Deans' Summer Research Fellowships

The Academic Deans of Trinity College take pleasure in awarding the Deans' Summer Fellowships in support of undergraduate research and inquiry in the arts and sciences. The goals of the Deans' Summer Fellowship Program are to strengthen undergraduate research opportunities for undergraduates, to enlarge the scope of undergraduate research conducted on and off campus during the summer, and to provide support to enable undergraduates to extend the period over which they engage in research. A maximum of $3000 will be awarded. Since expenses for research can vary according to field, project, and duration of the project, it is acceptable for students to apply to other funding sources as well as the Deans Summer Research Fellowship, but they will be expected to list all grants to which they are applying. On occasion, we are willing to collaborate with other offices to meet, but not exceed, a student’s budget needs. Note that fellowships are reportable income by IRS rules. See:

Deans' Summer Research Fellowships can support faculty-mentored research in any discipline in the humanities, social sciences and STEM fields and is open to Duke Students enrolled for fall 2023. Preference is given to students whose research is directly related to their senior thesis projects. Those students looking for arts funding should apply to the Benenson Award in the Arts.

See "Application Information" tab for Eligibility and Criteria Information, Application Information and Timeline, Budget Information, FAQs and Mentor Recommendation Information.

Note that fellowships are reportable income by IRS rules. Taxes are not allowable budget line items. See:

Download Lists of Past Deans' Summer Research Fellows:

Updated: 2/21/2023

Eligibility and Criteria

In all cases, Deans' Summer Fellowship projects must be directed by a member of the Duke University faculty and conducted over a period of no less than three weeks during the summer months. Fellowship recipients are expected to be in frequent contact with their advisors over the summer. Students may not be enrolled in courses during the period they designate as their fellowship period. 

With the exception of graduating seniors, all undergraduates in Trinity College are eligible to apply for a Deans' Summer Research Fellowship. Pratt students pursuing a second major in Trinity may also apply in support of on-campus projects related to their second major with A&S faculty. Mentors for Trinity students may be faculty in any Duke school or department. In the case of limited awards, Trinity students will receive priority for funding.

Projects involving interactions with human subjects, either in-person or online, may need approval from the Duke Institutional Review Board. Initial applications should be submitted before applying for DSRF. Read more…

DSRF Applications

The Deans' Summer Research Fellowship application consists of the following sections, to be completed online:

You may preview the entire application at the "Application Preview" Tab below.

  1. Student Information: Please use your student ID (usually starts with a 2)
  2. Faculty Information: Name, email address, and department of your Duke faculty mentor. Your mentor will need to submit a letter of recommendation separately. See below for more information.
  3. Project Information: Short project title, abstract (single paragraph of no more than 250 words), dates, location, special considerations
  4. Project Proposal: A narrative of no more than 3 pages organized into: Background; General Aims and Long Term Objectives; Specific Aims, Short Term Objectives and Methods; References and Literature Review
  5. Budget: Your budget should include the total amount of funds needed for your project and itemized anticipated expenses. Please also list any sources other than DSRF to which you are applying for funding or from whom you have received funds. You may combine funds from multiple sources to meet your total budget request. If you have further questions about budgetary expenses, read more below, and/or contact the BEFORE submitting your application. Information about the costs of summer housing on-campus can be found here.
  6. Human Subjects: If your research includes human subjects, you will be asked to provide additional information for the IRB approval. You must have done an initial consult with IRB before submitting your application.
  7. Transcripts will not be requested, but grades will be pulled from Duke Hub.

You may cut & paste text into the online application from another document.

Budget Information

Deans' Summer Research Fellowships will support expenses associated with a summer research project of at least three consecutive weeks in duration.

Reasonable expenses include:

  • Room and board in order for students to take advantage of an unpaid research opportunity 
  • Fees associated with use of archives, lab equipment, etc.
  • Software Licenses
  • Participant incentives
  • Anything needed to pursue research in a remote setting that is not considered a durable good.
  • Travel to research sites (in compliance with Duke Travel policies)
  • Lab materials of a non-durable nature

Fellowship funds may not be used:

  • As stipend, or salary
  • To purchase personal equipment or durable items (cameras, computers, clothing, etc.),
  • To cover taxes

The maximum award is $3000.

