OURSIP FAQs

Key OURSIP program dates for AY2324

  • Application opens in GPS: Jan 8, 2024
  • Priority application deadline: Feb 26, 2024, 11:55 pm EST
  • Final application deadline: April 1, 2024, 11:55 pm EST
  • Faculty / research adviser commitment form deadline: Priority application deadline (or no later than final application deadline - see above)
  • Decision period: Mar 5 - end of Apr, 2024
  • Residential summer program: June 3 - August 2, 2024
  • Research summary statement and program survey deadline: TBD
  • Participation in program outreach panel: Fall 2024

General program information  

Q. What is OURSIP?

OURSIP stands for the Office of Undergraduate Research – Student Initiated Internship Program and is a nine-week summer research program for Princeton first and second year students. OURSIP provides a limited number of grants to students who have independently created or secured an unpaid faculty-mentored research internship over the summer. 

OURSIP is a residential program for all fellows conducting research on-campus. On-campus fellows take part in the Summer Research Colloquium. While priority is given to on-campus projects, a limited number of off-campus projects (i.e. taking place at a US institution other than Princeton) are funded each year. 

Q. What can I expect to gain from OURSIP?

  • Explore your interest in different fields of research before deciding on your departmental major at the end of sophomore year.
  • Deepen your understanding of concepts learned in the classroom by applying your knowledge to novel research questions. 
  • Gain valuable academic mentorship.
  • Preview what independent work looks like in a department.

Finding a faculty and a research project

Q. What steps should I take to find a faculty adviser for my OURSIP application?

  • Consult the faculty directory page of departments / programs of interest and make a short list of faculty whose research you find interesting. 
  • Email individual faculty to introduce yourself, explain why you are interested in their research specifically, and request a meeting to learn more about their work (provide your availability to make scheduling easy). Resend email (with a nice note) if you don't hear from them after a few days. 
  • Meet with the faculty to find out more about their research (see next question) and get a sense of their mentorship style. Take notes! Ask for further readings. 
  • Send a follow up email with your questions, see if you can meet with their graduate students and postdocs and tour their research space. 
  • If your interest in the research continues to grow and your interactions with the faculty and their group members are productive and friendly, see if they could mentor you this summer, discuss possible projects (make sure you let them know you are considering applying for OURSIP funding).

Q. What type of questions should I ask when meeting with a faculty or a member of their research group?

  • What are some papers or journals I can read to familiarize myself with your field?
  • Are there shadowing opportunities in your lab or research group?
  • What does a typical day look like for you or someone in your field?
  • What courses should I consider taking to prepare for research in your field?

Q. What should I consider when choosing a mentor for OURSIP?

Being an OURSIP fellow is an opportunity to fully immerse yourself in hands-on research over the summer. When deciding on which experience will be the best fit for you, ask yourself the following. How excited am I about the research topic? What will my day-to-day experience be like? Who will I work most closely with (most likely a graduate student or postdoc) and can I imagine myself working alongside them for nine weeks? What is their mentoring style and will my work style be a good fit with theirs?

Program eligibility and funding support 

Q. Who is eligible to apply to OURSIP? 

All currently enrolled Princeton first and second year students are eligible to apply. Students must maintain active enrollment at Princeton from the time of their application through the conclusion of the program, which is the following fall. 

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to support research experiences that complement the student’s academic interest. No previous research experience is necessary. All fields are welcome, including disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

Juniors who are seeking funding support for their senior thesis research over the summer are not eligible for OURSIP grants and should apply through the senior thesis funding activity type in SAFE instead. Occasionally, juniors with projects that are not related to their senior thesis research may also be considered for OURSIP funding; please contact [email protected] for additional information.

Q. If I am on a leave of absence, can I still apply?

If you are expected to return in fall 2024, you may seek approval to apply for OURSIP from your college dean. If you are expected to return from leave in February 2025, you are not eligible for this opportunity. Applications from students on a leave of absence will not be reviewed until the applicant discusses their plan with their residential college dean and their dean has notified OUR. Please review the Summer Program Funding policy here for more information.

