Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP)

Every summer, our department runs the Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP), in which 15-20 students carry out astrophysics research projects under the supervision of faculty and postdoc advisors.  The summer starts with a week-long intensive workshop on computer programming and astronomical statistics.  Students then work one-on-one with a faculty member or a postdoc on an independent research project;  some even co-author research articles for peer-reviewed journals based on their summer research.  The topics that undergraduate researchers have tackled in the past have spanned all of experimental, observational, and theoretical astronomy. Participating in the summer program is an excellent introduction to research astronomy, and for students interested in majoring in astrophysics, it is a great way to learn whether this is something you would like to pursue for a career (many former participants have gone on to graduate school and to careers in astronomy and other sciences).

Sample Student Research Topics from previous years

How to Apply

Princeton students should submit only* the following application materials through the University's Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) where the program is listed as Undergraduate Summer Research Program in Astrophysics Independent Project http://www.princeton.edu/studentfunding/

1) A brief essay consisting of approximately two paragraphs, no more than one page (reasonable margins, 12-point font).  The first paragraph should briefly describe course-work and/or previous research experiences that you feel are relevant.  The second paragraph should describe why you would like to participate in the summer program. Please also indicate the subject in which you intend to major.

2) On a separate page please provide a list of the courses you have taken and the grades received (a screenshot from the registrar's website will suffice).

Tentative dates for the summer of 2022 program are Monday, June 6th through Monday, August 8th.   The deadline for applications from Princeton students is February 17, 2023.  We expect to inform applicants of decisions by the week of March 6.  We strongly encourage rising sophomores to apply.

Every accepted student will receive a stipend of $4,000, paid in two installments.  In addition, they will be accommodated in University housing free of charge, unless the program must be virtual.  Exceptions from University housing (e.g. for family or health reasons) may be requested individually.   

Applications of non-Princeton students are made through the National Astronomy Consortium (NAC):  https://public.nrao.edu/odi/nac/  operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).  NAC provides research experience and long-term mentoring and cohort support, and is directed to women and underrepresented minority undergraduate students studying astronomy or related fields.   Note that the deadline is  February 1 2023, which is earlier than the deadline for Princeton students. 

Applications to the Princeton Astrophysics Undergraduate Summer Research Program are limited to students enrolled in U.S. universities, U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

If you have questions about the program, please contact:

Polly Strauss (Academic Program Administrator; pstrauss AT princeton.edu)

* it is not necessary to complete all fields in SAFE, such as project statement, planned itinerary, qualifications; you may enter "NA" (not applicable).