at least a month ahead) so that s/he has time to update and summarize his/her vita.

  • Letter of support from your faculty mentor
  • Two letters of support from U of A faculty members
  • Address all letters to the SURF Selection Committee
  • Preferred on official letterhead and signed, delivered in an envelope signed across the seal.

Strong letters of recommendation are very important! The following tips will help:

  • Professors who know you well from the classroom will write the most persuasive letters (their rank does not matter, so long as they are faculty).
  • Letters from employers, graduate students, staff, academic advisors and University Perspectives teachers who are not regular faculty do not count and will eliminate your proposal from the review process.
  • Contact faculty early - these letters are important and require information about you and your research project.
  • Refer faculty members to Recommendation Guidelines.

Send a reminder a week ahead of the due date.

Your resume should be a succinct, compelling outline of your experience and academic work.

  • 2 pages maximum.
  • Education: GPA, degree plan, number of hours completed, and class standing (sophomore, junior, senior).
  • Research Experience: lab experience, presentations, posters, publications of any kind, projects underway.
  • Honors & Awards: scholarships, previous grant funding, other honors.
  • Relevant Experience: leadership experience, community service, work experience, significant hobbies.
  • We recommend that you review the online resume resources provided by the Career Development Center.

Ask someone in the Career Development Center to review your resume before you submit it.

  • You must submit a current, official university transcript and one copy.
  • Contact the Office of the Registrar to request your transcript.
  • 1 page maximum.
  • Your project summary must include, at the top left corner of the page, the following:
    • Student:
    • Mentor:
    • Institution:
    • Student Classification:
    • Student GPA:
    • Area of Study:
    • Title of Project: 
  • The first paragraph should convey the scope of the project and why your research matters.

Be sure that the summary is comprehensible to the general campus community.

  • 5 pages maximum.
  • Craft a well-written, carefully documented research proposal that shows you know something about your field and project. Be sure to answer the following questions:
    • Is the proposed research/scholarly activity of value to your field of study? How (and why)?
    • Is the project of sufficient difficulty to challenge you?
    • Will the project teach you skills that are transferable to other research endeavors/scholarly activities?
  • Address the feasibility of the project (i.e., is the project reasonable for you to pursue with available facilities?)
  • The project description requires a timeline of activities (must fit within the 5 page limit).

Important tip: Be sure to cite every source you reference in your proposal! Use the style guidelines preferred by your specific discipline (ask your mentor if you’re unsure).

  • You must list your anticipated project expenses on the SURF budget form.
  • Be sure to select the form that matches your project’s timeline (Spring Only, Spring and Summer Only, etc.).
  • Do not alter the student stipend amount.
  • Enter a basic description of how you plan to use travel funds.
  • Mentor costs must be itemized.

Didn't get the SURF grant? No worries. If you are enrolled in the Honors College your application will automatically be considered for an Honors College Research Grant.

For more information visit the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards website.

Questions? Contact Jonathan Langley at or (479) 575-2716.

Congratulations! The SURF grant will help you get your work done – and it’s a major plus for your resume.

What’s next?

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will contact you when they are notified of your award. The notification will be sent to your UARK email account, so please check there for any emails concerning SURF. They will walk you through a step-by-step award process.

For more information visit the SURF page on their web site.