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Eligibility and Application Questions

What are my chances of being selected to participate in SPIRE?
We expect that the application process for the SPIRE will be competitive. To maximize your chances of receiving an award, please review the application instructions carefully and follow them closely.

Is SPIRE open to all majors?
Yes, students from any major conducting research in any field may submit a SPIRE Proposal

I am not a US citizen or permanent resident. Am I still eligible to submit a SPIRE Proposal?
You do not need to be a US citizen or permanent resident to apply. However, if you are a non-US citizen, your visa status must permit you to receive SPIRE funds. If you experience difficulties determining whether your visa status qualifies you to receive these funds, please inquire with OUR (, and we will work to refer you to university officials who can assist you.

I am planning to graduate in December. May I still submit a SPIRE Proposal?
Yes. You may apply as long as you will be enrolled at UMD (or in an approved study abroad program) in the fall semester after your SPIRE research takes place.

I'm technically a senior at the end of the spring semester in terms of credits, but I'm not planning to graduate until December (or spring of next year). May I still apply? 
Yes. You may apply as long as you will be enrolled at UMD (or in an approved study abroad program) in the fall semester after your SPIRE research takes place.

I received and accepted an awar
d from the Maryland Summer Scholars Program (SPIRE's predecessor program) in the past. Am I eligible to submit a SPIRE Proposal
You are eligible to apply, but the selection committee may choose to give priority to students who are seeking their first award. 

How do I get a PDF of my unofficial transcript?
Please visit Testudo, click the "Unofficial Transcript" link, and enter the requested information.​

Student Proposal Questions

My proposed project will require human subject research. Do I need to get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for it? 
Yes. If your proposed summer research project involves human subject research, you must have IRB approval to pursue research through the SPIRE. You should discuss the question about IRB approval with your mentor before application.  Your mentor will verify IRB approval
with us while evaluating your proposal.

Do SPIRE proposals require the proposed research plan to be performed on campus in College Park?  Can research be completed remotely?

OUR seeks to build a community of undergraduate researchers on campus in College Park this summer. We recognize, however, that sometimes research must be performed at remote locations due to the subjects and methods engaged.  If your proposal involves research that will not be completed on campus in College Park, you must fully describe the necessity for the research engagement elsewhere and provide clear reasons for the specific alternative location. At this time, SPIRE can only support remote research projects conducted within the United States.

If I propose that my project will occur remotely or outside of College Park, how do I address the Research Community Statement? 

OUR hopes to foster a community of researchers among SPIRE students through workshops, seminars, and networking opportunities on campus during the summer. Should your research occur remotely or off-campus, please use this question to propose strategies or approaches that could be leveraged to develop a sense of community between on-campus and remote SPIRE researchers. 

What policies govern intellectual property co-created by undergraduates participating in the SPIRE program?

The University of Maryland's intellectual property policy can be found here. If you have questions related to intellectual property in the context of the particular project on which you are proposing to work as a SPIRE student, please discuss them with your prospective research advisor.

Faculty Mentor Questions

How do I find a faculty mentor for my project? 
There is no formal process for finding a SPIRE mentor.


Most students find mentors by:

  • approaching professors whose classes they have taken

  • speaking with professors with whom they are already engaged in research

  • identifying faculty in their major or minor department who share their interests and approaching them with ideas for a SPIRE Proposal


Your current instructors or undergraduate major or minor advisors may help point you to potential mentors.

May I work with someone at the University of Maryland who is not a professor? 
If an appropriate UMD mentor for your project does not have a faculty appointment but has a position of comparable expertise/responsibility at the University, that is acceptable.


I am in the FIRE program.  Can I apply to work with my FIRE Faculty Leader?

No.  FIRE Faculty Leaders are committed full-time to the OUR IRIE program during the summer.  If you wish to work with your FIRE Faculty Leader or a different FIRE stream, you must apply for OUR IRIE.

Can a professor from a different university serve as my SPIRE faculty mentor? 
No. Your SPIRE mentor must be a faculty member (or an individual holding a position of comparable expertise/responsibility) from the University of Maryland. 

Funding Questions

Can I use SPIRE to fund participation in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program? 
SPIRE cannot be used to pay for participation in an REU that is not based on a student-driven research proposal or consists primarily of research activities not proposed by the student.

Can I use SPIRE to pay for a study abroad program that includes research? 

No, SPIRE cannot be used with a study abroad program. (Please see our discussion of remote research above.)

Can I have a part-time job while carrying out my SPIRE project?
Yes, as long as you can devote approximately 20 hours a week to your project during the duration of SPIRE. Please indicate your employment plans in your application proposal, including the number of hours/w
eek you expect to need to work. If you receive the award, you will be expected to schedule work hours that do not conflict with SPIRE research and activities.

Can I be paid a wage by my advisor's research group while I am participating in SPIRE? 

You may not receive SPIRE funding and a wage for your work on a single research project. 

If I am invited to participate in SPIRE and I also receive an offer to support my summer research from another UMD program, can I accept both offers?

You may not receive summer funding from both SPIRE and another UMD program.

Does OUR provide housing? 

We are not able to provide housing. However, SPIRE Students can find off-campus housing resources through The University of Maryland's Off-Campus Housing Services

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Have a question that is not covered by this FAQ, or not sure how a response to this FAQ relates to your particular situation? 
We are happy to answer questions! Please consult with the Office of Undergraduate Research ( before investing time in preparing application materials. 

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