Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

People at an REU event.

The University of Rochester is one of the smallest and most collegiate schools among the nation’s top research universities. Our goal is to develop students as researchers, collaborators, and mentors for academia and industry.

The Kearns Center provides academic advising and coordinates professional and social activities for many summer research programs within AS&E, including four National Science Foundation (NSF) REU programs:

Our best research students come through recommendations from faculty and fellow students who recognize talent at all levels. 

Video Overview:



NSF REU students receive:

People sitting on the grass by the sea.

  • A research stipend
  • Round-trip travel/travel reimbursement
  • On-campus housing and meal plan
  • An assigned advisor and mentor
  • GRE test preparation classes
  • Graduate school preparation seminars
  • Instruction in research methods
  • One credit of academic coursework
  • Complimentary tickets to local museums, sporting events, and/or concerts



Program Dates

This program runs from May 27-August 1, 2020.


Each REU program has its own deadline. Most applications will open in November and close in January/February. Please check individual REU websites for details.

Accepted applicants will be notified in the beginning of March. 

To apply, you will need to submit:

  • Online application
  • Personal statement
  • Two references
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
REU Experience

REU Milestones

Students typically go through the following research stages throughout the summer program:

  • Prior to REU (mid-April): Connect with faculty mentor and outline research question(s)
  • Weeks 1 – 2: Read background literature, get acquainted with lab/equipment
  • Weeks 3 – 4: Define research project, participate in lab meetings
  • Weeks 5 – 8: Conduct research, analyze data, present initial findings
  • Weeks 9 – 10: Prepare talk, poster, and final paper and participate in Symposium

REU Calendar

Most weeks throughout the program have a consistent rhythm to them. A week may look like this:








Day off

9 a.m. —GRE class

10 a.m.—Lab

5 p.m.—Workshop

8:30 a.m.—Lab

6 p.m.—Talk (optional, dinner included)

8:30 a.m.—Lab


1 p.m.—Lab

8 a.m.—Lab

Noon—Meet with mentor

1 p.m.—Lab

5 p.m.—Talk

10 a.m.—Lab

JazzFest (optional, multiple events)


The REU program concludes with a day-long Summer Research Symposium that brings together over 80 summer research scholars from our REU programs, Xerox Engineering Research Fellows program, and the Ronald E. McNair program. The Symposium includes lightning talks by students in the Advancing Human Health, From Nano to Network REU program as well as an opportunity to engage with the UR community and community at large through poster presentations. REU students are also required to submit a final paper, as specified by their faculty mentor.

Past Participants

Our 2019 REU researchers participated from:

  • Liberal Arts colleges like Bucknell
  • Other R1 Research Universities like Columbia
  • Community Colleges like Laney College (CA)
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Norfolk State
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) like Cal State Long Beach

Our 2019 cohort had the following characteristics:

  • Interested in pursuing an advanced degree: 49%
  • Interested in pursuing medical school: 11%
  • Underrepresented in STEM: 23%
  • First generation students: 37%
  • Female students: 43%
  • Class year: Rising sophomores – 11%, juniors – 40%, seniors – 49%
  • Students from outside of New York State: 86%
Frequently Asked Questions

I am not a University of Rochester student. Can I enroll in the REU?

Our REU programs are federally funded by the National Science Foundation and intended for undergraduate students from any institution in the United States. Preference is given to students who apply from institutions other than the University of Rochester.

What is the time commitment for the REU program?

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs are 9 ½ weeks long. They begin the Wednesday following Memorial Day and finish the last weekend in July. For 2020, the programs will run from May 27 to August 1. REU students will participate in our inaugural National Undergraduate Research Conference.

What is the typical workload as an REU participant and what is expected of me?

As an REU participant, you are committed to working a minimum of 40 hours per week for the duration of the REU. Students who are selected for the REU, cannot to take courses or hold a job during the program. Accepting an REU position implies that you agree to be available for the entire program.

You should consult with your faculty advisor regarding your specific work schedule and work schedule flexibility.

I am a first-year student (freshman standing). Am I eligible for REU?

Yes, as a first‐year student you are eligible to apply our REU programs and freshman make up about 10 percent of our REU students over all programs. Most of our REU candidates apply as sophomores or juniors and have foundational engineering courses, but many projects are also accessible for first‐year students. We encourage you to apply.

How are candidates selected for your REU programs? When will I know if I have been selected for an REU? What if I am considering other offers?

Each REU program has its own selection and acceptance process so you should consult the webpage for your program of interest. Most programs make initial offers and hold a waitlist. It’s important to remember that students in both groups are high-caliber applicants who will excel in their chosen program; often the difference between an initial match and a waitlist match can be attributed to the competitiveness of the applicant pool and limited number of spaces available.

