UROP Application Guidelines

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be of sophomore- or junior-level standing at time of application. Applicant may be senior-level, as long as he or she will not graduate before completing full academic year in Program
  • Must have and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or above overall and within the student's major
  • Must be conducting research or a creative project in the student’s major or related field of study, and must have a faculty mentor in that area who is willing and available to oversee the student's project from beginning to end
  • Must maintain adequate progress toward the completion of the Project and attend UROP sponsored events/workshops
  • Must be enrolled as a full-time student at USM (minimum of 12 credit hours) during the fall and spring semesters while participating in the program; if research requires to work during the summer semester(s), student must be enrolled for six credit hours in order to be paid
  • Must obtain necessary clearances/permits (such as with IRB, Animal Care, Hazardous Material or field study sites) BEFORE beginning research or creative activity
  • Must conduct the project during the summer, fall and spring of the upcoming year. (Funding may be received to begin the project as early as May 1st of the year the proposal is submitted and accepted.)  The project should reach completion by April of the following spring semester.
  • Must present their completed project at Thinking Matters in April.


  • $3000 award for the academic year
  • $500 for materials related to the project per approved submitted budget justification
  • Eligibility to apply for up to $400 in travel to present research, scholarship or creative activity
  • Opportunity to work closely with faculty mentor
  • Opportunity to develop scholarly relationships with other USM faculty and UROP fellows
  • Opportunity to publish project results in professional journals


The project is guided by a faculty mentor, chosen by the student from those faculty members who are available for the summer, fall and spring semester and agree to serve. The project must be based at USM, but may involve off-campus activities.

Selection criteria:

Your application will be evaluated by several professors, and not all will be specialists in your field. It is important that you write your application in general terms and explain any necessary technical details. It is often helpful to have a friend who is unfamiliar with your proposed research review the application and highlight any areas of confusion. You may also contact the Research Administration office to make a review appointment, in which the RA staff will review your application and provide feedback and suggestions. Review appointments will not be available on the two days prior to the deadline. After proposals are submitted for UROP, the Awards Committee (a committee of USM's Research Council) evaluates each one on its merit for funding. The Awards Committee presents their evaluation and comments to the full Research Council. Council members vote individually on each proposal, however, members may not vote on proposals from their own departments or those which they are serving as faculty mentors. Student proposals can receive up to four points in each of five areas for a maximum of 20 points, as detailed in the scoring rubric. A proposal must have an overall score of 12.5 or more to be considered eligible for funding.

Application materials:

The student's application should include a brief project abstract (150 words), the project proposal (no more than five pages) in line with listed criteria, the project's proposed budget justification, a letter of recommendation by the faculty mentor, and a cover sheet.  Paper applications should be delivered to Trish Bola, 106 Science, Portland Campus; electronic application should be emailed as a single PDF file to

The abstract is a brief but comprehensive summary of the contents of the proposal in plain language.  Readers should receive their first impression of the flavor of the topic from this abstract. The information in the abstract needs to be concise, well organized, self contained, and understandable to persons outside the discipline. This should be placed on its own separate page, behind the cover/application sheet but before the text of the proposal itself. The abstract does not count towards the proposal page total.

Project Proposal:

Introduction and Significance
In all cases, please realize that some members of your audience are skilled in areas outside of your discipline, so engage them in your idea via a plain-language introduction. This beginning section of your proposal should contain thorough statements that orient the readers to the overall area of investigation, spark their interest, and communicate information essential to their comprehension of your proposal.

• Describe the intellectual merit of your proposed research or creative activity. What is the context for this project? Why is it important? What goals will it accomplish or what questions will it answer? For creative activities, what aesthetic are you addressing? Why is your proposed creative activity unique? For a science or technology proposal, you should describe a hypothesis that your research will test.
• Describe the broader impacts of your proposed research. Does this research have practical application or public policy implications? Will it contribute to better understanding of questions important to human knowledge or culture? Is your research particularly relevant to certain groups of people, such as K-12 school children or particular ethnic or cultural groups?

