Summer Research Experiences

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) and other undergraduate research-based programs are offered during the summer in most fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  The programs are held for 8-10 weeks at colleges, universities, laboratories, hospitals, and institutes across the country and abroad.  They are usually intended for students after their sophomore or junior years of college, but there are an increasing number of programs that seek students after their first year.  A student’s time at an REU is generally devoted to working in small groups with other undergraduate students on original research projects under the direction of a professional researcher.

REU programs usually pay each student a stipend of several thousand dollars to participate.  In addition, they often cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the program and fund travel to present research at conferences.

Benefits of participating in a summer research experience

  • REU programs help students explore their field of study beyond the standard undergraduate curriculum.
  • Participating in an REU significantly strengthens a resume and/or graduate school application.
  • Working with students and faculty from other colleges and universities can result in valuable networking connections.
  • Students gain exposure to research-based careers.


A long list of resources with information about summer research programs can be found at the REU resources page.

Tips on applying to summer research programs

  • The Division of Natural Sciences supports undergraduate research, so in your applications mention that you may have the opportunity to continue and expand on your summer research after you return to Simpson College.
  • Customize your application for each program.  Indicate why you are specifically interested in that program.
  • Each program has different requirements for its participants, so pay close attention to them.  For example, some programs expect their participants to have completed certain classes and the majority require U.S. citizenship.
  • Emphasize your potential by mentioning any undergraduate research you have completed and any outstanding projects or term papers you have completed for your classes.
  • Indicate any interest in graduate school that you may have.  Note that programs in biological or medical fields generally prefer students who have an interest in graduate school rather than students who are strictly interested in medical school.
  • Ask a professor in your major to read over your application materials.
  • Every application will require recommendation letters.  Do not wait until the last minute to request them from your professors!

Summer Research Experiences Presentation

Click here for a copy of the presentation that Dr. Clint Meyer (Biology) and Dr. Bill Schellhorn (Mathematics) made in Fall 2012.

Past Summer Research Students

Click here for a list of the Simpson students who have recently participated in summer research programs.

Contact Information

Contact Dr. Bill Schellhorn if you want additional information included above or notice any mistakes on this page.