Where do students live during the REU program?

Most REU students live in on-campus residence halls (double occupancy) and are provided a meal allowance for buffet-style eating, grab-and-go options, and dining out at local restaurants.

Students who decide not to live on campus may receive a housing allowance to pay for a local rental unit or sublet, depending on the terms of the REU.

Do students have roommates? How are they assigned?

Most students who live in on-campus housing live in a double-occupancy room and have a roommate. We provide opportunities for students to meet virtually in April so that they can find and request a roommate that is a good match.

Requests for single-occupancy rooms will be reviewed and granted based on demonstrated need for privacy or accessibility.

What are the dining options on campus? Does the REU support vegetarian/vegan/kosher/gluten free and other diets?

In addition to housing and a stipend, REU participants are given $500 of dining points to cover the cost of meals. The stipend is not intended to cover all your food expenses. Participants will have to purchase a meal or two, but meals will also be provided at events and workshops you are required to attend.

As far as places to eat, there are places in walking distance of campus that provide a variety of cook-to-order meals. Within a 1/2-mile walk is also the Rochester Medical Center with a full cafeteria and College Town which houses many restaurants that accept your campus dining stipend as payment. More detailed information see the summer dinning page.

As an REU participant, are there extracurricular activities that I need to participate in during the program?

As an REU participant, you will attend seminars featuring speakers who will discuss their research and professional career paths. Several social activities also require your attendance. Additionally, the most important activity is the research conference at the close of the program. It is important to ensure that you are available for the entire REU program, start to finish. The last poster session is well attended, and it is an excellent opportunity to show off your great work while networking.

What are the social activities?

Many of our REU participants are visiting Rochester, NY for the first time. We aim to show you many of the attractions that Rochester offers, especially the wonderful sites and hallmark events of the summer. These may include:

Are students able to travel off-campus?

Yes, students enjoy many opportunities to travel off-campus, both formally and informally. We have a free shuttle system that takes students to shopping and recreational outlets in/around Rochester as well as on-campus access to Pace bicycle rental and Zipcar car rental systems. Additionally, the Regional Transit System has a stop on campus for students to conveniently and economically travel throughout the region.

The Kearns Center plans trips throughout the summer for REU students and each year a handful of students have cars on campus that they use for weekend trips in the area (eg. Toronto, New York City, Adirondack Mountains, etc.).

Who handles the travel arrangements for REU students?

The Kearns Center arranges and pays for travel round-trip travel for most REU students to/from the city of their choice in the continental US. Baggage fees are the responsibility of each student.

If a student wishes to drive to campus, the center will reimburse the student for travel costs up to $450 and payment is made at the end of the summer. The reimbursement is based on the mileage rate established by the University (the rate was $0.58 per mile for the 2018-2019 academic year).

How is the stipend paid?

The stipend is paid out over four to five equal payments, depending on the pay cycle, and payments are made on the 15 and last day of the month. Students can elect to sign up for direct deposit into a bank account or they can receive a “live” check.

Is my REU stipend taxable?

Yes. It is taxable and you should report it in your tax filings. No deduction is taken on your stipend payment because it is not large enough to get taxed, but if you have other sources of income during the year, then you’ll end up paying some income tax on it later. Since it is a stipend and not a salary, you will not pay social security tax on it.

Are there opportunities to expand my involvement beyond REU?

Quite possibly, you should speak with your mentor/advisor. For instance, students from the University of Rochester could enroll in independent study and receive course credit. Others have been able to secure funding through their faculty mentor to return a second summer. We also encourage students to apply to the University of Rochester for graduate school.

Information Sessions

All webinars for this semester have passed. Please reach out directly to the REU coordinator, Cris Murray, at to schedule an individual conversation.

The REU Experience at the University of Rochester Webinars

This fall the Kearns Center is hosting four virtual information sessions via Zoom for prospective REU students. Each webinar will feature an overview of the REU structure and programming, details about transportation, lodging, and meals, and Q&A with a student and faculty mentor team from 2019.

  • Wednesday, October 9 at 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT/12 p.m. MDT/11 a.m. PDT)
  • Thursday, October 24 at 12 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. CDT/10 a.m. MDT/9 a.m. PDT)
  • Wednesday, November 6 at 3:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. MST/ 12:30 p.m. PST)
  • Friday, November 15 at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST/1 p.m. MST/12 p.m. PST)

To RSVP and receive the Zoom login for your session complete and submit the Webinar Registration Form.

All sessions are hosting on Zoom, an easy-to-use, web-based webinar tool suitable for laptops/desktops and smart phones (app available). Zoom works best when you have a microphone and speaker available, which comes standard on most laptops and phones.


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