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Thesis Funding

Important announcement regarding summer 2020 senior thesis research funding applications

As we continue to monitor events related to the Coronavirus outbreak, your health and safety remain our priority. For this reason and out of an abundance of caution, the Office of Undergraduate Research will not be awarding senior thesis research funding to projects requiring international travel, domestic travel, or on-campus residency this summer. We understand this news will come as a disappointment to many of you who invested time and energy in your funding proposals already.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, we want to give you time to consult with your faculty adviser and, if possible, revise your research plan to something that can be accomplished remotely from your primary place of residence. We recognize revising your research plan will be challenging; we encourage you to think creatively and exercise flexibility as you consider making adjustments during these uncertain times. Please note that in response to COVID-19, over five million books from Princeton University Library’s print collection are now available to all Princeton students; please reach out to library staff for assistance on conducting research online.

We have extended OUR’s thesis research funding application deadline to 11:55 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020.  

If you have already submitted a senior thesis research funding proposal in SAFE, you should submit your revised project using the ‘Project Changes’ section of your existing proposal (do not create a new application).  Your revised project statement should address the following:

  • New project start / end dates
  • Revised itemized budget (please see the revised list of allowable expenses below)
  • Description of changes to the scope of the project, research methodologies and goals

Expenses covered for summer of 2020:

  • Stipend for living expenses from student's primary place of residence (generally, up to a maximum of 10 weeks)
  • Books (covered only when not available online through University library)
  • Database access costs
  • Payments to Human Subjects: departmental and IRB approval required, no in-person interviews permitted (maximum of $3,000 for surveys)
  • Software specific to your research project not available through your department
  • Off-campus laboratory data acquisition

Expenses not covered for summer 2020:

  • Domestic or international travel
  • Visa applications
  • Rental or use of vehicles
  • Vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases
  • Purchase of local phone or SIM card
  • Conference fees
  • Consumable laboratory supplies not covered by an existing lab grant

A.B. senior thesis funding opportunities, including from individual academic departments, the Office of the Dean of the College, and other offices and programs on campus are posted through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE). The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) administers the Dean of the College thesis funding through the OUR Senior Thesis Research Funding Program.

B.S.E. students seeking support may apply for the School of Engineering and Applied Science thesis and independent work funds.

OUR Senior Thesis Research Funding


All A.B. undergraduates seeking support for senior thesis research related to their concentration and/or certificate program may apply to the Office of Undergraduate Research for funding. Certificate-specific funding requests should list a faculty affiliated with the certificate program as their faculty adviser. Students applying for funding are eligible for thesis funds available through the Office of the Dean of the College; the match between funder and project will be made during the selection process.

When to Apply

There are multiple opportunities to apply for funding from OUR:

  • In the spring of junior year, rising seniors may apply for funding to support senior thesis research to be conducted during the summer
  • In early fall of senior year, students may apply for funding for research to be conducted over fall break
  • In mid fall, students may apply for funding for research to be conducted during winter break / intersession.

For OUR senior thesis research funding application dates and deadlines, please consult the PURC calendar.  

Students may not schedule travel that conflicts with their end-of-semester exam schedule or academic obligations.

We encourage you to start working on your application materials early so that you have ample time to meet the strict deadlines set by the various funding sources.

How to Apply

Your application must be made through SAFE.

Students applying to the OUR senior thesis research funding program are required to apply for all departmental and programmatic funds for which they are eligible in one single application.  You will be able to save your application in SAFE and go back to it, but you must complete and submit the application by the earliest deadline of all the funding sources to which you are applying; no changes will be accepted once applications are submitted and locked, except for the selection of additional funding opportunities when eligible.

The application will ask for a full account of your research proposal, a detailed budget, and a planned itinerary.  You will also be asked to provide the name of your thesis adviser. If your adviser has not yet been assigned, you may ask the faculty member who you hope to advise your thesis to evaluate your project; if in doubt please consult with your departmental representative about who might be the best person to evaluate your proposal.  No project will be funded without a strong faculty endorsement. We strongly encourage you to take the time to submit a thoughtful and thorough proposal for one or all rounds of funding for which you are eligible. Please be sure to read the application carefully and complete it in its entirety.

For instructions, tips and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit User Resources for the Students Activities Funding Engine and search under resources for students and groups.

Budget Preparation and Justification

Please take care to develop a thorough, accurate, and reasonable budget and justify your estimated costs in your project statement. You are encouraged to consult the list of allowable expenses below when building your budget.

Expenses Covered - For summer 2020, see revised list above

Costs are expected to be moderate; you are responsible for researching competitive pricing in order to maintain reasonable costs.

