Frequently Asked Questions


Can I get both a stipend and academic credit for my project?

If you decide to do a URA project for credit (which is arranged through your department, not the Center), you are not eligible for a stipend. You are, however, eligible for an expense award up to $600. If you apply for a stipend, you are also eligible for the expense award. The SURF program offers a $3500 stipend, with the expectation that you will be working on your project full-time during the summer. As a SURF recipient you are also eligible for up to $600 in expenses, but you may not receive academic credit for your work.

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Where do I find a faculty mentor?

There are a number of ways to get help in identifying a mentor. Staff members at the Center will be happy to talk with you about your interests and about potential mentors and put you in contact with the undergraduate research liaison for your department. You can also ask a favorite professor, your advisor, or department chair. If you already know of a faculty member whose research interests you, talk directly to him or her. Finally, take a look at the website for your department; many websites list the research interests of individual faculty members.

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Do I have to work on the same research as my mentor?

Not necessarily. While some students apply for support to work as part of a laboratory or other team doing research directly linked to that of a faculty member, others are interested in doing a more independent project. As long as your faculty mentor is sufficiently knowledgeable of and interested in your topic—and your plan is reasonable and clearly described—you should be able to pursue your project.

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Does my research have to be “scientific?”

No. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply to the Center for support of their research, scholarly, and creative projects. Take a look at the profiles of former participants and see for yourself the variety of fields represented.

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What is the time commitment involved in doing a Center-supported project?

It depends. SURF recipients are expected to spend ten weeks doing full-time research; however, the summer may in fact be part of a longer period of research (or scholarly or creative activity). Similarly, as a URA recipient you will undoubtedly spend at least a semester on your project—just as you would a regular course—but in fact you may be involved in a project that extends beyond a semester. Talk with a Center staff member if you have questions about your particular situation.

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Can I receive support for senior thesis research?

Yes, many students receive support for work that is preparation for or part of their senior thesis project.

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I’m a senior. Can I apply for a SURF award?

One of the requirements of SURF is that you will be returning to campus for at least one semester after completion of the program (in part because another requirement is that you share your experience and findings in an appropriate forum—often on campus). So if you will be a first semester senior in the spring semester, you can apply to participate in SURF during the summer. If you will be graduating in May, you are not eligible for SURF and might instead want to consider applying for an URA.

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How competitive is the application process?

The Center does not fund a set number of projects or have quotas for projects from different areas of study. If you follow the proposal guidelines, write a clear proposal for a “doable” project, meet the eligibility requirements, and have the strong support of a faculty mentor, your chances of being supported are excellent.

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Where can I present the results of my project?

Sharing your experience and findings is a valuable part of the research, scholarly, or creative process. You can do this on campus in a department forum, in a class, or at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring. Depending on your project, you may choose to give an oral presentation, be part of a poster session, or stage a performance. You may also want to submit a report of your project to Inquiry Journal, UNH’s online undergraduate research journal. Some students present their findings at conferences or professional meetings off campus—and receive a Research Presentation Award from the Center for some of their expenses. IROPers participate in a special symposium held during the fall after their return.

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What is the difference between IROP and SURF Abroad?

Both IROP and SURF Abroad are international research programs requiring preparation to engage the culture and language of the host country in tandem with disciplinary preparation.

IROP requires the student to make the longest active commitment to the program (from October of the junior year—or, in the case of early admission, April of the sophomore year) through the IROP Symposium in October of the senior year.  IROP grants provide full support for travel, food, and lodging in addition to research expenses, but no additional student stipend; grant amounts vary according to the budget submitted.

SURF Abroad grants require a shorter active commitment to the program (from January of the junior year—or, in the case of a spring study abroad semester in the summer host country, March) through the end of the research summer.  SURF Abroad grants offer a fixed stipend of $3500 plus research support up to $600.

IROP grants are NOT available to students who

  1. are studying abroad during spring semester in the country where the summer research will take place;
  2. are  foreign nationals  knowing well the language and culture of their home country where the research will take place; or
  3. will not return to the U.S. to participate in the October IROP Symposium.

Students who meet any of these three criteria should apply for a SURF Abroad grant.

SURF Abroad is also the choice for students who for any reason cannot meet the earlier October IROP application deadline (the SURF Abroad deadline is in January—or March if the student is spending spring semester in the same country where s/he will conduct summer research).

All applicants considering international undergraduate research should contact the International Research Coordinator (georgeann.murphy@unh.edu) to determine the appropriate program fit.

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