What is SURF SMART? 

The SURF-SMART Program enables undergraduate students to receive guided mentorship from UC Berkeley graduate students. For the undergraduate fellows, SURF-SMART fosters the development of specific research skills and expands pathways to advanced studies; graduate students benefit from extensive mentorship training and learn how to teach students within their research specialization. Undergraduate fellows work one-on-one with their graduate student mentors, and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of their mentor’s dissertation.

Graduate student mentors work under the guidance of a faculty sponsor; in the spring semester, they receive mentorship training in a seminar offered by the Graduate Division. Each undergraduate SURF-SMART fellow will receive a $5,000 fellowship; graduate student mentors receive their stipends from the Graduate Division.


Eligibility for SURF-SMART is contingent on the following criteria. You must:

  • be a matriculating student at UC Berkeley in their Freshman, Sophomore or Junior year. Rising Seniors intending to graduate in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023, visiting, and extensions students are all ineligible to apply. Junior transfers may apply, but are encouraged to consider applying to one of the other SURF cohorts, unless intending to remain at Cal for a fifth semester or fifth year.
  • have a 3.0 GPA at UC Berkeley
  • all majors across campus are welcome, including undeclared students
  • submit a well-written application that responds to one of the mentor projects, which will be posted to the SURF website by the start of the Spring 2022 semester
  • 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 graduate student mentors. Successful applicants will demonstrate suitability for the project they apply for and address the desired skillsets and experience. Students who win other substantial summer awards will be expected to decline the SURF award so that additional students may benefit from summer research.


Although fellows are expected to work full-time on their research projects for two months during the summer, SURF will not restrict summer session enrollment or student employment. 

All research fellows are required to:

  • submit a pre-SURF program survey, articulating particular skills that you would like to develop to support your research and future scholarship
  • submit a headshot and project description at the beginning of the summer to be posted on the SURF website.
  • attend orientation, four summer workshops, and three small group meetings
  • submit a mid-summer progress report
  • submit a final report
  • submit a post-SURF program evaluation, including a thank you statement to the fellow’s donor