Q. What does OURSIP funding cover?

OURSIP funding comes in the form of a weekly stipend intended to cover living expenses incurred during the length of the internship; these include the cost of food, lodging and miscellaneous expenses. The 2024 stipend rate will be announced later in the year. 

Both on-campus and off-campus fellows are eligible to apply for funds to cover research-related expenses (up to a maximum of $500); please consult the list of allowable expenses when preparing your itemized research budget request in the OURSIP application.

Off-campus fellows may request supplemental funds to cover travel expenses to and from the internship host, unless the site is within 25 miles of their hometown. All off-campus fellows are required to submit their travel plans to the Enroll My Trip platform (link is external) and receive approval no later than one week prior to research.

Q. How and when will I receive my stipend?

If you are enrolled in direct-deposit, you will receive your stipend award as an electronic transfer three to five days after the award is paid in SAFE. If you are not enrolled, you will receive a paper-check to the address that Princeton Treasury has on file, which may take longer.

  • On-campus OURSIP interns receive the portion of their stipend intended for miscellaneous expenses as a lump sum payment typically sometime during the week before the start of the program. The remaining portion of the award intended for on-campus housing and dining expenses is paid directly to Conference and Event Services. 

  • Off-campus OURSIP interns receive a lump sum payment to cover nine weeks of food, lodging, and miscellaneous expenses prior to the start of their internship; students should carefully budget their funds so they last the entire nine weeks.

Applying to OURSIP 

WHEN?

Q. When can I apply to OURSIP?

The OURSIP application typically opens in early January, has a priority application deadline around the end of February and a final application deadline in early April (for exact dates, consult the program dates at the top of this document). Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis or until available funds are depleted (whichever occurs earlier). We recommend you submit your application materials as soon as you are able. 

Q. What if I miss the final application deadline?

In fairness to the students who submitted their funding proposals by the deadline, we are generally unable to accept late funding applications unless there is a clear extenuating circumstance or technical issue. As other opportunities may still be open in GPS or SAFE, we encourage you to search for alternative funds as soon as you are able.

Q. How competitive are the OURSIP grants? How likely is it that my application will be selected for funding?

The selection process looks for proposals with clearly articulated motives that outline relevant methodologies, realistic scope and detailed (week by week) timelines. While we work to fund as many applications as possible, the acceptance rate does vary from year to year based on the application pool. We strongly recommend that you submit all of your application materials by the priority deadline.

THE APPLICATION

Q. What does the application look like? 

There are two OURSIP applications, both of which can be found in GPS. The on-campus application is here and the off-campus application is here. Both applications include: 

  • A program questionnaire, itemized research-related budget, UNOFFICIAL Princeton transcript (obtained via TigerHub), and resume or CV. The program questionnaire includes prompts for a research plan, statement of interest, and a reflection on inclusive-focused action. 
  • An Academic Recommendation /Faculty or Research Adviser Commitment Form: Applicants should identify the faculty or research adviser that will oversee their summer research project and provide their contact information in both the Academic Recommendation section as well as in the OURSIP Application form in GPS; a request will be sent to your research adviser automatically. We encourage you to alert (and remind, if needed) your adviser that they will receive this request via email and that they must complete the form for your application to be deemed complete and eligible for review.

For Off-Campus OURSIP Applicants only: 

  • Second Recommender: If you intend to conduct research at another domestic university, you will be asked to list two recommenders. The first will be your primary research adviser of your external host university. This adviser will fill out the faculty or research adviser commitment form as the mentor supervising your research. You will also be asked to list a Princeton faculty member who will fill out a general recommendation form. In it, they will speak to the strength of the proposed research project and its relevance to your academic development at Princeton. Both forms are requested through the Off-Campus OURSIP Application in GPS in the Recommendation section and the application form.Please discuss your research plans and their relationship to your Princeton course of study with your Princeton faculty member before submitting your application.
  • Funding Disclosure: If you have secured partial funding for off-campus summer research, please include this information in your proposal so that we will know to contact the site for details on co-sponsorship.