If you’re not sure if one of your expenses fits within the restrictions above, please contact BEFORE submitting your application.

Mentor Recommendation Information

Mentor recommendations are due March 29.

In addition to the application, you will need to provide contact information for your Duke Faculty mentor who will be asked to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf.

A good recommendation demonstrates a strong relationship with your mentor, and your mentor’s thorough knowledge of your planned research project. Your mentor's letter should address the scholarly value of your research project, their assessment of your preparedness and relevant experience for completing the project, and their commitment to providing oversight and feedback to your project, and assistance with resources.

The recommendation submission form will be emailed to your mentor upon submission of your DSRF application. Please notify your mentor in advance that an email will come to them from requesting that they submit their recommendation. Mentor recommendations will be due within one week of the DSRF deadline. We prefer that mentors submit their recommendations in this way. However, letters of recommendation can be sent from your mentor to the URS office via email at


Can non-Duke undergraduates apply?
No, Duke’s DSRF Program is for returning Duke students only.

I have never done any research – will this hurt my chances?
It is advisable to build experience before applying for DSRF. DSRF favors students preparing for senior thesis work and graduation with distinction, but exceptional proposals from rising sophomores and juniors are considered.

If I am awarded a DSRF, may I enroll in a summer course or work another job?
Yes, but you must earmark no less than 3 weeks, full time, for your DSRF project. The most competitive applications typically demonstrate a longer time period than three weeks.

How many people apply for this program and how hard is it to get in?
In each of the past several years, approximately 120-140 students have applied for approximately 35 spaces. This is a competitive program.

What is the timeline?
Applications are due March 22. Students will be notified of their application status by the week of April 17th. 

Is there a waitlist?
There will be a short, unranked waitlist.

Do you wait to accept students after receiving all applications, or is there a rolling admissions process?
The Committee reviews all completed applications before notifying students of decisions. There are no rolling admissions.

May I check whether my application materials have or have not been received?
The online application will be acknowledged as soon as it is submitted; the URS Office will notify students if a letter of recommendation not been received. Please do not contact the office and request an update on your materials.

How important is academic performance in the selection process?
Grades are reviewed during the selection process, but are not the only criteria.

When are reference letters due?
Reference letters are be due a week after the application closes.

Can students apply multiple times for a Deans’ Summer Research Fellowship?
Yes. If you do not receive funding one year, you are encouraged to apply again the next year. There is no guarantee that repeat applications will be funded and it’s wise to get feedback regarding improvements to your first application. Rising seniors pursuing honors thesis or graduation with distinction are given priority in the application review process.

The application requires you to identify other sources of funding you are pursuing and you are encouraged to find other lines of funding such as competitive of end-of-year awards within your major/minor/certificate departments or programs, competitive awards outside of Duke, and others. If you do not know if your major/minor/certificate department or program has awards for student work, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Program Coordinator for details. Some departments list competitive awards information on their website (including APSI and Statistics).

Can a faculty or research mentor from another university serve as my mentor for DSRF?
No. DSRFs must be mentored by Duke Faculty.

What projects have been funded in the past?
You can browse DSRF projects completed in previous years here. Other recently funded projects include:

I’m an international student, can I apply for DSRF?
International students are absolutely eligible for DSRF and encouraged to apply. But keep reading into the next question, because the tax burden for international students can be significant.

What kind of tax impact does the award have? Could it affect my financial aid?
DSRF award funds are taxable and reported to the IRS. Your tax liability will depend on your total income and many other things, but all applicants should consider it when budgeting.

For international students, the tax burden is likely to be especially large—from 10 to 40% depending on your country of origin. So, for example, you might receive a total grant of $3000 but only be able to use $2000 of it towards your project because the other must be paid for taxes. Read here for more information and support.

If you are concerned about how your funding at Duke will work in relationship this award or other summer programs/opportunities, contact your financial aid counselor for further information and advice.

Can DSRF funds be used for projects during fall or spring semesters?

Must DSRF awarded projects be completed by end of summer?
The DSRF funded portion of a research project must be completed before the beginning of the fall term. Overall project development can of course, continue past the summer, but at the start of the fall semester, you are asked to submit a record of actual expenses, return unused funds, and submit a report summarizing your efforts. This will be used to create reports and shared with the larger Duke Community.

Updated: 2/21/2023