Context, Background, and/or Literature Review
This section allows you to set the scene for your own work. It allows you to review relevant background knowledge and investigations. This section might address “What is the origin of your particular project?” and “How does your project complement or contrast with prior research.” In reviewing the literature, your task is to capture the main contributions and directions taken by experts on your topic. Select those works that provide both classic and contemporary foundations for your proposed investigation. Limit the review to what is germane to your main topic. Your discussion of the literature will reveal your appreciation of the evidence that has already been published. Your job is to find or create a niche where your own project fits. That way, your readers can see how it will enrich other works that have already been published in your field.

Goals, Objectives, or Operating Hypothesis
What do you wish to explore in this scholarship?  (i.e., the problem you identified in the above literature review). Please phrase your goal, objective, or hypothesis clearly and unambiguously. Explicitly state the goals for your project in language that the reviewers can understand. Why does this problem capture your attention and what do you plan to do with it? If your proposal is part of a larger, ongoing project undertaken by your mentor, what part of the larger one is identified as your idea to pursue?

Materials, Procedures, and Time Line
This section of the proposal contains the step-by-step plan of action and the schedule for conducting your research or making your artistic creation. Be sure to explain your role in the overall project, especially if your work is part of a larger one being carried out by your mentor. Depending on the topic and procedures, this section should discuss and explain in detail:

(1) the target population and sampling methods,
(2) materials required and their use,
(3) instruments and techniques,
(4) design and method for data collection or artistic creation,
(5) procedures for data analysis or critique of performance, and
(6) a reasonable schedule of steps for successful completion of your work within two semesters

All studies have inherent limitations. This section also assures the readers that you have considered these limitations, including time and scope, during the formulation of your proposal. Rejection sometimes results from readers not clearly understanding the project, its foundations, and its limits.  If there is reasonable doubt as to whether particular language will be understood by the reviewers, it is wise to provide definitions and explanations. In this section you must acknowledge any special requirements needed for your project.  All research and creative activities at the University of Southern Maine are subject to federal and state laws and regulations. If your research or creative activity involves human subjects; live animals; ionizing radiation; recombinant DNA, biological toxins or infective agents; highly toxic chemicals; biologically hazardous agents; and/or potent human or animal carcinogens, you will need to obtain approvals for appropriate mitigations before you begin your research. You should consult with your Faculty Mentor regarding University and other regulations relevant to your project, and the Office of Research Integrity and Outreach.

Describe the outcome of your research or creative activity. For a science or technology proposal, at what level of confidence will your research test the hypothesis that you have described? After your research what will you and others know that was not known before? What questions will be answered? What questions might arise for further study? How will you disseminate your new knowledge? For creative activity, what will you produce? How will you present the results of your creative activity?

Be sure to fully cite all works mentioned throughout your research proposal. Use the reference style that is accepted in your discipline (for example, MLA, APA, ASA). The main point is to be consistent and accurate. You may indicate citations within the text of your proposal with numbers in parentheses (1) in order to save space, but the full citations should appear in numerical order on a separate reference page according to your discipline specific style.

Budget Justification
A budget justification of no more than two pages is required. Needed items should be listed in categories that conform to University purchasing practices. Summary of these categories are listed on the second page of the cover sheet. Be careful not to make the common error of assuming that readers know why you requested the budgeted amounts in each area. Give a detailed explanation of each budget item. The total budget should not exceed $500. If other funding is necessary to complete the project, provide evidence of its source.

Research Mission

To support research, scholarship and creative activity to: promote knowledge, discovery and practical application to advance Maine's economy, communities and the quality of life for Maine citizens; to strengthen classroom education and transform the lives of students through real world learning opportunities; and to support faculty and staff commitment to excellence in scholarly accomplishments regionally, nationally and internationally.