The SURF-SMART Program enables undergraduate students to receive guided mentorship from UC Berkeley graduate students. This program is designed to foster research skills and paths to advanced studies for undergraduates and broaden the professional development of doctoral students. SURF-SMART fellows work one-on-one with their SURF-SMART Graduate Student Mentor, at times alongside another SURF-SMART fellow/mentee, to contribute valuable research skills to the Mentor’s project.

Mentors work under the guidance of a faculty adviser and receive training in mentoring throughout the spring semester, in a seminar course offered by the Graduate Division. Each SURF-SMART fellow student will receive a $5,000 fellowship, to support their participation in the program, and their Mentor will receive a stipend from the Graduate Division.

In addition to funding, and the support of their Mentor, each SURF-SMART fellow is assigned to a small peer group which communicates regularly throughout the summer. In the group you will find a community of undergraduate researchers with similar interests. Each group is led by a SURF Graduate Student Advisor – an experienced researcher to help guide your efforts. Primary guidance in research will come from the Mentor, but most students have found it very valuable to meet with other students who are grappling with related-research issues. The SURF-SMART program culminates with a research presentation at the SURF Conference in August 2021. SURF-SMART fellows will present via oral presentation with slides at the Conference.


  • The deadline for SURF-SMART 2021 is 11:59 pm, February 18, 2021. If you are interested in applying for summer 2021, please take a look at the eligibility requirements below:

You may apply for SURF-SMART if you meet all of the following:

  •  are a student currently enrolled at UC Berkeley- visiting or UC Berkeley extension students are not eligible
  • have a 3.0 GPA at UC Berkeley
  • all majors across campus are welcome, including undeclared students
  • students with a December 2020 or May 2021 graduation date are not eligible to apply
  • if you applied in the past and were not selected to be a SMART mentee, you are welcome to apply again. Former SMART mentees are not eligible to apply again
  • you may not apply to any other SURF cohort (for example, Rose Hills or SURF L&S)
  • have a well-written and reasoned application essay responding to one of the Mentor projects posted to the SURF website
  • are able to devote yourself to research full-time for a minimum of eight weeks during the summer
  • International and AB540 students are eligible and encouraged to apply to SURF-SMART


SURF-SMART fellows are reviewed and selected by the Mentors. Successful applicants will demonstrate suitability for their hopeful project with the desired skill sets and experience. SURF-SMART fellows may have freshman, sophomore, or junior status. Seniors graduating no sooner than Fall 2021 may also apply. Students who win other substantial summer awards will be expected to decline the SURF award so that additional students may benefit from summer research.


SURF-SMART undergraduate fellows are expected to work on the research project for 10 weeks (late May to early August) for a total of 320 hours.  In all, mentees work 320 hours. Any other employment commitments or summer session enrollment for that period should be discussed with your graduate student mentor. Eight weeks is the minimum requirement. We have found that most summer fellows get the most out of the experience by going beyond this minimum requirement.

In addition to the work agreed upon between the Mentor and SURF-SMART fellows, all research fellows are required to: attend one orientation that will be held during the Spring term RRR week (usually first week in May), participate in four research-related workshops, attend two meetings to prepare for the conference presentation (these preparation meetings usually happen in the week before or the week of the Conference), attend multiple peer group meetings, and submit multiple research updates during the summer via bCourse. Fellows are urged to attend as many workshops  as possible. These workshops address a range of topics including core research skills, discipline-specific research practices, career pathways, and student wellness.  Please note that ALL SURF events and meetings will take place online via Zoom.

Early in the program, all research fellows must submit a photo, a project description, and a brief statement on the personal meaning of this opportunity, to be posted on the SURF website.

All SURF-SMART fellows will be required to make a work-in-progress oral presentation with slides at the SURF Conference in August 2021.

After the Conference, there are also a few requirements including an online evaluation and a thank-you statement to the fellow’s donor.  An online exit survey is the final step in the SURF program.