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Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research Center

Frequently Asked Questions


Am I eligible to receive URC funding?

All full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates may apply for funding. Graduating seniors are not eligible to receive funding for work completed after graduation. Partnerships may support undergraduate research for a senior thesis or presentation as well as exploratory or experimental projects with less formal outcomes. Students may also apply for Research Assistant positions with a faculty member on campus. The URC will not support projects without a research component. All grant awardees must present a poster, presentation, or performance at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

I don't think we do "research" in my field. Can I still apply for funding for my project?

The URC is open to funding projects in all fields. You should speak with a faculty member in your field to discuss your idea for a project. 

I already received funding from the URC last year. Am I still eligible?

Yes, you are still eligible to receive funding, but the committee tries to give as many applicants as possible the chance to receive funding at least once. You must explain in your application how the proposed project is new or is a continuation of a previous project. If it is a continuation, you must describe what part of your research is new.

What if I want to work with another student on the project?

Projects involving two or more students are encouraged, but there are two ways these projects can be awarded. If each student wants to apply for full funding ($1,500), then each student must write and submit a unique proposal, identifying the collaboration and his or her personal contribution to the project, including unique research questions, methods, or approaches. In this case, each budget must be distinct. If the project is truly collaborative and distinct roles and budgets cannot be distinguished, then the group should submit a single proposal and a single budget. In this case, the group is eligible for a single $1,500 award.

How long are funds available?

You may apply for a PinS grant at any of the four deadlines throughout the year, but research must be completed by June 2015. Summer grants are available June through August, only. SSTF grants are available at any time throughout the year, though early application is encouraged as we often run out of funds by the end of the year.

How do I choose a faculty partner?

Your faculty partner should be someone with a background in the subject you want to study. Sometimes the perfect faculty partner is not full-time or may be on sabbatical. Sometimes a great resource is not a faculty member. What should you do? You should find a full-time faculty member to be your primary partner. The URC wants to know that you will be supported throughout your project. However, you may also have a secondary partner if his or her background is a good fit for your project. Your faculty partner does not need to be in your major department if your project is interdisciplinary. Some faculty partners are hands-on and will work with you every step of the way. Others will give you space to work on your research and only step in if you need some extra guidance. Either way is fine and the role of your faculty partner should be explained in your application and their letter.


What does the committee look for in an application?

The committee looks for a well written and thorough research or creative project. For research projects, they want to understand what your research question is, what data you are collecting, how you are collecting it, and if it is realistic to the timeline you submitted. For creative projects, you should make the case that you are contributing to the field by doing something new and important. Talk with your faculty partner about your project to make sure it’s feasible. Include a reference list or citation list of academic literature to make your case.

Address the following questions while crafting your application: 

  • Is the data you are collecting a new venture or could you use existing information?
  • If you are requesting funds for travel, why is it necessary for you to go to the destination?
  • If you plan on conducting interviews, what are your questions, how are you going to find individuals to participate, and what would you do if you could not find enough participants?
  • Is your question focused enough to explore in the timeline you submitted?
  • What will you do with the data and findings?
Is there a minimum GPA required for applications?

No, but the committee does take GPA into consideration. If your grades are a concern the committee will check your transcript for patterns. If one less-than-successful quarter has brought down your GPA, but it has been climbing since, that will be taken into consideration. If you were struggling in one major, but now you switched and you have been doing much better, that will be taken into consideration. If the committee feels like your current grade trend is a concern, they may feel that adding in an outside project is not in your best interest and may not approve your project.

What is IACUC approval?

If you are using animals in your research, you must get approval from the DU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC is composed of four faulty members, a veterinarian, and two individuals selected to represent the local community. The primary responsibility of the IACUC is to review all research protocols involving the use of live, vertebrate animals and to ensure that all personnel directly involved in animal research have received proper training in the use of laboratory animals.

"Animal" is defined as "any live, vertebrate animal used or intended for use in research, research training, teaching, experimentation or biological testing or for related purposes." See the Animal Care & Use Program for more information, or contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP):

What is IRB approval? 

If you are collecting data from people, you probably need approval from the Institutional Review Board on campus. This includes interviewing people. Your faculty partner should assist you on this process, not the URC. IRB applications are reviewed on a monthly basis so you should send your application through the IRB office as early as possible. Your grant can be approved by the URC office, but funds will be withheld until you receive approval from the IRB office.

When you receive your IRB approval, forward your approval documentation, including your assigned IRB number, to the URC office.

See the Institutional Review Board (IRB) page, or contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP):


How do the grants work? Are they like scholarships?

All grants from the URC operate on a reimbursement system, meaning that you are responsible for making necessary purchases and then submitting the final itemized receipts to the URC office. If the cost of an item prohibits you from waiting for the reimbursement, please contact URC staff to make alternative arrangements. 

