Maryland Center for Undergraduate Rresearch at the University of Maryland

Maryland Summer Scholars Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are my chances of being chosen as a Maryland Summer Scholar (MSS)?

The MSS program attracts applications from highly prepared and motivated students, and is competitive. In recent years approximately 50 students have applied annually, with 25-30 awards made.

2. Is the MSS program open to all majors?

The program is open to all students, regardless of major. Students from all colleges have been selected for MSS awards.

3. How do I find a faculty mentor for my MSS research project?

There is no formal process for finding an MSS mentor. Most students find mentors by a) speaking with professors they have studied with, b) speaking with professors they are engaged in research with, or c) identifying faculty in their major or minor department who share their interests and approaching them with ideas for an MSS proposal. Your current teachers, or your undergraduate major or minor advisors, can often be helpful in pointing you to potential mentors.

4. What are the application review criteria?

MSS awards are made competitively, based on an academic review of the project proposal and other required application materials. All aspects of the application are considered carefully. Applications are evaluated by a panel of faculty members, which makes funding recommendations to the Director of the MCUR. Primary criteria for evaluation of proposals are:
  • Academic merit and feasibility of the proposed project
  • Academic and other relevant preparation of the student for the proposed project
  • Clarity and adequacy of the written research plan
  • Degree of student initiative and responsibility for the work proposed
  • Suitability of the proposed mentoring plan
  • Impact of the proposed project on the applicant’s development

5. My proposed Maryland Summer Scholars project will require human subject research. Do I need to get IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for it?

Yes, if your proposed summer research project involves human subject research then you must have IRB approval in order to receive a Maryland Summer Scholars grant. You should discuss the question of IRB approval with your mentor prior to application. Your MSS proposal should specifically address your plans for seeking IRB approval. If you already have IRB approval prior to the application deadline, or if your project in encompassed by your mentor's IRB letter, please submit a copy of the approval letter with your application. If you receive approval after applying but before MSS decisions have been announced, please send us a copy of the approval letter as soon as you have it. If our reviewers recommend your application for an award, but you do not yet have any necessary IRB approval, you will have to begin the IRB application process and receive approval before your award is confirmed - this may significantly delay payment of your summer award.

6. My GPA is 3.38. Will you round my GPA up when considering my application?

No, a cumulative UMD GPA of 3.40 or higher at the time of the application deadline is required for MSS eligibility (GPAs will not be rounded up).

7. I am not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, am I still eligible to apply for an MSS award?

Yes, US Citizenship or permanent residency is not required to apply for MSS awards. However, if you are a foreign citizen, your visa status must permit you to receive MSS funds. Please inquire with MCUR staff if you have questions about your visa eligibility to receive funding.

8. I'm planning to graduate in December 2019. May I still apply for a summer 2019 MSS award?

Yes. As long as you will be enrolled at Maryland (or an approved study abroad program) in the fall semester after your MSS research takes place, you may apply.

9. I'm technically a senior at the end of the coming spring semester (in terms of credits), but I'm not planning to graduate until the following winter or spring. May I still apply?

Yes. As long as you will be enrolled at Maryland (or an approved study abroad program) in the fall semester after your MSS research takes place, you may apply.

10. I received (and accepted) an MSS award last summer (or the summer before), am I eligible to apply for a second MSS award?

You are eligible to apply, but the selection committee may choose to give priority to students who are applying for their first MSS award.

11. I'm going to be studying abroad in this spring semester. How do I apply?

The MSS application is submitted online and via email, and does not require you to be in College Park when you apply.

12. Can I use a Maryland Summer Scholars award to fund participation in an REU (an established undergraduate research program site)?

The MSS award cannot be used to pay for participation in a regularly established research program (REU) that is not based on student-driven research proposal, or that consists primarily of research activities not proposed by the student.

13. Can I use a Maryland Summer Scholars award to pay for a study abroad program, as long as I add a research project to the program?

The MSS award cannot be used primarily to pay for the costs of participating in a study abroad program. If you are proposing a student-driven research project in conjunction with a study abroad program, your proposal should clearly describe substantial additional time (beyond the duration of the study abroad program) devoted to your research project, comparable to the general expectation that students spend approximately 20 hours a week for 8 weeks on their MSS-supported project.

14. I need to earn money over the summer to pay for college expenses, can I have a part-time job while carrying out my MSS research project?

