FAQ

Please select any of these frequently asked questions for more information. 
  
General Program Questions
What is the I-SURF program?
How long is the program?
Will I receive a stipend for participating in the program? If I have questions or comments about the program, who should I contact?
  
Eligibility
Who is eligible to apply to the I-SURF program?
Do I need to have prior research experience to apply?
Is there a minimum GPA to apply to the program?
  
Application
How do I apply for the I-SURF program and what are the deadlines?
How do I write the Personal Statement?
How do I choose my research project?
Can I work on more than one research project?
How do I submit the supplemental documents for my application?
Who should write my letters of recommendation and what should they include?
How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
How do I change my recommenders after I've submitted my application?
How do I submit evidence of financial resources to cover the program fees?
  
Program Acceptance and Preparation
When will I know the status of my application?
What happens after I get accepted to the program?
How will I arrange my housing?
How will I arrange transportation to the UC Irvine campus?
What should I bring if I'm accepted to the program? 
Do I have to participate in all 10 weeks of the I-SURF program?
  
Student Life
What type of house will I be living in?
What is UC Irvine and the city of Irvine like?
Can I enroll in summer classes if I am accepted to the program?
  
Program Components
What is a normal day in the I-SURF program?
How do I work with my faculty mentor? 
Will I have the chance to develop my communication skills?
Will I learn about career and graduate school options in this field?
  
After the Program
How will I continue my research after the program ends?
  
  
General Program Questions
  
What is the I-SURF program?
The International Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (I-SURF) at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates to become fully immersed in cutting-edge faculty-mentored research. Participants have the opportunity to choose from a variety of challenging and original research projects that explore a diverse and exciting range of topics in a variety of fields. 
  
How long is the program?
The program lasts for 9 weeks during the summer; a tenth week may be possible, depending on student availability and approval of the mentor. All participants must be available to attend the full duration of the program. 
  
Will I receive a stipend for participating in the program?
No. All participants are responsible for covering the program fee of $10,000 as well as additional expenses. Students' financial responsibilities are covered fully here
  
If I have questions or comments about the program, who should I contact?
We welcome any questions or feedback about the program. Please select the Contact Us section of this site, and complete the form. A program administrator will follow up with you to address your inquiry. More specific program related questions or suggestions should be addressed to Said M. Shokair, I-SURF Director. 
  
  
Eligibility 
   
Who is eligible to apply to the I-SURF program? 
Applicants must be non-graduating undergraduates from any university or community college with Junior standing (completed the first two years of a related degree program) obtained by the beginning of the I-SURF program. Applicants should also be highly motivated, high-achieving students wanting to pursue research and advanced studies. Applicants must be international students who are not currently pursuing a degree at UC Irvine. All participants in the program must also be able to show evidence of the financial resources to cover the costs of the program. 
  
Do I need to have prior research experience to apply?
No, you do not need to have prior research experience. This can be your first experience conducting research. 
  
Is there a minimum GPA to apply to the program?
A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for students to apply to the program. All applicants must be in good academic standing and be able to demonstrate high levels of academic achievement. 
  
  
Application
  
How do I apply for the I-SURF program and what are the deadlines?
The I-SURF application should be submitted online. The online application guides you through completing a personal profile, uploading a personal statement, selecting and ranking the projects you are most interested in, and registering two individuals who will submit letters of recommendation on your behalf. This information must be completed by the Application Deadline.  After submitting your online application, you are required to forward additional documents in support of your application, including transcripts, and a copy of your passport. Individuals providing letters of recommendation on your behalf have the option of submitting these letters online or mailing an original letter. These supplemental materials (transcripts, passport, evidence of the financial resources to cover the costs of the program, and letters of recommendation) must be received by the Supplemental Document Deadline. To be considered for the program, all materials must be received by the posted deadlines. 
  
How do I write the Personal Statement?
As you are completing your online application, you will be asked to upload a personal statement in a PC Word or PDF format. The personal statement is an important component of the application, and tells us who you are, why you want to pursue this research, and what impact you expect this experience to have on your future career. The personal statement should elaborate on the I-SURF research projects that you have selected, why they were chosen, your experience relevant to the projects, and how the projects will help you meet your long-term education and career goals. You may include any other relevant experience or related coursework that you feel has helped prepare you for this program. The appropriate length for your personal statement is approximately 2-3 pages, double-spaced. 
  