How do I buy supplies or equipment?

Your faculty partner may purchase supplies for your project, and the URC can reimburse the department or faculty member. If you are requesting equipment or reusable supplies, you should include how the department will use the items after your project is completed in your budget description.

What items cannot be reimbursed?

Grant money cannot be used for tuition, internships, service learning, courses, lessons, or related travel. Other non-reimbursable items include: certain taxes, alcohol, on-campus dining, individual services and travel insurance. You should use the DU tax exempt number for purchases so that you do not have to pay tax.  

Can I pay myself to work on my project?

Only Summer Grant award winners can request stipends, at a rate of $14.00/hour. This must be included in the budget request. Stipends are taxed and an 1.7% fringe rate will be deducted. For example, a $3,000 stipend would have $51 taken out as fringe. The remaining $2,949 would be taxed like any regular job.

You will be hired by the University as a non-benefited employee, meaning that you must complete a background check, the I9 form, and the W4 form. You will receive a monthly paycheck, depending on the amount of the award and the project timeline.

How do I submit my time sheet?

The URC does not use time sheets. The faculty partner oversees the hours you work.   

My project involves animals. What type of approval do I need?

If you are working with animals, you must receive IACUC approval. The application can be found at If your project is selected, the funding will be contingent on IRB or IACUC approval. You must receive and forward the approval from the IRB or the IACUC to the URC coordinator before funding can be disbursed.

I am studying people. Do I need special approval for my project? 

If your project involves human subjects (this includes surveys, interviews, observation of public behavior, etc.), you must complete and submit an Application to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects form. Complete the IRB form in consultation with your faculty partner and submit it to the IRB. You must receive and forward the approval from the IRB or the IACUC to the URC coordinator before funding can be disbursed.

For the faculty partner

What are my responsibilities as faculty partner?

Faculty partners are integral to the application process. In addition to providing a recommendation for the student's project, you should help the student craft the research proposal and determine the appropriate budget. You should also discuss how the supplies will be purchased.

For Summer Grant awardees, you are responsible for ensuring that their work is being done in a timely manner. If your student is not completing the work expected, you should speak with your student about your expectations. You should also contact the URC to discontinue payment, if necessary.

If the student's project has human subjects, you must complete the online CITI Basic Course (about 2 hours). See the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) Policies page on the ORSP website.


How do I get reimbursed for my purchases?

Reimbursements typically take up to 10 business days. You will receive your reimbursement in one of two ways:

1) Mailed to the mailing address you have on file with the school. Check PioneerWeb to make sure your address is correct. You can change it in PioneerWeb.

2) Direct deposit. If you are signed up for reimbursement direct deposit, the funds will be sent directly to your bank account. Reimbursement direct deposit is different from payroll direct deposit if you work on campus. If you have received direct deposits from the Bursar’s office you are set up. To set up direct deposit follow these instructions

What should I submit for reimbursement?

You must submit original, detailed, itemized receipts. If the receipt is electronic, you may email it to Hard copies of receipts should be taped to an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper and submitted to URC staff in Mary Reed 301. Include your name and DU ID. If your receipts are in a language other than English, translations must be provided. The receipts must show the name of the organization or company, the date of the purchase, the items purchases, and how much was paid. You cannot scan or fax receipts, the original receipts must be submitted.

I only kept the credit card receipt, can i use that for reimbursement?

No! The credit card receipt only shows the total amount paid, it does not show what was purchased. You MUST submit the original, detailed, itemized receipt showing what was purchased. 

Can I submit my credit card statement or my bank statement?

No! A bank or credit card statement is not sufficient and cannot be used to process a reimbursement. It must be the original receipt that you received. 

I used a taxi to get around but they didn't give me a receipt, can I get reimbursed for this?

No! Ask for a receipt. You can explain that you need it for business purposes and they should be able to supply you with a receipt. Make sure it has the name of the company, the date, the item or service purchased, and the total amount that was paid. 

I am trying to book my travel for my SSTF grant.  What guidelines should I use for estimating costs?

We generally use the U.S. General Services Administration's guidelines on per diem rates.  You can look up your destination by city to look at their lodging rate (based on month of travel), as well as their meals and incidentals expenses rate (the daily rate we would reimburse you for meals, labeled M & IE in the chart).  We recommend that you adhere to these guidelines in order to maximize your award funds.  

What items cannot be reimbursed?

Grant money cannot be used for tuition, internships, service learning, courses, or lessons. Other non-reimbursable items include: certain taxes, alcohol, on-campus dining, individual services and travel insurance. You should use the DU tax exempt number for purchases so that you do not have to pay tax.