The MSS award is intended to help you accomplish your research objectives, and research should be your primary activity while receiving MSS support. However, if you need to work to save money for college or other expenses, please indicate your employment plans in your application proposal, including the number of hours/week you expect to need to work.

15. If I receive another summer research award, can I use it along with the MSS award? OR: I will be paid while working in the lab where I will be conducting my summer research project, is that a problem?

The aim of the MSS award is to enable as many students as possible to carry out summer research projects that would otherwise be unaffordable for them. For this reason, you may not use both the MSS and another summer research award to support a single research project. If you have two award offers for the same project, you should speak with the Director of the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research to decide which award is more advantageous for you to accept. Students offered MSS awards are free to decline these in favor of more advantageous offers.
Similarly, if you will be paid hourly wages, or receive a non-MSS stipend or salary for the same work you are proposing to carry out with MSS support, then you are not eligible to receive the award. Please consult with MCUR staff in advance of applying if you have specific questions regarding funding.

16. When will I learn the outcome of my MSS application?

Decisions are announced by the end of March.

17. I'm interested in doing research abroad, can my MSS application include a proposal for travel to regions with State Department travel advisories?

Proposals for research involving travel to regions under US Department of State travel advisories of level 3 or higher are not eligible and will not be reviewed. Proposals involving travel to regions with travel advisories of 2 that are recommended for a MSS award will be referred to the University's Director of International Risk Management for review and approval on a case-by-case basis. Please consult with the Travel Advisor website before beginning an application that involves foreign travel (Link to U.S. State Department Travel Advisories)

18. Do students who travel abroad typically work with someone in the country in which they are researching?

When an MSS proposal requires research abroad, it is helpful and strongly preferred that students proposing research abroad identify someone in the host country who can advise them informally. A local mentor/sponsor can provide useful advice but can also be invaluable in helping to secure access to archives, libraries, etc., or making introductions to other persons relevant to the student’s research project. If you have identified a primary or supplemental mentor in the country where you plan to do research, you need to provide a letter from that person supporting your project and agreeing to provide informal advice. This should be one of the two required recommendation letters.

19. If students are conducting researching about a foreign country or region, and their research can be accomplished in the US without difficulty, can they still request an MSS Travel Supplement to support foreign travel?

A student requesting supplementary MSS travel funds needs to show a clear need to travel to another country to carry out the proposed work. If all the necessary resources are available here, then traveling abroad would not be justified.

20. Can students work with someone at Maryland who is not a professor? For example, could a student work with the Director of the Center for Social Value Creation at the business school?

If an appropriate UMD mentor for your project happens not to have a faculty appointment, but has a position of comparable expertise/responsibility at the University, that is acceptable.

21. Can students work primarily with a professor at another university if no one at Maryland specializes in their topic?

Students need to find one faculty recommender at Maryland who has sufficient knowledge of their abilities and of the specific MSS project being proposed to write a letter of support, but it is acceptable if a student can secure a principal mentoring relationship with an appropriately qualified expert elsewhere.

22. What, if anything, should students tell their sponsors to include in the letters of support?

Mentors should comment on the following points:
  • Merit of the proposed project
  • Appropriateness of the mentor for the project
  • Feasibility of the proposed project
  • Qualification of the candidate
  • Description of the mentoring to be provided during the course of the research - how frequent, of what kind, etc.

23. How is the MSS award money paid? Do I need to include a proposed budget or file for reimbursement?

The award is made in one payment around the end of spring semester. Please bear in mind that MSS awards are taxable as income; you should plan accordingly. Depending on how individual payments are issued, your payment may have tax withheld.

24. I am clicking "Apply Now" but it's not working. What should I do?

Ad and data-collection blockers can interfere with the MSS application, preventing it from opening. If the application is failing to load, disable your blockers and try again. Alternatively, you can use a web browser or computer where these blockers are not installed.

25. How do I get a PDF of my transcript?

There are two ways to do this: Go to Click on "Unofficial Transcript." You'll be prompted to enter your UMD login and password. Print out the transcript, save or scan it as a PDF file, and upload it to the application.
In most web browsers you can create a PDF of the page by going to Print and in the print menu, change your destination printer to "Print to PDF" or "Adobe PDF." A PDF page will be generated which you can save to your computer and then upload to the application.

Maryland Center for Undergrauate Research at the Uniersity of Maryland

Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research
Phone: 301-314-6786  |  Email:
1201 Marie Mount Hall, University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
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