Summer URGs provide a 3,500 stipend to cover living and research expenses for eight weeks of full-time independent academic and creative work, in all fields of study, under faculty supervision.

Check out last year’s 2020 SURG winners! 

COVID UPDATE: All grant proposals should indicate in their methodology section how current or potential COVID restrictions will be addressed.  Examples could include a remote option if in-person parts of the project become impossible.  The grant committee will not be able to approve any proposal without articulated COVID planning.  We have created a new resource to help you think through Research Methodologies and Potential COVID Considerations.




The Summer URG 2021 application deadline is Friday, March 12, 2021.

We hope to make decision announcements in mid-to-late April.


Northwestern University undergraduates from any major are eligible, including students working in the creative arts. Seniors may not apply to conduct projects the summer following graduation. Students must be returning to undergraduate coursework for the fall term. Students can only be awarded one Summer URG during their academic career, but they can hold both a Summer and an Academic Year URG. During the 8-week grant period, students cannot also have an internship, take classes, or work (even part time).  Students must notify the Office of Undergraduate Research before they accept any additional funding during the period covered by this grant.


If you already received a Summer URG for the Office of Undergraduate Research, you may be eligible for a second grant through the Summer URG Advanced program.




What It Is

A grant to work on your own project, full-time (40 hours/week) for eight weeks. The eight weeks do not have to be consecutive.

A $3,500 lump-sum grant paid to you up front to cover your living and research expenses, and 50% of the airfare if your project involves international travel.

While your project may relate to a faculty member’s research, or develop from work within a lab, you must design and execute the project independently. Your faculty member provides advisory assistance.

Applications center on a two-page, single-spaced research grant proposal (1″ margins, Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11), proposals that do not meet these formatting expectations will not be considered by the review committee.  We realize that writing a grant proposal is a new experience, and we have many resources, including one-on-one advising, to help teach you this new skill:

Proposal Writing

Advising Request

How to Apply

Research involving any kind of interaction with living people (Human Subjects) may require a separate application for IRB approval.  You must have submitted your IRB application at the time of your URG application.  You do not need full IRB approval to submit your URG application, but it must be in process.  Your IRB submission number is a required part of your URG application.  If approved for funding, your award is conditional upon your forwarding to the Office of Undergraduate Research documentation from IRB showing their full approval.  If you are unsure whether your project requires IRB approval or not, please reach out to the IRB office for a consultation.  Only the IRB office can determine if you need their review (in other words, your faculty sponsor does not have the authority to determine whether IRB approval is needed).  You will also want to consider the ethical implications of your project, so please review these Principles of Ethical Research.

Once a project is approved for funding, major changes need the approval of the faculty sponsor and the Office of Undergraduate Research. Unapproved changes may result in a breach of the terms of the grant, including repayment of grant funds.  Check with the Office of Undergraduate Research with any questions.

You will submit a two-page final report at the end of the grant period.

What It Isn’t

The grant may not be used for language study, established institutional research programs, or study-abroad programs. Grants cannot be used to pay for internships or participation in volunteer activities.

This program is for new, original research only. Grants cannot be applied retroactively to cover expenses for research already completed.

You may not work at a job or take classes while you do your project.

You receive a single lump-sum living stipend. Do not submit an itemized budget with your application and you do not need to turn in receipts at the end of the summer.


Eight weeks of full time (40 hours/week) research anytime during the summer. Weeks do not necessarily have to be consecutive.

Students receive notification of award approximately four weeks after the deadline.


Conduct your research project wherever you like: on campus or almost anywhere around the country or the world!

When you apply, you can request extra money (half your airfare) for international projects.

Read up on international projects for important travel restriction information.

Faculty Role

Faculty members can help you explore your research interests and develop a good project. You will identify a faculty sponsor/advisor, and this person will help you develop your application materials and oversee your project if you are awarded the grant. Graduate students and post docs are not eligible to be Summer URG sponsors. See How to Meet with Faculty.


