Research Experiences for Undergraduates

What is an REU?

  • Competitive summer research programs in the United States predominately for undergraduates studying science, engineering or math, with some in social sciences.
  • Among the most prestigious summer programs for undergraduates
  • Available in scientific fields such as: physics, math, chemistry, biology, psychology and computer science (See below for more)
  • Ways to gain invaluable insight into the research process and to gain essential technical and non-essential skills
  • Specific research projects, with up to ten undergraduates working with faculty and researchers at the host institution
  • Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and are hosted by various universities across the United States or abroad. These opportunities are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
  • Available at sites in the US or abroad


How REUs work

  • Undergraduate students must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions to qualify for an NSF-funded REU
  • Applications are typically due between February and March
  • Students must contact the individual sites for application materials
  • Programs generally require between one and three letters of reference, a transcript, 0-2 essays, a letter of interest, and a resume

Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel

Selecting an appropriate REU site is essential to a student’s success within the program. Since there is great variability in training environments, within teams of researchers, and between host sites, it is important to ask questions before accepting an offer. There are three important elements to consider:

  • What are the program’s expectations of you? Have the expectations been clearly stated to you? Are they achievable by you? Do you want to achieve them?
  • What is the quality of the research infrastructure? This includes the quality of the library, computers, research instrumentation, etc.
  • What is the program’s past record in working with undergraduates?
  • On what kinds of projects did the participants work? Are these kinds of problems interesting/relevant to you and your intended career path?
  • Where did the participants go after the program ended?
  • What are the supervisor’s expectations of you? Have the expectations been clearly stated? Do you believe that you can meet these expectations? Do you want to meet them?
  • What is the supervisor’s past record in working with undergraduates – with how many students has he/she worked?
  • What did these students learn?
  • How many undergraduate students have presented their research at professional meetings and/or saw technical papers published based on their work? Did these students receive credit in the form of authorship for their work?
  • Who are the current members of the research group?
  • What is their educational background and interests?
  • Can you see yourself working with and learning from them, i.e., do you like them as people?

Additional Information

For more information on selecting an advisor, starting a new project, getting
selected, finding an REU, mentoring issues or program listings, go to WebGURU.