Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Undergraduate Research Fellowships (URFs) are student support awards intended to facilitate a specific student’s participation with a specific faculty/staff member (mentor) on a defined project.  Funding amounts and suggested workload are:

  • Academic Year (AY): $2,500 ($1250/semester), suggested workload of ~10 hours per week, enrollment in URES 3995 which will become a 2-credit hour course in the 2024-2025 academic year

  • Summer: $3000, suggested workload of ~20 hours per week

Starting the Application Process

Applications are meant to be developed as a collaborative process by the mentor and student pair. 

Some parts are to be written as a team and some parts are written individually (see below for more detail). We highly recommend working together prior to submitting your application and having the mentor enter all responses with text you have developed together.

Each application will be submitted online through Workflow. *

Applicants should prepare their entire application before the submission process (responses can be copied and pasted into the form), as the Workflow form must be submitted in one sitting.  These cannot be saved for later completion. 

*Applications sent via email will not be accepted unless there is a specific need and prior arrangements have been made. 

Due Dates

OUR URF applications are due midway through the Spring semester each year. Precise dates will be published by the start of winter break of the preceding semester. OUR encourages mentor and mentee pairs to watch for these dates and contact OUR with any questions.

Late applications will NOT be accepted. For extenuating circumstances, please contact OUR in advance or as soon as possible.

Eligibility

Applications must name both an eligible mentor and an eligible mentee, according to all of the criteria listed below. Failure to meet all criteria will result in an application’s automatic denial.

Mentors. A mentor is considered eligible only if they:

  • Maintain an active appointment as a Faculty or Professional Scientific and Staff member at the University of Iowa.
  • Apply for only one OUR Undergraduate Research Fellow per session.
    • “Session” refers to the summer OR academic year.  One application may be submitted for the summer session and one may be submitted for the academic year. 
  • Submit an application for each session for which you are seeking funding.
    • Summer and Academic Year sessions are awarded based on separate applications.  Each application will only be considered for the session marked.
    • Applications for continued projects should show expected progress.  An academic year application that continues from a summer application should not be an exact copy of the summer application.

Students.  A student is considered eligible only if they:

  • Are registered for the upcoming Fall semester as full time, degree-seeking, University of Iowa undergraduates.
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA and maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the funding period.
  • Apply for only one OUR Fellowship per session.
    • “Session” refers to the summer or academic year. Students may have both a summer and an academic year URF.
  • SUMMER FELLOWSHIPS: Students applying for summer awards must not hold other stipend-based summer undergraduate opportunities, including BSURF, BSSURP, SROP, etc. 
    • Hourly-based pay for time spent outside of the Fellowship hours is acceptable (i.e. ISA, pay from research group).

*Note: Fellowships are disbursed as scholarships. Students who have met the cost of attendance will not receive additional money past their estimated cost of attendance.

OUR Fellowship Program

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee. OUR instructs this committee to give high priority to meaningful student experiences, both in the actual work done and the mentoring received. Equal weight is given to both student and mentor pieces. As Fellowships emphasize experience/training, and OUR does not have expertise in most disciplines, the scientific/creative merit of a project is not under review.

Strong applications will:

  • Fully engage the student in all stages of the project – contemplation, design, execution, analysis, and presentation.
  • Include regular opportunities for mentor-student interaction.
    • OUR recommends least one face-to-face meeting per week. Proposals indicating that the mentor and student will be in different physical locations, limiting in-person contact, will receive low priority.
  • Include a feasible timeline.
    • OUR understands that research and creative work are fluid.  Unexpected issues may cause delays or changes in direction.  These do not need to be incorporated into the application’s timeline or reported to OUR.
  • Show student's strong understanding of the project and its significance to themselves and the broader community.
  • Convey excitement and collaboration from both the mentor and mentee.

  • URFs cannot be deferred or transferred.
  • Off-campus projects will not be funded UNLESS:
    •  Both mentor and student are in the same location off-campus, OR
    • Off-campus work is only a small minority of the project’s timeline.

OUR reserves the right to automatically deny an application without review if application instructions are not properly followed. OUR will not contact mentors for resubmission. The following list details reasons that OUR will automatically deny an application without review: 

  • Either a mentor or student is listed on more than one URF Application.
    • Mentors may be primary on only one application, but may still be secondary on another. If a mentor is listed as the primary mentor on multiple applications, the applications will be automatically denied.
    • Students also cannot be listed on more than one application. 
  • Application pieces #6-8 (as listed above) are identical on both a Summer and Academic Year Fellowship.  OUR Fellowships are meant for training and experience. Expected progression should be reflected in these pieces.
  • A mentee’s GPA is below the 3.0 cut-off. Except in extenuating circumstances, OUR automatically denies these applications.

