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College of Arts and Sciences

Theme Semester Research Grant

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce our 2023 Theme Semester Undergraduate Research Award. The theme semester committee is offering ten $500 research grants to undergraduates to connect play to their inquiry. We are considering play in the broadest sense possible. What does play look like in the sciences, history, visual art or dance? How does play connect to larger inquiries and how people develop new knowledge and other creative activities? The goal of the grant is to encourage young scholars and creatives to ask big questions about the world and to see how we might come closer to answering them when we look at the problem through the lens of play. The grant will support a small research project that might, for example, broaden a field’s understanding of play, examine connections between play and learning, challenge what play is understood to be, translate or interpret play in new ways, examine play within a specific domain, look at historical perceptions of and changes to play, compare play across cultures or regions, etc. The research and creative activities are only limited by the imagination brought to the research topic.  

The grant application will consist of a one-page description of the research project, a support letter from your faculty mentor within your major department, a brief budget, and a research timeline. Please note: all grant recipients will be required to attend and present during our Theme Semester Research Celebration Day on April 14. There will be an additional cash research prize awarded at the celebration event.  

Questions you might have about the grant

January 13, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. 

Yes, all award recipients need a faculty mentor for two reasons. One, to mentor the  research or creation process and two, because all funds are distributed directly to the  department.  

Yes, sharing in the research or creation is encouraged. But we can only fund one project,  we cannot fund each researcher within a project. In other words, the $500  award amount  does not change if there are several collaborators.  

Please work with your department’s business manager. The funds cannot support salary or food. 

You submit your application through the Theme Semester webpage.

Rubric will be available closer to the start of spring semester.

We will award ten $500 grants .

All funds must be accounted for by the end of the Spring Semester 2023.

Yes. The Theme Semester is a College of Arts and Sciences event.  

No. Your one-page description will describe the nature of the research project or creative endeavor. The budget, budget justification and timeline will be separate.  

Yes. Making your research visible to our intellectual community matters. It is your voice, inquiry, scholarship, research, and creative activities that go a long way in helping make USC who we are. April 14th is an important date to celebrate that.  

Yes. There will be at least one $500 judge’s prize awarded to the most well-executed  research project or creative activity.  A judging rubric will be made available at the start of the spring semester.  


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.