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Have you ever considered a career in research but have never had the chance to conduct any research of your own? Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REUs, are a great way to find out if a career in research is right for you. REUs are paid summer internships funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other similar programs and foundations, located at Research I institutions and Federal Research Laboratories across the United States. REUs give you real world experience of what it is actually like to work in a laboratory setting. In an REU, you will work closely with a faculty mentor and other researchers on a specific research project. You will gain valuable experiences, such as learning new laboratory techniques, which can assist you in future studies and make you more marketable and desirable to graduate and professional programs.

Are REUs only for science majors?

No. REUs are available in all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

What is the average salary/stipend for an REU?

On average, the salary (or stipend) for an REU is $5,000 for a ten week internship. Stipend amounts vary by program but range from $3,000 to $5,000+. Many programs assist with housing, travel, and food expenses.

What is the average length of an REU?

Most REUs are eight to ten weeks in length.

When is the deadline to apply?

Application deadlines vary from program to program and begin anywhere from early December to late March.

How can I find an REU?

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a database where you can search for REUs by subject area and/or location. This database can be found here:

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) also has a database of Mathematics REUs.

Who is eligible to apply?

Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. Also, most programs require you to be a rising junior or rising senior. Most programs prefer for you to have taken some sophomore-level science major courses such as Organic Chemistry and/or Zoology. Generally, you must have at least an additional year of undergraduate coursework remaining after your REU.


Tips & How-To

How do I choose an REU that’s right for me?

What sparks your interest – is it genetics? Insects? Marine biology? Maybe it’s plants? Or physics? Or Engineering? Whatever interests you, there is probably an REU for it. There are hundreds of REUs available in all STEM fields. You can search for REUs by subject matter if you have a specific area in mind, or you can scan the whole database and see if anything catches your eye. There’s an REU for everyone.

The Application

Most REU applications require basic information (name, address, etc.), a paragraph on your personal interests, transcript (official or unofficial – depending on the institution), and usually 2-3 letters of reference. The letters of reference are usually from professors or employers.

ABAC’s new reference letter policy requires students eliciting letters from professors to fill out a request form and allow 3 weeks from time of submission of aforementioned form to delivery/submission of reference letter. Do not wait until the last minute to submit this form! Request forms can be found here: Blank Request for Letter of Recommendation

Some REUs will ask you to write a section on why you want to apply or be a part of their program, which is similar to a statement of purpose for graduate or professional school. Resources for tips on writing a statement of purpose/personal statement can be found here:

Writing a Personal Statement for an REU

Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue



If you have any questions or would like more information, contact:

Sarah Rooks
Special Projects Coordinator
School of Science and Mathematics