May 12, 2017

Summer Impact Grants

The Office of Undergraduate Education supports summer team projects based around a central theme, question, or problem, related to the Mason Impact. Projects are run by at least two faculty members and include from four to ten undergraduate students. Faculty propose a topic and structure in the fall. Accepted projects recruit undergraduate participants in the spring. Faculty use the first week to give the students an academic orientation to the program, and the second to help the students develop individual or team projects. Students work, with faculty mentorship, on the project for the remaining weeks of the summer, and present their results at the Summer Celebration of Student Scholarship.

Proposals for summer 2018 are now closed. See below for details regarding Summer Impact Grants and the timelines for submission and execution.

Learn more about the nine 2018 Summer Impact Grants here.

See previously funded Summer Impact Grants (starting from 2017) here.

Starting 2017, we re-imagined the Project Scholarship Development grants as the Summer Impact Grants. See the new description here. The archived information about the earlier forms of the grants is found here.

Summer Team Project and URSP students present their research at the 2017 Summer Celebration of Student Scholarship


  • Increase student participation in undergraduate research, scholarship, global, civic engagement, entrepreneurial, or creative projects
  • Promote interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty, and faculty and students
  • Prepare faculty to apply for external funding (NSF REU Sites, NEH, NIH, and others)

Examples of projects

  • Fieldwork
  • Production/play
  • Archival study
  • Focused laboratory project
  • Model/Prototypes/MIX development
  • Community-based research or collaboration
  • Consultation with business or non-profit
  • Business plan
  • Digital media
  • Curriculum
  • White paper
Two male college students standing at the front of a class of elementary school students. One of the male college students is holding a jar filled with water and river mussels.

Students working with the Potomac Environmental Research & Education Center Summer Impact Grant (PEREC) Summer Impact Grant teaching Ft. Belvoir Elementary School students during Water Quality Day.

Preferred project characteristics

  • Multidisciplinary/Interdisciplinary projects (with faculty from more than one department, school, or college)
  • Students can work individually or within teams.
  • Projects that have the potential to be extended into the school year for credit. OSCAR can offer sections of UNIV391/UNIV491 Individualized Scholarly Research for this purpose, or departments can offer Inquiry/RS courses for this purpose.
  • Projects that serve as pilots for project-based courses
  • Projects that serve as pilots for external funding (NSF, NEH, etc)
  • Projects that have a plan to recruit and include a diverse team of students: under-represented, variety of majors, novice as well as experienced.


  • November 3, 2017: Deadline for Project Proposals
  • December 19, 2017: Notification of Acceptances
  • January 1-March 15, 2018: Recruit students (OSCAR will help)
  • April 16, 2018: Notification to accepted students
  • May 28, 2018: Projects begin
  • May 28-June 7, 2018: Introductory weeks/bootcamps
  • June 11-August 3, 2018: Student work on projects
  • August 3, 2018: Summer Celebration of Student Scholarship, student presentations


  • Faculty can earn up to $3000 for the summer
  • Students earn $4000 stipend (same as URSP intensive) for full-time summer participation.
  • Faculty may request up to $4000 in materials or travel to support the project.
  • Need at least one faculty mentor who is a tenured, tenure-track, or term faculty member. Other mentors can be tenure-stream faculty, graduate students, administrative faculty, or adjunct faculty.
  • Sample budget per team (will vary with projected number of students and supplies need):
    • $6000 faculty (2)
    • $20000 students (5)
    • $4000 in supplies & travel


Your proposal should include the following:

  • Title for your Summer Impact Project
  • Names and contact information for participating faculty. One should be identified as the primary contact
  • A project summary, in 200 words or less, that describes the project in a way that is accessible to a general audience. This summary will be used to recruit students and promote the project if it is funded.
  • One pdf document of no more than four pages that addresses the following questions:
    • What is the academic context of the project? Explicitly state the central theme, research question, or problem.
    • What types of student projects do you envision, and what types of products the students will produce? Include a description of how the students will meet the four expected student learning outcomes.
    • Does the Project have the potential to be supported through a community or corporate partnership, or by external grant funding? If so, please describe.
    • What are the roles of the faculty mentors in this Project?
    • What is your summer timeline? Please be as detailed as possible.
    • OSCAR can provide up to $4000 for materials or travel to support the project (see Financial webpage for full details). Please provide a detailed budget and justification for needed personnel, materials or travel.

Last year, we received an overwhelming number of proposals, and the best designed were selected.

