A mentor points to a computer screen while standing next to an undergraduate researcher.

Undergraduate Research Awards

Undergraduate Research Awards (UGRAs) are $1,000 scholarships provided to undergraduate students pursuing original research or creative projects under the general guidance of a research mentor. The deadline to apply for an UGRA is in October for spring awards and in March for summer or fall awards.

Student application deadline for Spring 2022: Thursday, October 28, 2021, 11:59 pm.

Student eligibility:

  • A student must be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at KU during the award period 
  • Undergraduate students in any major can apply.
  • Students receiving fall or spring awards must be enrolled full-time during the award period.  Exceptions to this rule can be made, for example, when the applicant is studying abroad during the semester or only needs a few more credits to graduate.  To request an exception, email us at cur@ku.edu. Summer award recipients are not required to enroll during the summer term.

Project eligibility:

  • UGRAs are awarded to students conducting semester-long independent projects that constitute work that is original and substantive given the standards of the discipline. The UGRAs are not intended, for example, to support trips to workshops or the like; something new has to be discovered or created.
  • Each UGRA proposal must be sponsored by a KU affiliated faculty member or approved mentor who has read and approved the proposal and who agrees to oversee the project.

Student Application Materials: due October 28, 2021, 11:59 PM CST.

Mentor Reference: due November 1, 2021, 11:59 PM

  • When a student turns in their UGRA application, it will automatically generate an email to their research mentor from scholarships@ku.edu with a link to the mentor reference form for that application.  Mentors cannot fill out a reference form before the student starts their application. Mentors will need to create an account in the Academicworks system in order to complete the reference form. If a mentor would like to know whether their student waived or retained their right to see their reference form, please email us at cur@ku.edu and we can let you know.
  • Note: it is the student's responsibility to ensure that the mentor reference form is filled out by the deadline.  We recommend that you give your mentor at least 2 weeks notice of the reference form deadline and make sure your mentor knows that the link for the reference will be sent to them once you fill out your application.

Both the Student Application Form and the Mentor Reference must be received in order to be considered for funding.  We do not accept late student proposals for the UGRAs.  If you experience technical difficulties in filling out your UGRA application online, email your final UGRA proposal to cur@ku.edu by the application deadline; in this case, we can work with you the following day to troubleshoot any technical problems so you can complete your application.

All applicants will be notified about the status of their application after final UGRA funding decisions are made, before the last day of finals.

UGRAs are evaluated based on the merit of the applicant's proposal and a recommendation from a faculty member who is familiar with the applicant and will mentor the proposed project. Reviewers utilize either the Research Project Rubric (.docx) or Creative Project Rubric (.docx), depending on the project type. Applicants will be informed of award decisions by the end of the semester in which they apply.

You will receive your UGRA scholarship through the Financial Aid distribution process. If you owe KU for any charges (e.g. tuition, required campus fees, etc.), this financial aid will be applied towards the amount due.  If a credit balance is created within your account, the credit balance will be refunded to you through direct deposit or check. Students receiving need-based financial aid, such as loans, should be aware that this scholarship may alter your loan or other aid amounts. International students may have required taxes taken out of your award as part of the normal KU scholarship disbursement process.  If you have questions about how this scholarship may affect your Financial Aid, please contact your Financial Aid Counselor.

1. Undergraduate Research Contract:

Recipients of the UGRAs are expected to devote considerable time during this award period to carrying out the research proposed in their application.  Because research is different in each discipline, we rely on the student and mentor to agree on the time commitment and progress that is appropriate for an UGRA project.  To receive the award, each student and their mentor are required to work together to complete an Undergraduate Research Contract.  This Contract will clearly delineate the expectations that the student and mentor have of one another and will include a list of milestones and their anticipated completion date. Research Contracts are filled out at the beginning of the award period and revisited at the end of the semester.

2. UGRA Check-in Meeting:

Center staff will contact UGRA recipients during the award period with times for a required check-in meeting.  At these meetings, UGRA recipients will update each other on the progress of their projects and reflect on what they have learned through the process. 

3. Presentation of Projects:

UGRA recipients are required to present the results of their research and creative project on KU's campus within one year of receiving their award.  Presentations must be on KU's campus or in the Lawrence area, such as the Summer Poster SessionFall Research Showcase, or the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research, a departmental presentation or event, or an art show at a local gallery.  Exceptions to the presentation requirement can be made, such as when presenting a project could create patent issues, conflict with larger research collaborations, etc.

4. If relevant, students should complete the following:

  • Student International Travel Registry: Students traveling abroad to conduct research are required to register through Study Abroad & Global Engagement regardless of whether they are enrolled in course credit. For more information, visit Study Abroad & Global Engagement's webpage about the Travel Registry.
  • Human Subjects Committee Lawrence (HSCL) approval: Students completing research with human subjects must obtain approval of their project via the Human Subjects Committee of Lawrence (HSCL) prior to beginning their work with human subjects.  For more information, visit the HSCL website, call 785-864-7429 (ext. #1), or email HSCL@ku.edu
  • Environmental, Health, and Safety Blackboard courses (Lab Safety 101, Art Safety 101, etc): Instructions for enrollment are available on the EHS website.

Proposal writing:

While the idea for the project might come from the mentor’s own research agenda in some disciplines, students should take ownership over the writing of the UGRA proposal.  The writing should reflect the student’s own understanding of the project and how it relates to other scholarship in the field.  It is expected that the mentor act as proposal-writing guide rather than an editor: mentors should read drafts of the student’s proposal and give comments, but should not directly change wording in a student’s proposal.  This approach ensures that the student takes intellectual ownership over the project and that the proposal accurately reflects the student’s level of understanding of the proposed work.

Mentor recommendation:

Mentors fill out a short reference form for the UGRAs rather than a full letter of reference.  Once your student fills out the online application, you will be sent an email from scholarships@ku.edu with a link to the mentor reference form.  Please fill this out by the mentor reference deadline.  If you would like to know whether your student waived or retained their right to see their reference form, please email us at cur@ku.edu and we can let you know.

Award period:

If your student receives an award, they will ask you to help fill out an Undergraduate Research Contract to establish clear expectations and a timeline for the semester. 

Mentor eligibility:

All tenure-track KU faculty are eligible to sponsor student UGRA applications, as are many KU employees who have expertise in an area of research.  If you are a KU employee who is not a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, please fill out our Research Mentor Designation form before your student applies for an UGRA.  Graduate students are not eligible to be the primary sponsor of an UGRA.