April 25, 2017

External Funding for Students

Undergraduate Research and Creative ActivitiesUndergraduate 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.

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.

Below are several opportunities available to students. The office of Undergraduate Research Opportunities at U.C. Irvine also regularly updates a list of degree specific opportunities available for Mason students which can be found here.

If you have additional resources you would like us to add, please email us at oscar@gmu.edu.

Student Grants and Funding Opportunities

National 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.

Young 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 Program

The National Institutions of Health offers several programs for undergraduates.

NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program

"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 Programs

Mason-SmithsonianThe 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.

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of ResearchSigma Xi Grants-In-Aid 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 sigmaxi@gmu.edu to apply.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program

cold-spring-harborSophomores 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 Scholars

HHMI Janelia Undergraduate Research ScholarsThe 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 Laboratory

Oak Ridge National LaboratoryUndergraduate 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.