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Before Applying

The Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) competition provides support up to $1,000 for research or creative activity conducted by UT undergraduates. Fellowships cover costs associated with projects proposed and written by undergraduate student applicants and undertaken with the supervision of a research mentor.


  • Only currently enrolled undergraduates at The University of Texas at Austin may apply. Applicants must be enrolled full-time (minimum of 12 hours) in a bachelor’s degree program or in the PharmD Program. Graduating seniors must provide full-time status certification by the Registrar’s office or academic advisor if enrollment is less than 12 hours at the time of applying.
  • URF awards are given once per student, per academic year, Sept. 1–Aug. 31. A student may re-apply after an unsuccessful application.
  • Award limit is $1,000 per project.
  • Due to limited funds, awards will not be given to prior URF award winners.
  • Applicants must have a minimum overall in-residence UT GPA of 2.5. New transfer students should include a copy of their college transcript, and new freshmen a copy of their high school transcript.
  • Research projects must be independent, i.e., the student has an intellectual stake in the project rather than solely assisting with a professor’s project.
  • Research supervisors must be affiliated with UT Austin as tenured, tenure-track, or professional-track faculty members, or full-time research staff. The supervisor endorse the applicant via letter of recommendation, and will attest to the appropriateness of the student’s research expenses throughout the project and will need Principal Investigator (PI) status in order to request IACUC, IBC, or IRB approvals if applicable.
  • Travel costs (outside Austin), including conference travel, are only eligible if expense can be justified as contributing to the URF research goals and objectives.

Research Approval and Training

If your project will use vertebrate animals (live or dead), human subjects (or data about humans), or any type of biohazardous materials, including recombinant DNA, your faculty supervisor may need approval from the Office of Research Support (ORS). Although final ORS approvals are not needed at the time you submit your application, they are required for disbursement of URF funds and for data collection to take place.

Evaluation Criteria

URF proposals are typically reviewed by faculty in the same field or an adjacent field as the student. Reviewers provide numerical scores for the following criteria:

  • Clarity and thoroughness of presentation (error-free, jargon-free, clearly labeled and explained)
  • Relevance to the applicant’s degree program and career plans
  • Scientific, scholarly, or creative merit of the project
  • Evidence of ability to carry out the project (as shown by accomplishments and letter of support)
  • Budget reasonably reflects the proposed project’s needs, is itemized and justified

The Office of Undergraduate Research provides reviewer feedback (if any was provided) for applicants whose proposals are not accepted.

Proposals must adhere to the following page limit and formatting requirements:

  • Research proposal: no more than four pages, 12-point font, including references; a typical URF bibliography is 1/5 or 1/4 of a page long. There is no set limit or length requirement. (See proposal template)
  • Curriculum Vitae/Resume: one page.
  • Faculty supervisors must submit a one-page letter of recommendation reflecting a strong knowledge of the student’s background and full confidence of project completion; letters are submitted through the URF submission portal

The Office of Undergraduate Research may prioritize funding based on various criteria including expected date of graduation, GPA, the number of students supervised by a professor, as well as the disciplinary makeup of the application pool.


There are two opportunities to apply during the academic year; one in the fall, another in spring. Refer to the URF website for up-to-date information on deadlines. Decisions are typically announced three to four weeks after the deadline. URFs expire Aug. 31at the conclusion of the fiscal year in which they were made, unless the student graduates earlier, in which case the fellowship expires on UT’s official commencement date. All funds not spent by the expiration date revert back to the URF fund.

Applications must be submitted online.

Once the student submits all of their materials, the application portal sends an automated message to the faculty supervisor requesting the rec letter and some additional information. Applications are not complete until the faculty materials are received. Students are therefore encouraged to submit their materials several days in advance of the deadline, and to confirm that their supervisor submits all necessary information.

URF recipients must send a brief end-of-project report to uresearch@austin.utexas.edu, due a month after the end of the fiscal year (in September).

Other URF FAQs

  • For more tips on writing a research proposal, you can ask a librarian, consult a research proposal writing guide, or ask your research mentor for help.
  • If you don’t yet have a mentor or supervisor for your project, you should attend an OUR info session, refer to our online guide to connecting with research projects, search the Eureka database, or consult the Find a Researcher website.
  • The URF process is competitive—about half of the proposals are funded, some only partially funded (either due to limitations in available funding or due to budget expenses that are not allowed).
  • “Independent research” is eligible for the URF, which means that the thesis for your project originated from questions posed by you. In other words, you are responsible for the project’s inception, development, and conclusions. Sometimes such projects grow out of a research assistantship under a professor, but unlike a typical assistantship, the student has the primary intellectual stake in an independent project.
  • You may apply for support of your project if it is part of an independent research course, such as an honors thesis course, or another upper-division independent research course. The URF cannot support study abroad programs.
  • Multiple students in the same lab, or under the same supervisor, can apply for a URF, but each URF application must include a unique, independent project, and supervisors must rank the projects in their rec letters.
  • The proposal template is designed to help you structure your proposal. In instances where this format does not apply, such as in a fine arts project, feel free to use a different format, but make sure your objectives are clearly stated, and the process for accomplishing your objectives is well defined.