Q. The application asks for a “research plan”; what does that look like? 

A research plan describes the primary objectives and associated methods of your proposed research; it should include a description of your main tasks and responsibilities, as well as an envisioned week-by-week timeline for the summer. While your faculty might already have ideas for a project, you should work with them to find a project that is interesting and rewarding for both of you. You’ll want to consult with your mentor for guidance and feedback when writing your research plan and be prepared to revise it with your faculty more than once.

Q. Do I need to have a daily/secondary adviser?

A daily/secondary adviser is not required. We ask this question so we can know who you will be working with on a daily basis; this could be a graduate student or postdoctoral mentor, or lab technician for example. This also ensures that if a faculty adviser is not available for you for some part of the appointment (e.g. traveling to a conference), you still have someone you can go to for advising and feedback.

Q. Who should I list as my academic recommender?

The academic recommendation should list the faculty member who has agreed to mentor your research this summer. Off-Campus OURSIP applicants will list both the faculty member at the host institution who will be their primary mentor as their academic recommender. Off-campus OURSIP applicants will also list a Princeton faculty member who can endorse the student’s research plan as their general recommender. 

Q. I don’t have work experience; who should I list as a workplace recommendation?

You would select “Not applicable, have not had prior employment”.

Reviewing and accepting an OURSIP award 

Q. I’m applying to multiple summer research opportunities. How should I navigate this with my faculty adviser?

What we typically recommend in such circumstances is that you let your faculty adviser know of your plans (transparency is key!) and go ahead with your OURSIP application to keep your options open. Those selected into the program will be informed on a rolling basis and given one week to formally accept their award. If you end up accepting a different opportunity, be sure to let your adviser and [email protected](link sends e-mail) know as soon as possible.

Q. Can I receive my application decision early? What if I’m waiting to hear from another internship opportunity?

Due to the number of applications we receive, we cannot make award determinations early or offer extensions to accommodate a student waiting to hear about another internship opportunity. 

Q. Is my decision to accept or decline the award binding? 

Students selected into the program are given one week to accept or decline their award from the time they receive their selection letter. Your decision is considered final and binding once you sign and return your selection letter to OUR.This allows us to work through the waitlist in the event a selected participant chooses to forgo their award.

Q. Can I enroll in a summer course, a second internship, and/or take on a summer job during the program?

The time requirement for the summer program is 35+ hours per week. Undergraduates participating in OURSIP are expected to fully immerse themselves in research for the duration of the summer program. Funding awarded is for a full-time commitment. Students should refrain from taking on other significant activities that overlap with the program dates; such activities include taking a course for credit (considered a half-time commitment), another internship, or an hourly job in excess of 10 hours per week.

Q. What are the OURSIP program expectations? 

  • Attendance: On-campus OURSIP fellows are expected to be at Princeton Monday-Friday conducting in-person research and to attend the Summer Research Colloquium weekly workshops. Off-campus OURSIP fellows are also expected to commit to approximately 35+ hours per week of research.
  • Safety and Ethics: Complete Environmental Health and Safety (including lab safety), Institutional Review Board (IRB), and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use (IACUC) training, if applicable.
  • Communication: Respond to communication from the Office of Undergraduate Research and your adviser(s) during the program.
  • Program and Post-Program Deliverables: Complete required program video and poster (on-campus fellows only) and post-program intern profile and project summary (all fellows). 
  • Outreach: Serve as an OUR ambassador by undertaking publicity and outreach efforts in the academic year after your internship.
  • Funding Acknowledgment: Acknowledge the support of OUR in any report, publication, or testimonial provided to any University department/program or outside entity that makes reference to this summer internship/research project.

