April 11, 2017


The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) is designed to give undergraduates an authentic research, creative, or scholarly experience under the guidance of a mentor.                        

*Summer URSP applications will be open in late January or early February. We will be using a new application for the summer, but you can use the current guidelines to begin working on your proposal.  The deadline for summer applications is March 16, 2022. Look for information about the new application format later in January.*

 Click here to view the current application. Please scroll down to view additional information about this process.

Students may receive financial support and/or academic credit for their projects, in addition to developing relevant academic and professional skills. More information can be found below and in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Funded Projects - View a list of current and past Funded Projects

School of Systems Biology lab

Dr. Geraldine Grant mentors recent graduate and OSCAR Fellow Claire Collins.


Application Timeline

Applying for Application Open Date Application Due Date Notifications
Spring 2022 August 4th, 2021 October 27th, 2021 November 21st, 2021

Proposal Writing Workshops

February 16th, 2022 at 5:00pm: Click here to register.

March 10th, 2022 at 2:00pm: Click here to register.

To watch a video on how to write a proposal please click here

We will be holding two proposal writing workshops

You can sign up for appointments on Navigate Mason or email Dr.Lee with any questions.

Drop-in Hours with OSCAR Peer Leaders
OSCAR Office, Johnson Center 228


 Funding Options Traditional Intensive
Student allocation up to $1,000 $4,000
Materials and/or supplies $0 $500
Mentor allocation $500 $500
Total Award Amount
up to $1,500 up to $5,000

Student allocation - Supplies for your project and development funds (see below). Summer projects may choose to take all or part of this in the form of a fellowship payment. **It is recommended that Summer URSP student allocations be entirely stipend**

Materials and/or supplies - money to be used for state-approved purchases related to the project. View the list of unallowable purchases on the Fiscal Services website. Supply purchases must be made within the project semester; unused supply money will remain with OSCAR.

Mentor allocation - Money for the mentor to use either to make purchases related to the project or for professional development. The mentor will have access to these funds at the beginning of the project semester and has until the end of the fiscal year to utilize them. Unused mentor funds will remain with OSCAR.


Traditional URSP Intensive URSP
Available Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters Available Summer semester only
Up to $1,500 total award $5,000 total award
Approximately 144 hours spent on the project Approximately 360 hours spent on the project
Enroll in UNIV 495 (0 or 1 credit, meets weekly)* Attend development seminars June-August

*During the Fall and Spring semesters, URSP recipients are required to enroll in UNIV 495.

Application Website - 

Applicant Guidelines

Our current applicant guidelines are under construction, and will be uploaded soon. For assistance on crafting your proposal contact Dr. Karen Lee (klee57@gmu.edu) or join us for one of our Proposal Writing Workshops.

How to Apply

  • Go to , click Student Login button and log in with your Mason Net ID and password.
  • Step 1: Create a profile: Please click "+Create a profile to Get Started" to begin your profile. Complete all the information and save your profile. You can't create a proposal until you enter a profile.
  • Step 2: Start an Application: Click "+Get Started". This will take you to the application. Once you have started the application make sure to save draft before you exit. You may continue to edit the application until you have submitted it. Once you have completed all the parts of the application use the "save" button.
  • Step 3: Mentor Request: Click "open" on the mentor request portion of the home page. Once in the mentor request listing, click "+Add New Item" to request a mentor letter. Make sure you have your mentors contact information available so you can fill this out accurately. Please complete the mentor request as soon as you start an application so your mentor has time to complete their letter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any current Mason undergraduate students. All majors and concentrations are welcome.

Unfortunately, students are not eligible to participate in the URSP once they have graduated from Mason.

Any undergraduate research, creative, or scholarly project in which the student is contributing to original scholarly work is supported. Click HERE to read about the students and projects that have been funded in the past!

Students should meet with their potential faculty or staff mentor before completing their application to outline a reasonable project and ensure the mentor’s support of their application and proposed project.

Student Application includes the following sections.

