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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

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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, industry visits, excursions around the Bay Area, community-building activities, participation in a research symposium, and a strong mentorship component.


The program aims to build community 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 competitive students with demonstrated potential, including those who come from environments with limited access to Research I university programs.

The 2023 SURF Cohort had an incredible summer at Stanford 

Together with their professors and mentors, their talent is leading the way in tackling the major challenges of the 21st Century.

 2024 SURF Fellows have been selected!

SURF 2024 will be held fully in person at Stanford from June 22 - August 17

Learn more about the SURF 2024 Faculty Hosts

Virtual information sessions:

November 2024 @ TBD PT
December 2024 @ TBD PT
 January 2025 @ TBD PT

See information session slides here

SURF Application Office Hours

Join virtually in January 2025 @ TBD PT 

Application Information

Program Eligibility - Applicants must

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • 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. Full-time community college students at all levels of study are eligible to apply, though priority will be given to community college students in their transfer year.
  • If the applicant is a foreign national enrolled in a college or university internationally or within the United States, they must be first generation (first in their family to attend university in pursuit of a bachelor's degree) and/or from low socioeconomic status. 
  • 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 in an engineering field. If you plan on pursuing an MD, JD, MBA, or other non-research-focused advanced 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 life experiences, two application options are available:

  1. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply to SURF through the Leadership Alliance's 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 or rank your top 3 SURF 2024 labs. To submit your personal history statement and lab rankings, please email PDF attachments to with the subject line: LastName-FirstName-Personal History Statement and Lab Rankings. 

**Undocumented students, DACAmented students, and first generation and/or low income international applicants 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. First generation and/or low income 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 and supporting documents) 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: 3 pages in length at maximum
  • Academic Transcript: Unofficial transcript will suffice; official transcript not necessary.
  • Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose should be an essay crafted to convey your academic and career goals, with an emphasis on your current research interests. In this essay, you should clearly explain your interest for pursuing doctoral level (PhD) training. An interview is not a standard part of the SURF application process. Consider the statement of purpose your opportunity to introduce yourself to a review committee and the chance to answer any information you might share during an interview. 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 (Strongly Encouraged): For the optional personal history statement, we invite you to share unique, personally important experiences, demonstrated values, perspectives, or activities that have led you to this point in your academic/professional journey. Please discuss how they have influenced your path in school, inform your approach to science and research, and/or serve as motivation for pursuing your chosen field in engineering. 1000 words max. Note: If you are applying through Leadership Alliance 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. 

Application Resources - Exemplars

In an effort to support applicants in preparing their applications, updated exemplars will be provided in fall 2024. These are not meant to be prescriptive, but rather to offer you examples of what successful statements have looked like in previous years; remember there are many ways to write successful statements. We encourage you to have your statements reviewed by trusted mentors, as well as your college or university's writing center tutors if those are available to you.

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 directory of SURF alumni and their current projects is forthcoming. Stay tuned!