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Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes a competitive student application?
The application should describe a project that is valuable and feasible. The student should demonstrate appropriate base-line knowledge of the subject. The committee looks favorably on situations where the student has completed a literature review and demonstrates some mastery of the techniques to be applied. The URA application form provides sample responses to guide students in accordance with the review committee's expectations.

How can I obtain copies of the URA application and mentor support form?
Forms are available on-line in MS-Word and PDF formats. If you would like hard copies of the application, please contact Janet McGlynn (5-5754,  

How can students gain ideas for projects, see samples of abstracts, and receive guidance in preparing their proposals?
Students should pick topics for which they have a passion. A review of the abstracts of work completed by prior recipients may be helpful.

Can students submit team projects?
Yes. The maximum stipend for any single project is $1,500, but there is precedent for teams of two, three, or four students working collaboratively. The project payment must be provided in the name of only one student. Also, you may view streaming video of Steve Miller's workshop on effective poster preparation and of Tim Topoleski's workshop on good oral presentations. You can also download oral presentation tips and poster presentation tips.

Can students receive funding retroactively for research they have already conducted?
No, although it is possible for students to receive funding to continue research. It is also intended that the research be conducted in conjunction with UMBC-sponsored programs and with the mentorship of UMBC faculty.

Are all UMBC undergraduates eligible to apply?
Because awards are made in April, May's graduates are not eligible. Students planning to graduate in August or December should demonstrate in the proposal that their work can be completed before their graduation.

Can the same faculty mentor submit a letter of recommendation for more than one student's proposal?
Yes. In these cases we ask the faculty mentor to submit a confidential letter to the URA committee indicating a ranking of his or her recommendations. This is not to say that only one student per faculty mentor will be funded, but the URA committee values the faculty member's rankings if and when the members must decide between two projects.

How much flexibility is there in the submission deadline?
Student proposals can be submitted anytime between Wednesday, February 2 and Wednesday, March 2 at 5 p.m. Faculty support submissions, should be provided by the same March 2 deadline.

Proposal materials are available starting in December. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the selection process, no proposal materials can be accepted after the deadline. Given the month-long submission window, last-minute emergencies will not be considered.

Are the awards based on merit or on financial need?
The awards are primarily merit-based. It is, however, permissible for the faculty letter of recommendation to additionally comment on the student's financial need.

It appears that some disciplines consistently receive a higher proportion of awards than others. What accounts for this?
Funds are awarded to the most deserving proposals, as determined by the committee. A concerted effort is made each year to encourage submissions from all disciplines. The review committee has not bound itself to any disciplinary quotas nor to awards proportionate to the distribution of the applicant pool.