Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunity (URCO) awards provide a one-time, $1,000 scholarship, to support original research or creative work by USU undergraduates with the guidance of a faculty member. Proposals may also include requests for additional funds to cover the costs of equipment, supplies, and project-related travel.
What needs to be included in a proposal?
Application deadline extended to 11:59pm, February 28!
Each URCO grant proposal requires a research project proposal that is your own work, a faculty mentor that has agreed to oversee your project, and a source or sources of matching funds to sponsor the project.
The completed proposal will consist of an online application form and 7 documents. Each of these documents must include the proposal title and student name(s) and will be required as part of the online application.
The proposal must include the following in order to be considered:
A proposal narrative describes the project and provides a rationale for conducting the work. Although a lengthy literature review is not required, previous scholarly work should be cited. The narrative should also include what the student hopes to accomplish.
- In the sciences and in engineering, excellent proposals will: (a) orient reviewers to the greater body of relevant literature and convey why the project is important and significant, (b) present the goal, aims, or hypotheses for the project that are related to the previous literature, and (c) include a clear and descriptive methodology section that directly connects the project goals, aims, and hypotheses to the overall importance and significance of the project.
- In the arts and humanities, excellent proposals contain a description of the idea or question that the student will be exploring, the planned approach or line of thought, and the significance of the proposed work and the contribution that it will make to the arts and/or humanities.
The narrative portion of the proposal may not exceed 2,500 words (5 single-spaced pages, with 12-point font and 1″ margins) excluding citations.
The Proposal Narrative is submitted as a document attachment, pdf file preferred. Please remember to clear any comments and turn off tracking functions prior to submission.
Use this timeline template for your project’s proposed timeline. There are two sample timelines in additional tabs of the spreadsheet to show you possible variation in timelines.
URCO grant timelines available for Fall, Spring and Summer semesters are as follows:
June 1 - Application opens
June 15 - Application closes
August - Recipients notified
1st day of Fall Semester - Funding available
1 year from notice of award - Reports Due
October 1 - Application opens
October 15 - Application closes
December - Recipients notified
1st day of Spring Semester - Funding available
1 year from notice of award - Reports Due
February 1 - Application opens
February 15 - Application closes
April - Recipients notified
1st day of Summer Semester - Funding available
1 year from notice of award - Reports Due
Each project should start at the beginning of the semester that you are applying for; if you have done preliminary work, feel free to add that as well. The timeline should span through to the end of the project and include:
- Orientation and funding (at the start of the semester)
- All research tasks specific to your project:
- IRB/IACUC review (if necessary);
- A month-by-month proposal of work
- A target for the presentation of the work (e.g., Student Research Symposium, Research on Capitol Hill, NCUR, etc).
- The deadline for URCO reports
Each proposal should include an education plan that describes 3 to 5 learning objectives for the experience. These objectives are relative to the work that will be done and how it impacts your future education and personal goals. What does the student anticipate learning from the work? What does the student anticipate being able to do—or what does he or she anticipate knowing—at the end of the project? Note that funded students will address their progress toward these learning objectives in their final report.
For group proposals, please note which educational goals are shared and outline any individual student goals within the same document.
The Education Plan is submitted as a document attachment, pdf file preferred.
Budget and Commitment
All proposals must include a Budget & Commitment form.
- For individual student submissions, use the individual student form. Individual URCO awards include a $1,000 scholarship that requires matching funds of $250 from another university source (usually a faculty member, student department, faculty mentor department, or the Honors Program).
- For group submissions, use the group form. Group GRCO awards include a $500 scholarship per person up to a group of four and require matching funds of $125 per person from another university source.
In addition, any proposal may include a request for up to $1,000 to cover research costs, including travel to conduct research, equipment, and/or supplies. This supplemental, optional budget request requires a 50% match from another university source, up to $500. This source can be the same as the scholarship match but does not have to be.
Each proposal’s Budget & Commitment requires the financial information about the matching source for the scholarship, as well as the signature of approval from a person with direct budget authority for that funding. If your proposal includes the optional request for additional research cost funding, you must also have your mentor approve your proposed budget and include the financial information and signature of approval for the matching funds as well.
URCO travel funding does not include funding to present research or attend conferences; any undergraduate students are welcome to apply for funding to present their research under Travel Awards.
Questions about the budget commitment letter can be addressed to Athena Dupont at firstname.lastname@example.org or (435) 797-3762.
Letter of Support
A letter of support from the project’s faculty mentor must accompany each URCO proposal. The letter should:
- Outline the qualifications of the applicant(s) to complete the project.
- Outline how the project fits within the definition of undergraduate research: “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”
- Provide a statement of support for the project, its feasibility, timeline, and potential educational outcomes.
Letters must be uploaded at the time of application; proposals without this letter will not be reviewed.