Sample Schedule

  • Week 1, M-F: Morning meetings, readings and exercises in afternoons
  • Week 2, M-F: Morning meetings, Formulation and writing research plans for individual projects
  • Week 3, M-F: Morning meetings, skill development, beginning research project
  • Weeks 4-8: Monday morning planning meeting, Monday-Thursday project work, Friday morning professional development/lab meetings/journal clubs/research project and troubleshooting. Friday lunch and afternoon - speaker and/or field trip
  • Week 9: Finalizing project, preparing research posters (same schedule as mid-weeks)
  • Week 10: Additional work on the project, preparing for next semester and next steps, presenting at Celebration of Student Scholarship on August 3rd, 2018.


What will students get out of participating in a Summer Team Project?

We expect that students will have the opportunity to learn to work both independently and part of a team on an authentic project while earning pay. They should be prepared for research opportunities, jobs, and graduate school as a result of participating in the project. Students who present their projects at professional venues are welcome to apply for (and have priority funding) the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund.

Specifically, students in the OSCAR Summer Team Projects will be expected to contribute to the creation an original scholarly project and communicate knowledge from their project, defined by meeting or exceeding "Proficiency" (from the Students as Scholars Program Rubric) on the outcomes:

  • Articulate and refine a focused and manageable question, problem, or challenge that may contribute to the field.
  • Clearly communicate the results of the project through publishing, presenting or performing, consistently employing conventions appropriate to the audience and context.
  • In consultation with a faculty mentor, design a project that has the potential to make contributions to knowledge, appropriately adapt research or design strategies as the project progresses, and complete the project.

At least 1 of the following methods outcomes:

  • Consistently choose effective methods for exploring an inquiry, and address advantages and limitations of those methods.
  • Acquire information or data using effective, well-designed strategies; consistently use appropriate criteria to judge the credibility of the evidence.
  • Consistently analyze or synthesize new and previous evidence to make important contributions to knowledge.

And may include any of the following

  • Consistently make accurate distinctions among personal beliefs, opinions, claims, and evidence.
  • Consistently identify relevant ethical issues; demonstrates attention to ethical principles at all stages of the inquiry process.
  • Articulate an understanding of the value of research and creative inquiry to individuals and communities in local, civic, professional, or global contexts. Consistently identify and explain implications of, and questions raised by, the project.
  • Explain relevant pathways for the dissemination of scholarship.  Consistently place the inquiry within a scholarly context and be able to make explicit connections between own and others' work.
What will faculty get out of participating in a Summer Team Project?

Faculty will have the opportunity to work with a colleague and a hand-picked group of students on a question, challenge, or topic, of personal and professional interest. The students can you advance your research, investigate a potential new avenue, or explore a data source you haven't been able to tackle. You are welcome to publish or present the results of the students' projects (with their co-authorship) beyond Mason. And, you'll receive a stipend for your efforts! You may even want to develop an RS course based on your summer experience.

OSCAR will meet with the accepted faculty in January (to go over the program goals and student recruitment), and in April or May to go over the project timelines share resources for a successful project. We will also be available to help with proposals for external funding based on the projects.

What if I'm not sure how many students will participate?

You should budget for the maximum number of students you want to work with over the summer. Each Project must have a minimum of 4 students (and 2 faculty). Any fewer than that will have to compete instead for the Summer Intensive URSP. There can be a maximum of 10 students on any Project.

How do we apply?

You need to identify your project and your faculty partners first. Then, design your Summer Impact Project. The Summer Impact Projects proposals are due November 3rd, 2017, through this link (see above for details).

How are proposals reviewed?

Members of the Mason Impact Leadership Council and Student Scholarly Activities Committee provide reviews to the Faculty and Curricular Activities Committee. FCA members review all the proposals and meet to choose the grantees. Proposals are rated on the following:

  • Having a clearly defined theme, research question, or problem
  • Including a plan to recruit diverse students
  • Academic merit and significant impact of project
  • Feasible summer timeline
  • Feasible student projects and products
  • Attention to the student learning outcomes
  • Potential to extend beyond summer
  • Existing or potential outside partners or funding

Last year's proposals were very competitive and the selected projects very rated highly in all areas.

How can I recruit students?

OSCAR can help, but you are responsible for choosing your students. Ways to recruit students include:

  • Sending fliers to faculty teaching related courses
  • Sending information to departmental listservs in related areas
  • Talking to interested students!
  • Using social media to recruit.
  • Fliers in the JC and student buildings

OSCAR will do the following:

  • Post a description of all accepted projects on the student page with a link to your application
  • Post the projects as positions on HireMason
  • Tweet the projects.