OUR Fellowship funding is disbursed by OUR during the second week of each semester.  Summer funds are transferred in one lump sum. Academic Year funds are split between the two semesters – half is disbursed in the fall and half in the spring.

OUR transfers each student’s funds directly into the student's UI account as a refundable scholarship. The UI will first use the funding to cover any remaining UBill balance. The rest will be refunded to the student electronically as a direct deposit. Students who have scholarships meeting the estimated cost of attendance will not receive additional funds. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for questions regarding this policy.

Once disbursed, OUR has no further control of how funding is delivered. Issues with refunds should be directed to the Billing Office or the Office of Financial Aid. OUR can answer if/when/where funds were disbursed.

OUR retains the right to cancel awarded Fellowships if either the student or mentor withdraws from the Fellowship or fails to complete its requirements. Please contact OUR immediately for concerns regarding completion of or adherence to requirements.

Summer Fellows: OUR enrolls all Summer Fellows in course number URES:3996 for transcript recognition of URF participation for each semester. This is a zero-hour course graded R (“registered”) or W (“withdrew”).  No extra tuition, fees, or costs will be incurred by the student. OUR submits the grades for all Fellows. Mentors have no grading responsibility other than to make OUR aware if the student fails to fully participate in the Fellowship. Failure to complete OUR Fellowship requirements will result in a “W” grade for the course. Students will be contacted before a “W” grade is given.

Academic Year Fellows: OUR enrolls all Academic Year Fellows in course number URES:3995 for 2 credit hours per semester. This course is graded S/U. Mentors have no grading responsibility other than to make OUR aware if the student fails to fully participate in the Fellowship. Failure to complete OUR Fellowship requirements will result in a “U” grade for the course.

OUR Fellowships begin on the first day of each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) and end on the last day of each semester (Friday before Finals week). Fellows are expected to work an average of 5-6 hours per week during the academic year (not including finals week or Thanksgiving/Spring Break - 15 weeks per semester or a total of approximately 80 hours over the course of the semester) or 20 hours per week during the summer (10 weeks, or a total of 200 hours over the entire course of the summer). OUR does not require Fellows to report or log hours. Students are solely responsible for tracking their hours.

*Note: Hours can be broken down however the Fellow and mentor choose. OUR is not responsible for monitoring if a student chooses to work more hours during some weeks and fewer hours during other weeks.

Occasionally mentors or students need to withdraw their participation due to unforeseen circumstances. In such scenarios, both the Fellow and the mentor are expected to contact OUR before the beginning of the semester. If only one party contacts OUR, OUR will follow up with the other party.

Withdrawals made prior to the beginning of a semester

If either the mentor or the student decides to withdraw from the Fellowship before the beginning of the semester, OUR will consider the Fellowship to have been cancelled for both parties. No courses will be registered or funding disbursed for the student. 

Student withdrawal or failure to complete the Fellowship after the beginning of a semester

If a student decides to withdraw or fails to complete the Fellowship, and OUR is not informed before the start of the semester:

  • The student will need to fill out appropriate paperwork to drop URES:3995 OR the student may incur a “W” for URES:3995.
  • Disbursed funds may be revoked.

Students who fail to complete OUR Fellowship are at risk of the above penalties. Fellows have “failed to complete the Fellowship” if they cease to participate in the assigned project.

Mentor withdrawal or failure to complete the fellowship after the beginning of a semester

If OUR is not informed of the mentor’s decision to withdraw before the start of the semester:

  • The student may need to fill out the appropriate paperwork to drop URES:3995 OR the student may incur a “W” for URES:3995.
  • Disbursed funds may be revoked.

Because students are often dependent of Fellowship funds, OUR prefers not to penalize the student if a mentor withdraws. Please contact OUR to discuss possible solutions.

Future fellowship applications

Withdrawal from a Fellowship does not hurt a student’s or mentor’s future chances of receiving an OUR Fellowship UNLESS evidence suggests the withdrawal was purposefully withheld from OUR. Failure to complete a Fellowship may negatively affect future Fellowship application results.

Acceptance of an OUR Fellowship constitutes an agreement with OUR to fulfill the following program requirements:

  • Completion of a Mentorship Agreement by both the mentor and student. 
    • Agreement form will be sent to mentors and students upon notification of funding.
    • Funds will NOT be disbursed until OUR receives the signed Mentorship Agreement via email as a PDF or Word document.
  • Student participation in Student Mentee Training during the funding period (summer only).
  • Presentation of the funding period’s work at either of OUR’s research festivals
    • Fall (FURF – November)
    • Spring (SURF – April)
  • Completion of any questionnaires sent by OUR during the funding period.
    • Maximum of two during a funding period (Academic Year or Summer)

Questions?

Unforeseen circumstances do arise, and OUR will do its best to work on a solution with mentors or students.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.