May 12, 2017

External Sources – Funding Opportunities

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities are increasingly being supported by funding agencies. Grants, Fellowships, and other opportunities are available both to faculty and to students directly.  For many funding agencies, including undergraduate research and other educational opportunities strengthens proposals.

Please consult with Bethany Usher in OSCAR when writing your proposals. OSCAR can support your grant proposals by writing a supporting statement that outlines our institutional resources, or work with you to put specific support options in your proposal.  We offer professional development opportunities, presentation forums, and other activities to supplement your students' research project.

Mason's Office of Sponsored Programs will also help as you develop proposals.  Please contact them as soon as you are considering submitting a grant application.

If you have additional resources you would like us to add, please email us at

External Funding Sources for Faculty

  • NSF-compressed-for-webNational Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Experiences for Undergraduates
    The National Science Foundation review criteria have only two components: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, and according to the 2013 guidelines, both must be addressed in all proposals.  Undergraduate research is an excellent way to extend the Broader Impacts of your research.The Research Experiences for Undergraduates funds two different types of undergrad research, and is a cross-cutting program, available to PIs in all NSF-supported disciplines.1. Research Supplements are small funds attached to most other NSF proposals that specifically fund undergraduate researchers.  Please consider adding these opportunities to all NSF projects.2. Sites grants are larger research projects that support a cohort of undergraduates engaged in the project, usually over a summer.  Mason would benefit from more of these.
  •     neh_logo_bannerNational Endowment for the Humanities

While the NEH does not a specific program to support undergraduate research, two specific programs are available for faculty who want to include undergraduate research into their own research or teaching.

  • 1. Digital Humanities grants - for "innovative digital-humanities projects that represent the next generation of advances in humanities research, education, preservation, access, and public programming.
  • 2. Enduring Questions grants - for "faculty members in the teaching and development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This question-driven course will encourage undergraduates and teachers to grapple with a fundamental concern of human life addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day."
  • CREATE_2Teach C.R.E.A.T.E

    Teach C.R.E.A.T.E workshops are held each summer, funded by NSF. They are fulled-paid week-long workshops for faculty who want to use "new teaching approach that uses intensive analysis of primary literature to demystify and humanize research science for undergraduates." The deadline for Summer 2013 is February 1, 2013.

  • NIH Undergraduate Scholarship ProgramNational Institutes of Health"NIH" is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world," and you can learn more about their grant programs.  Undergraduates can be funded to assist on most types of research grants, and including undergraduates are part of a research plan is helpful on smaller grants and those targeted at new investigators.  Contact Mason's Office of Sponsored Programs for help in developing a competitive NIH proposal.
  • ACS-PRFAmerican Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund ACCS's Petroleum Research Fund "supports fundamental research directly related to petroleum or fossil fuels," and has a longstanding commitment to support undergraduates.

For Students

There are regular opportunities for students to be funded to participate in research and creative activities.  Some of these sources are for students who want experience doing research on larger, established projects, and other for students who have original ideas that they want to have supported. Most have only one deadline per year.

Student Grants and Funding Opportunities
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars Program at Mason

    Mason's Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR) supports undergraduate projects through the competitive Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.  Proposals are accepted for each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer), and support ranges from $1500-$5000 per project.

  • Patriot Green FundPatriot Green Fund

    Mason's Office of Sustainability offers Patriot Green Fund Research grants to students (undergraduate and graduate) who want to conduct a research project related to sustainability. Awards vary, but usually do not exceed $20,000 (much smaller projects are encouraged). Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

  • NSF-compressed-for-webNational Science Foundation Summer Sites programs

    If you want to work on science, engineering, math, technology, or social science (including archaeology, anthropology, sociology, or psychology) research project over the summer, and be paid, look at the National Science Foundation Summer Sites program. In these competitive programs, groups of about 10 undergraduate students from across the country come to a research site (sometimes another college, often a field location) and get paid (rates vary, but usually include travel, housing, and a substantial perdiem). Search for sites at this website.  Most projects are posted by November, and applications are due in January or February for the following summer.

  • National-GeographicYoung Explorers Grants from National Geographic

    "Young Explorers Grants offer opportunities to individuals ages 18-25 to pursue research, conservation, and exploration-related projects." Fields supported include anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, conservation, ecology, geography, geology, marine science, photography, storytelling, etc. Grants usually vary between $2000 and $5000, and are accepted on a rolling basis.

  • NIH Undergraduate Scholarship ProgramNIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program

    The National Institutions of Health offers several programs for undergraduates.

    "The National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program offers competitive scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science health-related research."  The program pays  up to $20000 each year for tuition and education expenses. Students are required to participate in at least one summer research project at NIH (paid), and to work at NIH for at least one year after graduate (not a bad deal!). Students can apply at any point during their undergraduate career (not while in high school). The application is available in early January, and is due at the end of February.

    NIH's Summer Internship Program is a highly competitive program that matches undergraduate students with NIH-funded research labs across the country. Students earn a monthly stipend for their participation.

  • Smithsonian Institution Internships and Research ProgramsMason-Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is really a collection of museum, mostly in the DC area but also in New York, Costa Rica, and other locations. Almost all offer opportunities for internships and research opportunities for undergraduates (paid and unpaid). Because of Mason's location close to many of these, there are opportunities to work with Smithsonian museums during the academic year (less competition) as well as the summer. Start your search by looking at the Office of Fellowships and Internships website, and then move to the specific museum.And remember that Mason and the Smithsonian collaborate on the School of Conservation in Front Royal, and you can apply for a URSP to work at that amazing location.

  • Amgen logoAmgen Scholars Summer Research Opportunities Amgen supports paid undergraduate research opportunities in a variety of biology and medical areas for rising juniors and seniors at their ten host universities. Students are usually provided with travel to the institution, summer stipend, and travel to the end of summer Amgen symposium.  The sites also offer career-related support. This program is highly competitive!  Applications vary by host institution, but are all due in February for participation the following summer.
  • Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of ResearchSigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research are available to undergraduate and graduate students "to support scientific investigation in any field," and support equipment, supplies, and travel to a research site. Grants usually range from $400-$1000 (higher amounts are available in astronomy and vision research). Applications are due on March 15th and October 15th of each year.Although you do not have to be a member of Sigma Xi to apply, members have a higher acceptance rate.  You can contact Mason's Sigma Xi chapter at to apply.

  • cold-spring-harborCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program

Sophomores and juniors in interested in biology, cancer, and genomic research can apply to participate in the highly selective Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program. Twenty-five students are selected to work on a research project over the summer, and live in a community of research scientists.  Students earn a $5000 summer stipend, and are provided with room and board. Applications are due in mid-January of each year for the following summer.

  • HHMI Janelia Undergraduate Research ScholarsHHMI Janelia Undergraduate Research Scholars

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute campus at Janelia Farms has a highly competitive summer undergraduate research program for rising juniors and seniors to conduct biomedical research.  Students are provided with housing and transportation, and are paid a $4500 stipend for 10 weeks of research.

  • Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak Ridge National Laboratory

Undergraduate students are invited to apply for science and technology research opportunities at  Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  There are several programs available to undergraduates, including  HERE, TECH, and SULI.Dates and funding vary by program.