Q.  Can I be absent for part of the summer program? 

OURSIP represents a full-time commitment for the 9 weeks of the program, and the stipend is provided to make full participation possible. On- and off-campus OURSIP fellows should be participating in full-time research during the program weeks.

On-campus OURSIP mentees are required to attend all Summer Research Colloquium workshop sessions, to be physically present on campus Monday-Friday every week for the duration of the program, and to schedule vacations outside of the program dates. As the funding program, OUR makes the final determination around program attendance. For absences related to illness and emergency, please contact OUR as soon as possible. Mentees who receive OUR approval for any planned or unplanned absences are responsible for informing their mentors and coordinating alternative arrangements.

This participation policy is designed to ensure fairness among all the students in the program by asking the same commitment of all participants, as well as to achieve the program’s goals of giving each student a full-time research experience and providing a supportive learning community.

Off-campus OURSIP mentees should seek approval for unplanned or emergency absences from their faculty adviser. 

Preparing for your OURSIP research in the spring

Q. I’d like to start doing research with my mentor this spring; is this possible through OURSIP?

OUR does not fund research assistantships during the academic year, only stipends for summer research internships. If you want to conduct research this spring, you should ask your mentor and faculty PI if they could hire you as a research assistant (RA). (Please note that volunteering is not permitted under University policy.)

Q. What are things I can do to stay in touch with my mentor this spring and get ready for summer? 

There are many steps you can take to prepare yourself for summer research:

  • Ask your mentor to recommend (and discuss) papers relevant to your research project.
  • See if there are opportunities to shadow your mentor and familiarize yourself with relevant research methods.
  • Ask your mentor to introduce you to other members of your research group and department.
  • Look into the possibility of attending group meetings, journal clubs or department seminars with your mentor.
  • Find out from your mentor which health and safety trainings you will be required to do ahead of the summer (and complete them before you start doing research).
  • Introduce yourself to the undergraduate administrator of your host department.

Participating in OURSIP on campus

Q. Will the 2024 on-campus OURSIP program be fully in-person or run remotely? When will the program run? 

We resumed on-campus in person programming in summer 2022. We anticipate we will continue to be in-person for the foreseeable future. The 2024 tentative dates are June 3 - August 2, 2024.

Q. What is the Summer Research Colloquium?

The Summer Research Colloquium (SRC) is a weekly workshop series that runs concurrently to the ReMatch+ and OURSIP summer research programs. SRC workshops focus on best practices in mentorship, communicating research (e.g., writing a research report, presenting research to a general audience), and contributing to a diverse research community. SRC also hosts lunch lectures to expose students to Princeton faculty members, their research, individual paths through academia and experiences with mentorship.

Q. What are the final deliverables of the summer program?

OURSIP fellows will create a 3-minute research video that will be hosted on OUR’s Media Central page. Fellows will also deliver a poster presentation at our end-of-summer conference for Freshman Scholar Institute participants. Finally, mentees prepare a research progress report–an  extended version of  your application proposal with initial results and discussion of next steps)-- to share with their research group. 

Participating in OURSIP off campus 

Q. How do I complete the travel enrollment process

All off-campus fellows are required to submit their travel plans to the Enroll My Trip platform and receive approval no later than one week prior to research.  Therefore, please begin the Enroll My Trip process as soon as possible. If you choose to purchase an airline ticket before completing the enrollment process, it may be advisable to purchase travel insurance in case your travel is not approved. Please also send a copy of your receipt and confirmation to [email protected] once you’ve registered your travel.

Q. Can I receive my award if I did NOT complete travel enrollment in Enroll My Trip?

Unfortunately, by failing to complete your travel enrollment prior to your trip, you lost your eligibility to receive this award. This requirement was clearly stated in your award letter as well as in GPS. Given the University's strict policy about students registering their travel when traveling on Princeton funds, we cannot overlook this requirement. This is an unfortunate situation but all students are held to the same compliance.

Other Questions

Still have questions? Contact us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer them!