How do I choose my research project?
As you are completing the online application, you are asked to select and rank the five projects that interest you the most. To help you choose your top five projects, you should read the overviews of all available projects, along with information on related faculty, facilities, prerequisites and publications. If you are accepted to the program, every effort will be made for you to work on one of the projects you have chosen. 
  
Can I work on more than one research project?
No. Your time will be spent immersed in one project over the duration of the program. However, once in the program, you will be able to learn about other projects by interacting with other students and listening to their presentations and discussions in seminars and the Research Symposium.
  
How do I submit the supplemental documents for my application?
Because of the time required for international mail, it is best to send these documents to us electronically. Scan your passport and transcripts for all colleges and universities you have attended (including course grades for the most recent term) and e-mail them to us at urop@uci.edu. These documents must be received no later than the Supplemental Document Deadline. No positions will be offered to an applicant unless all supporting documents are received.
  
Who should write my letters of recommendation and what should they include?
You must provide two letters of recommendation. Each letter should be written by someone who has closely interacted with you and can effectively comment on your academic performance, research abilities, relevant skills, ability to collaborate with a team, and preparation for this program. Letters of recommendation should ideally come from professors who have worked with you as a research supervisor, academic advisor, or course instructor. You should choose your recommenders well before submitting your application so that you can discuss the program in detail and give them time to prepare information on your behalf.
  
How do I submit my letters of recommendation? 
Your letters of recommendation come directly from the individuals writing the letter on your behalf. As you are completing your online application, you will be asked to identify two individuals who will submit letters of recommendation on your behalf, including their titles and e-mail addresses. After submitting your application, an e-mail will be sent to your recommenders, asking them to complete an online recommendation form. Your recommenders have the option of uploading a PC Word or PDF version of the letter of recommendation online or mailing an original hard copy. If your recommenders prefer to mail your letters of recommendation, rather than submit them online, they should mail the letters directly to the I-SURF Program address.  
  
Your letters of recommendation must be received no later than the Supplemental Document Deadline. You are responsible for making sure your recommenders are aware of this requirement. An application is considered incomplete if the letters of recommendation are missing. 
  
How do I change my recommenders after I've submitted my application?
After you submit your application, you will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of your submission. This e-mail includes a link and a code, allowing you to access and change your application information. You can change your recommenders by accessing your application and registering new individuals to send letters of recommendations on your behalf. An e-mail will be generated and sent to the new recommender, asking them to submit their letter of recommendation online or mail to the I-SURF Program address by the Supplemental Document Deadline
  
How do I submit evidence of financial resources to cover the program fees?
This may be provided by your sponsor or through your own personal resources and should be e-mailed to us at urop@uci.edu. The information must be received by the Supplemental Document Deadline. No positions will be offered to an applicant unless all supporting documents are received.
  
  
Program Acceptance and Preparation
  
When will I know the status of my application?
Notifications begin in mid-April and be concluded no later than the end of May. All applicants will be notified whether they have been accepted to the program. 
  
What happens after I get accepted to the program?
After being accepted as an I-SURF Participant, we will send you a printed letter of acceptance and coordinate with the UC Irvine International Center to issue you a DS-2019 form. You must then complete an application for a J-1 visa for non-degree students at a U.S. embassy or consulate (the application may also be available online) and pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor) fee. After this, you must complete an interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate, for which you must provide the DS-2019 form, letter of acceptance, passport, and proof of financial resources to cover the program costs. When you receive your visa, scan it and e-mail the copy to us at urop@uci.edu. You must also pay the program fee and purchase your round-trip airfare at this point.

After you confirm your acceptance, you will be advised of the research project you will be working on. Your faculty mentor will contact you to further discuss the project, address any questions you may have, and recommend literature to prepare for your upcoming involvement. UC Irvine will also contact you to coordinate your housing.
  
