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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

A commitment to diversity is a commitment to excellence

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The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) is a fully funded, eight-week summer residential program that brings 30 talented and motivated undergraduate students from across the country and the world to Stanford Engineering for an immersive research and graduate school preparation experience.

SURF is designed to demystify the admissions process and give scholars a real feel for what it means to conduct research at the graduate level. The program provides students with housing, a meal plan, a travel stipend, and a stipend upon completion of the program. In addition, SURF students will have the opportunity to participate in a robust graduate school preparation program including coding experience, excursions around the Bay Area, community-building activities, participation in a research poster symposium, and a strong mentorship component. 


The program aims to build community, explore identity formation, and create a cohort of future graduate student engineers who can promote diversity of thought and experience within the engineering and science student body. Student engagement in research increases 1) the retention of students in scientific research, 2) student interest in graduate school, and 3) student interest in STEM careers. Since its inception, SURF has been a vehicle for undergraduate students to conduct scientific research and a foundation for them to pursue graduate studies in engineering.

We are committed to advancing a culture of respect, accessibility, inclusion, and empowerment at for all students at Stanford Engineering. We make intentional efforts to outreach and connect with students who will contribute to the diversity of thought and experience at Stanford Engineering, including, but not limited to, those who are first in their family to pursue an advanced degree, and/or students who come from environments with limited access to Research I university programs.

The 2023 SURF Cohort had an incredible summer at Stanford

Our 2023 SURF fellows represent colleges and universities from across the nation and the world. Together with their Stanford professors and graduate mentors, their creativity and talent are leading the way in tackling the major challenges of the 21st Century. 

 Applications for the 2024 SURF Cohort open November 1, 2023

SURF 2024 will be held in person on Stanford's campus

Click here to learn more about the SURF 2023 Faculty Hosts and their 2023 SURF research projects. 

2024 SURF research projects will be available on November 1, 2023.

There will be 3 one-hour virtual information sessions on the following dates:

Monday, November 6, 2023 @ 10am-11am PST

Monday, December 11, 2023 @ 2pm-3pm PST

Monday, January 22, 2023 @ 10am-11am PST

Presentation slides available here

Application Information

Program Eligibility - Applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled full-time in an accredited public or private college or university in the United States or its territories, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or be currently enrolled full-time in an accredited international college or university. 
  • Be in good academic standing with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Note: Applications from students who describe exceptional circumstances in their statement of purpose and/or personal history statement, or who demonstrate a marked progression of improving grades on their transcript, may be considered.
  • Demonstrate a committed interest to pursue graduate study toward a PhD. If you plan on pursuing an MD, JD, or other non-research focused advance degree this is not the right program for you.
  • Have completed at least two semesters/three quarters (or equivalent) and have at least one full semester/quarter remaining of their undergraduate education at the end of the summer program. Priority given to rising juniors (3rd years) and seniors (4th years). Master's students are not eligible. 

In efforts to attract applicants from a variety of backgrounds, identities, and life experiences, two application options are available:

  1. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply to SURF through the Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP)*
  2. Applicants may also apply through the Stanford SURF program application** 

*Submitting an application through either portal is acceptable. All applications are reviewed thoroughly and holistically regardless of the application portal chosen, and the applicant should not submit their application twice. If you are applying through SR-EIP, you will not be able to submit an optional personal history statement. To submit your personal history statement, please email a PDF attachment to with the subject line: LastName-FirstName-PersonalHistoryStatement. 

**International applicants, undocumented students, and DACAmented students are eligible to apply and should submit their application through the Stanford SURF Portal. Please note that a valid J-1 Visa (for students living and studying outside the United States) is not a pre-requisite for applying. International students with an F-1 Visa who are already living in the United States and studying at a U.S. university are also eligible to apply.

The SURF team conducts a holistic review of all applications and extends initial invitations to top applicants. The deadline for both applications (including all letters of recommendation) is February 1, 2024 at 11:59pm. Applicants will be notified of a decision for the 2024 program in early March. Many questions about the program and application can be answered in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Application Materials

As part of the application form, applicants must submit the following materials: 

  • Resume or CV - 2-3 pages in length at maximum
  • Academic Transcript (unofficial transcript will suffice; official transcript not necessary)
  • Statement of Purpose describing your reasons for applying to the SURF program, academic & professional interests, experiences & preparation for research in your field of study, and why this program would be a good fit for your future goals. Statements should be typed, single-spaced, and 1-2 pages in length. 
  • Two Letters of Recommendation. We highly recommend letters from faculty & supervisors who can specifically discuss your academic potential and research preparation for the program.
  • Optional Personal History Statement detailing how your participation in SURF would contribute to diversity of thought and experience in the field of Engineering. This is optional but strongly encouraged. Note: If you are applying through SR-EIP and would like to submit an optional personal history statement, please email a PDF attachment to with the subject line LastName-FirstName-PersonalHistoryStatement. 

For Stanford Labs: Host a Scholar

Thank you for your interest in serving as a lab host for the SURF program. PIs should complete our Lab Host Interest Form to confirm your interest and availability. SUNet ID Authentication is required to access the form.

2024 SURF Lab Host Interest Form

2024 SURF Lab Host Guide and FAQ

SURF Program Alumni

A list of SURF alumni and their current projects is forthcoming in late October. Stay tuned!

List of SURF Alumni Coming Soon  





Montage of six student headshots

Scholar Spotlights

Learn from our past scholars
about SURF!