Honors College research funding is now available for the Summer and Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. To apply for a SURF or Exploration grant, you need to follow these steps IN ORDER, and every step is required.
1. Attend a virtual research workshop. During the workshop, you will learn how to apply for a research grant and how to receive funding. Pre-registration is not required, and sessions are conducted in Blackboard Collaborate.
- Monday, March 22 at 2 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 23 at 11 a.m.
- Wednesday, March 24 at 3 p.m.
- Thursday, March 25 at 5 p.m.
2. Complete the Research Grant Contract with your faculty mentor.
3. Complete the SCHC Research Program Grant application.
Which one is right for you?
The Exploration Scholars Program was created to encourage the action it is named for — exploration. Creative projects are welcomed and research in a humanities field is encouraged, and, unlike traditional research projects, the Exploration Scholars Program values students gaining research skills and an understanding of the realities of scholarship over groundbreaking discoveries (though those are, of course, always welcome)!
In contrast, the purpose of the Science Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Program is to encourage Honors College students to work with a mentor from the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields on a joint project in the mentor's discipline area.
The student should have active and substantial intellectual input to the direction and focus of the project. Ideally, the student's contributions would be sufficient enough to warrant co-authorship on any resulting publications. Frequently students are able to become co-authors on published work.
Please note, all students are required to attend a workshop each time they plan to submit a grant application (even if the application is for a renewal of an existing grant).
The SURF and Exploration Scholars Programs were designed to allow Honors College students to work with a mentor on a project in the mentor’s discipline. Ideally, projects will be initiated by the student or conceived jointly by the student and mentor. For students in the early stages of their development as scholars, however, their work may serve to directly facilitate the mentor’s ongoing research. While a student’s project may directly contribute to the mentor’s research, it must always be remembered that it is the student’s project, not the mentor’s; the student should have a clear sense of involvement and ownership. Honors College Research Grants are for undergraduate research, not work-study or student employment.
It is very important to find a mentor who will provide guidance and support for the duration of the grant. Through many years of experience, we have found that full-time faculty at the USC-Columbia campus and the Medical School are the most reliable and qualified mentors. As a result, we expect all mentors to be full-time faculty members at either of those institutions.
There are many ways to find a mentor. Oftentimes, students simply have an interest in the work being done by a professor teaching one of their classes. Alternatively, some students search for keywords on the Office of Undergraduate Research and USCera databases of faculty research interests.
We also encourage students to explore departmental websites and read research papers written by a prospective mentor in their search—not only will this provide a better insight into their research, it will also lend credibility to an email inquiry a student may send to a potential mentor.
If a student wishes to be mentored by an individual lacking the preferred credentials, he or she should explain the situation to the Research Program Coordinator who will consider it on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, a student needing to change mentors after the grant has been approved must contact the Research Program Coordinator.
Honors College research grant funding is awarded exclusively as a student stipend, which provides $10/hour for undergraduate researchers. Over the course of their college careers, students can receive a maximum of $4,500 in Honors College Research Program grant funding. This year, the maximum amount that a student can receive is $2,000.
Research grant awards are competitive and depend on the strength of the application, number of students who apply, and the amount of funding the Research Program has available.
As these projects often occur during the academic year, the Honors College Research Grant can include a flexible schedule. Students may begin working as early as May 15, and may continue working on their projects until May 15 of the following year.
There are restrictions on how many hours students can work in a week. During weeks in which class is in session, students are allowed to work a maximum of 15 hours a week. During breaks, students are allowed a maximum of 30 hours a week.
Please note- student employees for the university are allowed a total of 20 hours while classes are in session. As a result, students with a university job in addition to their research grant must cap their total time to 20 hours. For example, a student working 10 hours at the provost office would only be allowed to report 10 hours on their research grant.
The Honors College requires a written report of the results of your project.
The final report should be approximately two pages long and is due three weeks prior to the end of the funding period. Please include a description of the project, a summary of the conclusions drawn from the project, and a description of publications or presentations of that project (e.g. at Discover USC), as well as a description of the guidance provided by the mentor.
Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to present their project at the Discover USC fair in April. Some students are also able to co-publish the results of their project in a peer-reviewed journal with their mentor, and if so, we ask students to notify the Director of Undergraduate Research of this achievement.
Any projects involving the use of human subjects must receive approval from the Institutional Review Board. More information can be found on the website for the Office of Research Compliance .
Prior to beginning work on any Honors College Research Grant, students are required to take a Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) course. A specific course will be chosen by the student and his or her mentor. Proof of completion must be uploaded into the SCHC Blackboard Research organization.
Honors students who are interested in applying for grant funding are required to attend a workshop before submitting an application. The purpose of the workshop is to explain the application process. Workshops are offered throughout the year and each semester the full workshop schedule will be posted prior to the grant activity period.