How will I arrange my housing?
Prior to the start of the program, UC Irvine will contact you to help coordinate your housing. The I-SURF program fee covers housing for participants. 
  
How will I arrange transportation to the UC Irvine campus?
You are responsible for your travel costs to and from UC Irvine. Arrange for round-trip airfare to either Los Angeles (LAX) or Orange County (SNA) airports. 
  
What should I bring if I'm accepted to the program? 
Your house provides a bed, furniture, all major kitchen appliances, and allows for Internet access, including Web and e-mail. You need to bring personal items you need for the 10 weeks of the program. Bring clothes for warm weather and something warmer for the cool evenings by the beach.
  
Do I have to participate in all 9 weeks of the I-SURF program? 
If you are accepted to the I-SURF program, you must be available to participate for the full 9 weeks of the program. Please review the program dates carefully to ensure your availability.
  
  
Student Life
  
What type of house will I be living in?
I-SURF Fellows receive housing at Arroyo Vista, a unique on-campus housing facility. Bedrooms are designed for double occupancy, and rooms are shared between two students of the same gender. Each room is fully furnished with a bed, desk, chair, bookshelf, wardrobe, and drawer space for each student. Rooms also feature Ethernet connections, and allow for internet access, including Web and e-mail. The house is complete with all major kitchen appliances, a spacious living room with cable TV, a study room, and coin-operated laundry facilities. 
  
What is UC Irvine and the city of Irvine like?
UC Irvine is in the heart of sunny Southern California, famous for its perpetually sunny and spring-like weather. UC Irvine's location offers students a large number of local spots and activities to enjoy. The campus is five miles from the Pacific Ocean, and driving distance from local museums, sports venues, concert halls, zoos, and theme parks, including Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Sea World, Magic Mountain, and Wild Rivers. Beautiful Catalina Island is just offshore. The UC Irvine campus encircles the 21-acre Aldrich Park, and the campus itself is a natural arboretum planted with trees and shrubs from all over the world. Ring Road, a mile-circumference walkway circling Aldrich Park, is the pedestrian thoroughfare that connects the classrooms, eateries, libraries, laboratories, and housing. The Ring also serves as the outdoor staging for a full calendar of cultural and social activities. Bike trails connect UC Irvine to student housing and to the beach, and pedestrian bridges connect students to local movie theaters, restaurants, shops and businesses.
  
Can I enroll in summer classes if I am accepted to the program?
No, you may not enroll in summer classes. The I-SURF program is a full-time program that will require your complete involvement. 
  
  
Program Components
  
What is a normal day in the I-SURF program?
A normal day starts at 8:00 and end at 5:30, with an hour break for lunch. Each day is unique, and may include a variety of activities such as seminars, workshops and tours. You also have devoted research time with your faculty mentor, to be completely immersed in your research project. Social activities throughout the week give you a chance to get to know other students, faculty, and administrators, including Deans and the Vice Chancellor for Research. After 5:30, your time is free to explore on and around campus. Several planned weekend activities give you the chance to make the most of your experience in Southern California and with other I-SURF Fellows.
  
How do I work with my faculty mentor?
Your faculty mentor provides you with training and guidance on your research project. Your mentor also meets with you to discuss your progress, address questions, help you develop critical skills, and help you with questions regarding your graduate school, career, and research goals. 
  
Will I have the chance to develop my communication skills?
Yes. A series of workshops, along with guidance from your faculty mentors, will help you develop your writing and presentation skills. You will also have a chance to use these skills by developing and delivering formal presentations and papers on your research.
  
Will I learn about career and graduate school options in this field?
Yes. You will participate in workshops with faculty and outside professionals to help you learn about graduate school and career opportunities in the your field. Your faculty mentor will also be available to help address questions and provide guidance. 
  
  
After the Program

How will I continue my research after the program ends?
After the program, you are encouraged to continue your research efforts under a faculty mentor at your home university. Additionally, you will continue to receive e-mail updates and will be encouraged to present your research findings at undergraduate research conferences, as well as other conferences highlighting micro/nano research and applications. Within the year following the program, you will be eligible to request travel funding to present at a local undergraduate research conference.