Your faculty sponsor/advisor must submit an online endorsement of your research grant proposal within 72 hours after the application deadline. Unendorsed projects will not be considered. Make sure you have given your faculty sponsor enough warning of the deadline, that you have discussed your project with them ahead of time, and that they have a copy of your final proposal draft. Do not leave it to the day before to ask someone to give you an endorsement!

Approval of Final Report

If your application is successful and your project is funded, your faculty sponsor/advisor is required to approve the two-page final report which you will submit after your project is done.

See also: Info for Faculty.


Selection Process

Your research grant proposal will be evaluated by a faculty review committee. The committee looks for quality projects, and they can award as many grants as they want. We call this a merit-based, non-competitive process.

Students typically receive notification of award approximately four weeks after the deadline.

Group Projects

Group projects are allowed. Explain why this project needs to be done with multiple people. Group members collaborate to create a single grant proposal that clearly articulates the different roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of each member.  We recommend that all groups work with an Office of Undergraduate Research advisor.


Can my faculty sponsor/advisor be from another university?
Yes, your faculty advisor can be from another university.  Please contact the URG Coordinator to get access to the application system for this person.
Can a post-doc or graduate student serve as my advisor?
No, a post-doc or graduate student may not serve as your advisor; however, you may find it useful to seek advice and assistance from post-docs or graduate students.
How do I choose a faculty sponsor/advisor?

Identify your research interests and explore by talking with lots of faculty members.  Many faculty have wide-ranging interests and skills, and you may find the ‘perfect’ advisor in an unexpected place.

You may find that you need to revise your proposed project in order to find a professor who will work with you.

If you find that a number of faculty members might be appropriate advisors for your project, carefully consider the specific contours and timeline of your project:

  • Can they help you with the aspects of the research that you believe will be especially difficult or problematic?
  • Will this faculty member be available to assist you throughout the duration of your project?

For more information, see Meet with Faculty.

What percentage of proposals are funded?
Approximately 40-50% of applicants are awarded Summer URGs.
Can I do a Summer URG during a free quarter?

Yes. Called an “off-cycle summer grant,” you can apply via the Academic Year URG program at one of the five deadlines offered during the year.

Rules for Off-cycle Summer URGs

  • You can apply if you have planned a quarter with no classes, but you’ve chosen not to graduate early. You must return to classes after the completion of the project.
  • You must dedicate eight weeks to a full time project (no employment, internship, or volunteer responsibilities are allowed).
  • Off-cycle summer grant proposals are not eligible for revision and resubmission.  The committee will offer a straight yes-or-no decision, as is consistent with the Summer URG program.

Application for an off-cycle summer grant is not to be used for an early-decision for projects that will occur over summer break.

Can I change my project once I’ve started?

Change is a naturally occurring part of the research process; objectives and the means of obtaining them can shift.  If you need to significantly change your project, seek prior approval from the Office of Undergraduate Research and your faculty sponsor/advisor. Unapproved changes may result in a breach of the terms of the grant, including repayment of grant funds.  Check with the Office of Undergraduate Research with any questions.

I got a grant. How do I get paid?
Can I blog my experience?
Yes! We would love to host your blog on our site while you are doing your research!  Check out the current Undergraduate Research Blogs and contact our office if you would like to set up your own.
What do I need to do for the final report?
Your audience is your faculty sponsor/advisor. They will offer the final endorsement required of this grant.  The idea is to paint a clear picture of your grant findings and your experience doing the research.  The report is two pages (no need to get into too much citation or referencing).

Answer these questions:

  • What did I do?
  • What did I discover and learn in that process?
  • What happens next?

Please see URG Final Report.


What is that GEN-LA class on my fall transcript?
Summer URG recipients are automatically registered in GEN-LA 290 for the fall quarter. It is a zero credit course, with the Office of Undergraduate Research coordinator listed as the instructor. At the end of the summer, you will submit a two-page final report. As long as your sponsor/advisor endorses your final report, you will receive an “S” for the course.

If you fail to submit the final report or your faculty member refuses to endorse it, you will receive a “U” and may be required to return the grant funds.

I’ve finished my research project. What are my options for publishing, presenting, or building on my findings?