  • SHORT COVER LETTER (500 word limit):  In this section, you should write a short personal statement addressed to the review committee summarizing the proposed project and your personal goals and expectations. Be specific about how this project fits into your broader educational and professional goals. Using personal pronouns may be very appropriate here. Please include a statement about the origination of the project idea; e.g. “This project is part of the ongoing research in my professor’s group.” or “I came up with this idea when…” Answer the question: Why are you interested in this project?
  • INTRODUCTION (500 word limit): This paragraph should clearly define the scholarly question and provide a discipline-specific context and rationale for the project. The applicant should identify how this work will add to the “big picture” by contributing to the knowledge of the discipline. How will this original project address a knowledge gap in your field? You should cite appropriate research and/or creative literature using in-text citations. Creative and/or performance-based projects may describe the work of others as exemplars.
    Answer the questions: What is your project and why is it significant?
  • PROCESS (600 word limit): In this section, you should describe the creative process, research design, and/or methods you will employ to complete the project. A description of materials and equipment necessary to complete the project should be included. If you need resources not available at Mason (e.g. a unique instrument or manuscript) to complete the project, you should obtain access to those resources before submitting your proposal and include a statement to that effect in this section.
    Answer the question: What will you do to answer your question or complete your creative activity?
  • TIMELINE (350 word limit): Please describe how you will invest your time during the semester to complete the project. Consult with your faculty member regarding the different sections of the project and provide the review committee with a plan of work including detailed timetables for the semester. You may extend the timeline beyond the semester as needed, however be clear what work you will perform during the semester you receive funding. Answer the question: How will you schedule your time?
  • EXPECTED OUTCOMES (350 word limit): Describe the anticipated outcomes, products and/or results of the project. It should be clear to the review committee how these results will contribute to the scholarly and/or creative community. Identify where the project outcomes may be shared, e.g. a Mason undergraduate research symposium, a professional conference, a submitted publication, juried show, and/or performance, etc.
    Answer the questions: What will you produce? How will your results/creative activity be communicated
    in your field?
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY (350 word limit): Include a list of every reference cited in the application narrative. Use the style most appropriate to the discipline. You may also include a selection of works consulted as space allows.
  • OUTCOMES FROM PREVIOUS FUNDING (100 word limit): Only applicants who have received previous funding from URSP will complete this section. Explain the specific products, outcomes, and results from the semesters (past and current) in which you were awarded funds from the URSP. You should clearly articulate how this proposal is different or builds upon your previous work.
  • BUDGET: In this section, you should indicate how the award will be used to support your project. The total award for the traditional URSP is up to $1,500. The total award for the intensive URSP (summer only) is up to
    $5,000. Traditional URSP is available Summer, Fall, and Summer semesters. In the traditional program, the
    student is allocated up to $1,000 for materials, supplies, research-related travel, and professional
    development. During the summer only, traditional URSP students can elect to use their $1,000 for
    student direct fellowship payments. The intensive URSP is offered only in the summer. In the intensive program, the student is allocated $4,000 for direct fellowship payment and $500 for supplies. The student can elect to use part of this $4,000 fellowship payment for supplies as well. During the school year your mentor is awarded $500 for either supplies for the URSP project or for faculty professional development. For summer projects only, mentors can select a stipend option instead. For materials and supplies, preliminary prices and sources should be included in the justification. Typically, URSP does not fund travel to present your projects, but for some students we allow this use of funds during the school year. URSP students have priority access to separate funds, the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund (USTF) for this purpose. For more information on USTF, please visit the OSCAR website (http://oscar.gmu.edu/).

Download the Narrative Guidelines for additional suggestions.

Submit your application via the web as described below.  The student applicant is required to insure their project mentor completes the Mentor Application Form before the posted deadline.

  • Go to , and create an account. You must use your masonlive email and password. Use Mason credentials to sign in and when creating your profile.
  • Step 1: Create a Profile: Please click “+Create a Profile to Get Started” to begin your profile. Complete all the information and save your profile. You cannot create a proposal until you enter a profile.
  • Step 2: Start an Application:  Click “+Get Started”. This will take you to the application. Once you have started the application make sure to save draft before you exit. You may continue to edit the application until you have submitted it. Once you have completed all the parts of the application use the “save” button.
  • Step 3: Mentor Request: Click “+Open” on the mentor request portion of the home page. Once in the mentor request listing, click “+Add New Item” to request a mentor letter. Make sure you have your mentors contact information available so you can fill this out accurately. Please complete the mentor request as soon as you start an application so your mentor has the time to complete their letter.

