NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Website Eligibility Deadline Undergraduates TBA
(typically early March)


The SURF Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission. Since 1993, SURF students from across the country have had the opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting edge technology in one of the world's leading research organizations and home to three Nobel Prize winners.

Over the course of 11 weeks, SURF students contribute to the ongoing research of one of the seven NIST facilities which are the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), Engineering Laboratory (EL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Material Measurement Laboratory (MML), NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), and Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML). The SURF Program is administered at the Boulder, Colorado, and Gaithersburg, Maryland, locations. U.S. colleges or universities (not individual students) must submit applications for participation in the SURF Program.


  • Open to United States citizens or permanent residents.
  • Applicants must be enrolled as undergraduates in U.S. colleges or universities as of the application deadline.
  • Students must have a GPA of 3.0/4.0 or better (recommended), and are considering pursuing a graduate degree (MS or PhD).
  • Students with physics, material science, chemistry, applied mathematics, computer science, or engineering majors are always encouraged to apply.

Application Procedure

Students who are interested in applying to SURF should contact Karen Dunn in the Office of Research and Technology Management. (Contact info is below.) Application packages must be submitted by the student’s academic institution.

When applying, students should indicate their first- and second-choice programs from among the six possible choices. Applications may be considered by any of the programs, with preference given to the student’s indicated choices.

The application package includes the following documents:

  • Students must complete the following application components and submit to the university contact for inclusion in the institution application:
    • Application checklist
    • Student application form
    • Resume
    • Transcript: Please submit unofficial transcripts only.
    • Two letters of recommendation: Please request the letters from individuals who are knowledgeable about your academic achievements and research experience. Feel free to ask your professors (current and past), research mentors, or internship supervisors.
    • Letter of intent or personal statement: The letter should contain information that helps the review committee make an informed decision about the student, such as why the student wishes to participate in the SURF program in Gaithersburg, Maryland and what areas of NIST research interest the student. (example personal statement )
      Proof of U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency: Proof includes a copy of an unexpired U.S. Passport, birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or unexpired green card.
  • Institution application component:
    • Federal forms: SF-424, SF-424A, SF-424B, CD-511, and SF-LLL (optional; see instructions )
    • Proposal: Provides background information about the academic institution such as degree programs, university accolades, and the names/description of students nominating to participate in the program.
    • Submits items 1 and 2 in addition to the student application component via

The application package is available here.

Value of the Award

SURF students receive stipends, housing and travel allotments (as needed), and supplemental funding for students commuting locally to NIST not eligible for housing. Students who complete the 11-week program will receive a $5,500 stipend. Students that can not make the full 11-week program will be paid at $500 per week.

Additionally, students accepted in the SURF Program residing within the local commuting area and not eligible for NIST-provided housing are entitled to supplemental commuting allotments up to $500. (The amount is at the discretion of the accepted laboratory.) 


CWRU Contact:
Karen Dunn
Office of Research Administration
615 Nord Hall

SURF Contact:
Brandi Toliver
NIST SURF Managing Program Director

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