  • Travel to research sites (unless the site is within 25 miles of your home town or country and/or on the State Department warning list): Concur travel request approval is required for domestic and international travel no later than one week prior to research (you should submit well in advance). For a list of restrictions regarding the rental or use of vehicles while on University-sponsored domestic and international trips, see the University Travel website.
  • Visa applications
  • Weekly living expenses: food (meal budget is limited to $25 per day), accommodation and local transportation (off-campus only and expected to be through public transport unless safety is a concern).
  • Vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination.
  • Purchase of local phone or SIM card (covered only when safety is a concern and limited to local research-related or emergency calls).
  • Conference fees only if you are making a presentation ($500 maximum)
  • Books (covered only when they are not owned by the University or when the University decides it will not purchase them for the library)
  • Photocopying
  • Payments to Human Subjects: departmental and IRB approval required (maximum of $3,000 for surveys)
  • Consumable laboratory supplies not covered by an existing lab grant
  • Off-campus laboratory data acquisition
  • Software specific to your research project not available through your department

Expenses Not Covered - For summer 2020, see revised list above

  • Overnight stay in New York City and Philadelphia
  • Purchase of capital equipment such as binoculars, recording or electronic machinery (we may cover rental costs)
  • General laboratory equipment
  • Transcription services
  • Payment to individuals for services rendered (with the exception of human subjects)
  • Travel to home town or country
  • Ordinarily, expenses incurred for research conducted on campus (e.g. housing, food) during the summer months; exceptions may be made for students on financial aid who make a compelling case for research on campus ($4,500 maximum award)
  • Entertainment and/or personal expenses
  • Tuition for instructional programs
  • Passport applications
  • Thesis binding
  • Although not covered by your research grant, we strongly recommend travel insurance. If your research destination is added to the State Department warning list prior to travel, or if the University deems the destination unsafe, you will be responsible for returning the total award because the University cannot fund student travel in these circumstances.

The following exceptions also apply:

  • Students engaged in paid laboratory work sponsored by a faculty member or departmental grant are not eligible for senior thesis research funding.
  • If the thesis research you plan to conduct is expected to take place during the term of your internship, you are not eligible for senior thesis research funding. Exceptions may be made with the explicit recommendation of your University program or internship sponsor; please contact the appropriate person in order to inquire about possible approval before submitting this application.

Application Support

Please consult the central calendar PURC to learn about information sessions, workshops, and other resources made available in support of the senior thesis funding application. For answers to frequently asked questions regarding the SAFE submission process, please visit the SAFE Student FAQ.

Review and Award Process

Once the deadline of your earliest funding opportunity has passed, the faculty member you have listed as your adviser will be automatically notified and directed to log in to answer a series of evaluative questions about your proposal. If you are planning to apply for funds, speak with your adviser as soon as possible about your application — the notification of your application should not be their first indication of their involvement with your intended research.

Your application and your adviser’s evaluation will be reviewed by your departmental representative, who will answer a short series of evaluative questions.

Applications without both an adviser and a departmental representative evaluation will not be considered, nor will late submissions.

Our review process takes into account the following:

  • the quality of your proposal and the strength of the departmental endorsement
  • the feasibility of your budget (please take care to provide accurate and detailed estimates of the costs you will incur)
  • the number and quality of requests for funding made by the senior class (we do not have sufficient funds to fully fund all proposals).

Dean of the College funds will not be assigned until all other awards have been made.

Financial Information

Upon acceptance of the Office of Undergraduate Research senior thesis research award, you agree to OUR’s funding terms and conditions as outlined in SAFE and your award letter. Your award is based on the budget you submitted and is considered a contract and should be used to cover the specific expenses listed in your budget. The timing of your activity may not allow you to be in receipt of the funds before research commences and until you fulfill all requirements. It is  recommended that you begin the process in advance. To expedite this, we suggest that you establish direct deposit with the University as soon as you submit your proposal, if applicable, submit for IRB or IACUC approval, and submit a travel request through Concur.

Post Project Requirements (PPR)

Expense report: Upon your return, you are required to substantiate all of your expenses (except for the $25/day stipend for food, when applicable) by uploading your receipts in SAFE (do not upload receipts in Concur). Please note that you are required to provide a full account of the funding you received for your research project (including portions of the award covered by other funders, if applicable). Unspent funds must be returned via a check or money order made out to “Princeton University” and delivered to the Office of Undergraduate Research at 36 University Place, Suite 340. If you received funding from multiple offices, you should return your unused funds to OUR up to the amount that was awarded by OUR, and return the balance to the funder that awarded the largest amount among the other funders.

In addition to your expense report, you must upload a 1-2 paragraph (< 300 words) summary of your thesis research in SAFE. The summary should be a narrative account of the research you undertook with the support of OUR’s award, any findings that either confirmed or changed your hypothesis, and efforts remaining to complete your research.

The deadline to complete your PPR will be specified in your award letter. To request an extension, bring a signed copy of the  PDF iconSTR-PPR Extension Form_2020.pdf to the Office of Undergraduate Research located at 36 University Place, Suite 340.

Email Enquiries

Feel free to contact with any questions about the funding process. Questions pertaining specifically to SAFE, outside of student FAQ's, should be directed to


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