Questions? Email oscar@gmu.edu or call 703-993-3794

If your application is successful and you are invited to participate in the URSP, you will be expected to commit the number of hours indicated in the table below on your project. You should coordinate with your mentor a suitable method of documenting your time during the project.
URSP Options

Fall, Spring, Summer
Summer only
Hours per week ~9 40
Total Hours 144 360
  • Students who participate in the URSP are expected to share the results of their research in a professional environment. They must present at the semester-end OSCAR Celebration of Student Scholarship as well as someplace else. This can be a public performance at Mason, a separate celebration of student scholarship hosted by a Mason college or school, a national or regional conference, or other setting.
  • URSP students will be expected to attend professional development activities during the award period.
  • During the Fall and Spring semesters, students will be required to enroll in UNIV 495 (0 or 1 credits which has weekly meetings)

Students will receive funding as indicated in the table below.  Stipends are paid directly to the students during their award period.  Mentor funds can be used either for purchases related to the project or for professional development. These funds are immediately available at the beginning of the semester of your award. Professional development funds must be used within the fiscal year

Funding Options

Traditional Intensive
Student Allocation up to $1,000 $4,000*
Materials and/or Supplies $0* $500*
Mentor Allocation $500 $500
Total Award Amount
up to $1,500 $5,000

* Distribution between stipend and supplies may be determined by student/mentor team.

Justifications of student stipends should include how you will use the stipend to support yourself during the award period. It is completely acceptable to explain that this stipend will help offset your number of hours working another job or assist you in paying your tuition.  Materials and/or supplies should be described in the application so that the reviewers know what is necessary for your project to succeed. You are not required to justify your mentor’s allocation since their time and effort is so valuable.

As a participant in the URSP, you will have priority to receive travel support through the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund to present the results of your scholarship at a scholarly meeting, conference, exhibition, etc.

In addition to monetary support, you will receive professional development support through the URSP seminar that you will attend the first semester you are in the program. You will receive advanced notification of OSCAR events, undergraduate opportunities, and other news as part of OSCAR. Students who participate in the URSP are also potential nominees to become OSCAR Fellows, outstanding undergraduate research leaders who represent OSCAR to other students, faculty, parents, and the community.

Finally, participation in this program is an honor and an opportunity. You are being recognized as a budding scholar in your field, so you are able to include the program on your resume and CV as a competitive fellowship award. More importantly, you are gaining professional and personal skills in creative problem-solving, working professionally with colleagues, and communicating effectively that will enrich your Mason experience and your post-graduation life!

Any undergraduate student who is in good academic standing may apply to work on a project as a part of the URSP. We do require that you remain in good academic standing (which means maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA) while working on the project.

Yes. Applications are reviewed by the Student Scholarly Activities committee which is comprised of faculty and students from a variety of academic units at Mason. Applications that communicate a clear vision that is understandable to a diverse range of disciplines, while also demonstrating the greatest potential for student success, will be selected.

All current Mason community members who are tenure-line faculty, term faculty, adjunct faculty, post-docs, staff, and/or graduate students are eligible to mentor a project as part of the URSP.

Your mentor will help guide you through your project proposal and should work with you on a regular basis to help guide you through your project. The mentor should treat you as a colleague and give you opportunities to understand the scholarly context of your project. Given the different models of mentorship in each discipline, this relationship will be variable. In some cases, you may be given a graduate student or other mentor to work more closely with you on a daily basis.

Both students and their mentors are required to submit an application for consideration in the URSP. This is done to ensure that students and their mentors are each committed to the proposed project and appear to have a common understanding of the work that will be done to complete the project as part of the URSP.  If your mentor is supporting the application of two students, he/she should complete a separate Mentor Application Form for each applicant.

Yes! Students who successfully complete the first semester are encouraged to continue their URSP project. Students who are making satisfactory progress on their project may continue in the program until the project is complete and/or they graduate. If you wish to receive funding for subsequent semesters, you must formally reapply to URSP and submit a new proposal.  This should not be an exact copy of your previously successful proposal and you will be asked to clearly indicate the outcomes of your funded semester(s).  The committee has higher expectations for repeat proposals and generally gives preference to new students. Typically, students are not funded more than 2 or 3 times from this program.

  • URSP award funds may be allocated to purchase supplies and/or materials essential to the completion of the student project.
  • The faculty mentor’s department purchasing officer will complete purchases on behalf of the mentor/student team and request reimbursement from OSCAR.
  • OSCAR will not reimburse students for items purchased directly. All purchases should go through the university and obey all the purchasing rules.
  • URSP supply and materials funds are available immediately upon the beginning of the award period and must be exhausted within the given term, either Fall, Spring or Summer.
  • If funding is used for international travel, $50 needs to be budgeted for a travel insurance fee. Students will also need to sign up on the Travel Registration Page.
  • If you have any questions, call (703-993-3794) or email (oscar@gmu.edu) us for help.

Contact the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) by sending an email to oscar@gmu.edu or stop by our new office in the Johnson Center, Room 228.