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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?

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 six 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).

The template for your project’s proposed timeline is here. There are two sample timelines in additional tabs of the spreadsheet to show you possible variation in timelines.

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 educational plan that describes 3 to 5 learning objectives for the experience: 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.
All proposals must include a Budget & Commitment form.

  • For individual student submissions, use this 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 this 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 here

Questions about the budget commitment letter can be addressed to Athena Dupont at athena.dupont@usu.edu or (435) 797-3762.

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.

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. For help crafting or updating your Curriculum Vitae, click here.

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, JComm,  Economics and Finance, Accountancy, Psychology, etc.

See the Discipline Category Guide if you are uncertain about the optimal category for your proposal.

Proposal Evaluation

Each proposal will be evaluated by one faculty member and one senior graduate student within the appropriate discipline group for that project. 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)? Does it 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 indicate their own willingness to invest in the student’s (or students’) success?
    • Education Plan:  The student(s) should outline 3 to 5 learning objectives or professional goals to be derived from the project. Does the proposal clearly express how this research project will help the student(s) meet those goals?
Apply for the Spring 2018 URCO

Applications that do not include these 6 completed and finalized documents will not be reviewed.

Applications for the Spring URCO open October 1 and close October 15, 2017. To ask a question, contact Athena at (435) 797-3762.