The Letter of Support is submitted as a document attachment, pdf file preferred. If the mentor prefers to submit this separately, it should be emailed to email@example.com before the application deadline, and the student should submit a document stating that the letter was emailed separately when they submit the remainder of their application materials in the application portal.
Mentor compacts are becoming a best practice in the realm of mentorship and are a valuable communication tool for students and mentors alike. While some graduate students have documentation of the nature of their relationship with mentors, most undergraduates lack a clear understanding of what their research mentor relationship entails. A simple document, signed by all parties, promotes clarity and provides space for constructive conflict mediation as needed.
As of 2023, all URCO proposals going forward will include a mentor compact. Mentor compacts are simple documents that outline each party’s responsibilities in the proposed project. They typically cover the kinds of conversations that you are already having, such as:
- Student responsibilities/expectations
- Mentor responsibilities/expectation
- Communication plan
- If relevant, any authorship or presentation stipulations
Student responsibilities/expectations include items such as time commitment, duration of project, designated tasks, any required trainings, and often include learning objectives (though for the URCO, those are outlined in their Education Plan document). Mentor responsibilities/expectations likewise include time commitment and role in trainings and learning objectives.
Communication plans take into account the type, duration, and frequency of meetings, as well as preferred modes of other communication. It also includes a conflict resolution process.
Finally, in keeping with the presentation requirement for the URCO grant, a dissemination plan is helpful. If already identified, the publication or presentation venue should be indicated, alongside an agreement about the expectation of authorship (number and order of involved parties) and any factors relating to sharing the information to the public.
The Office of Research provides a basic template for any mentoring efforts, and are happy to provide further examples upon request via email to UR@usu.edu. Mentors are also encouraged to review USU Policy 589 on Unpaid Research Interns in the event that their student(s) are not awarded an URCO grant (though URCO awardees are not considered ‘unpaid interns’).
The Mentor Compact is submitted as a document attachment, pdf file preferred. Physical or electronic signatures accepted.
All proposals must include a current CV in order to be reviewed. Group proposals require a CV for each group member.
CVs will be a critical component in reviewer assessment of applicants’ competence and should be a reflection of students’ work history, research experience, work ethic, and applicable skills. A good CV should be tailored to this application specifically, and show professionalism and care. Click for help crafting or updating your Curriculum Vitae.
Each CV is submitted as a separate document attachment, pdf file preferred.
Identify Project Discipline Group
Each project is evaluated in a discipline group. You will be asked to recommend the best discipline group for your project during the application process.
Arts & Humanities- Includes programs such as Music, Theater, Religious Studies, English, History, Liberal Arts, etc. Life Sciences- Includes programs such as Biology, Plants, Watershed Sciences, Environment and Society, etc. Physical Sciences & Math- Includes programs such as Geology, Math, Physics, Dietetics, etc. Engineering- Includes programs such as Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, etc. Social Sciences & Education- Includes programs such as Political Science, Management, JCOM, Economics and Finance, Accountancy, Psychology, etc.
The Discipline Group is indicated as a question within the application form.
Each proposal will be evaluated by two experts. Excellent proposals will be concise, clear, descriptive, persuasive, and easy to follow. There are two criteria for the award: project quality (75% weight) and student qualification (25% weight).
Project ratings will be based on the following categories:
- Research Question or Creative Goal: Does the proposal state and describe the goals of the project? Does the proposal articulate a scholarly question or a professional artistic objective? Are there proposed hypotheses or anticipated outcomes for the project?
- Significance: Does the proposal engage in the key elements of the scholarly process, and situate the concepts, practices, or results of scholarship within a broader context? Is it easy to follow, concise, clear, descriptive and persuasive?
- Methodology: Does the proposal clearly describe the methodology, design, research plan, processes, or procedures that will be used to complete the project? Is the approach appropriate for achieving the project goals? Are there alternative approaches?
- Feasibility: Is the project well-planned, feasible, and clear? Can it be accomplished within the timeline proposed? Does the proposal take into account potential challenges or problems, and how the project will seek to address them?
Student qualifications will be based on the following categories:
- Experience: Experience predicts success in URCO projects. Does the student’s (or students’) experience indicate their competence (e.g., output, presentations, publications)? Do the supporting documents indicate their dedication and motivation to complete the project (e.g., work ethic, time in a lab, work on projects with faculty)?
- Mentor Support: Does the mentor make a compelling case in recommending the student(s)? Does the mentor compact indicate willingness and a plan to invest in the student’s (or students’) success?
- Educational Growth: Has each student developed learning objectives or professional goals to be derived from the project. Do the proposal, education plan and mentor compact clearly express how this research project will help the student(s) meet those goals?
Applications that do not include these 7 completed and finalized documents will not be reviewed.
- Fall: June 1-15
- Spring: October 1-15
- Summer: February 1-15