CSS-Provost Undergraduate Research Initiative Guidelines

The College of Social Science has funding for the Summer College of Social Science Provost’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (CSS-PURI).  This program supports summer undergraduate research with awards of up to $1,500 per student.

The CSS-PURI program provides talented undergraduates, from first-year students to seniors, with an opportunity to work closely with faculty on substantial research projects—usually, but not exclusively, as part of the faculty member’s own scholarly project.  Student researchers report that their experiences have been transformative, enabling them to integrate and apply the knowledge, methods, and skills they have learned in new and challenging environments outside the classroom.  Many have delivered conference papers, shared authorship of published articles, and presented work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) and Mid-Sure based on the research they have conducted as part of this program. 

The College requests CSS-PURI proposals from faculty who wish to participate in this program.  Student researchers have usually worked either one-on-one with a faculty member or as members of a research team involving faculty and graduate students.  Both models are acceptable. The College will also consider funding innovative approaches to undergraduate research, including unit or multi-unit research training programs for first-year students or projects attached to study away or study abroad programs.

Proposals are due on Monday, March 18.  Decisions will be taken by Friday, April 5.


Faculty proposals must include the following information and must be submitted through a form on the CSS website.  Late proposals will be considered if funding is available.

Find application materials here: http://socialscience.msu.edu/students/social-science-undergraduates/scholarships-awards-and-funded-research-opportunities/Faculty must submit using the online form system. If the project involves more than one student, submit a separate application for each student (one application per student participant). Indicate on each application that this is a multi-student project.         

Elements of the application must include:

  • Completed application form.
  • Abstract.  A statement about the research project, its stage in development, and the specific research tasks to be assigned to the undergraduate researcher(s). This statement must include the beginning and end date of each student’s involvement in the project and a description of the final research product to be delivered by each student. A commitment to UURAF or Mid-Sure should be evident in the application.
  • Outcomes.  A statement of student learning outcomes and how those outcomes will be assessed by the faculty mentor.
  • Budget Proposal.  A budget that states precisely how the funds will be spent (see below for guidelines).  It is important to comply with these guidelines.
  • The name(s) of the student(s) selected, if available at the time of submission. Proposals that name one or more specific undergraduates who have agreed to participate in the program will be given priority. Please submit one application for each named student on a proposed project. This helps us with the review process. We will also consider proposals that do not name particular students. It is not necessary to submit separate applications for each student. Note that student duties and learning outcomes must be specified for each student researcher.   


CSS-PURI funds may be allocated as follows: 

1)    Stipend or research travel for undergraduate research must make up at least 80% of the total budget. Since there are other funds available to support travel (see below), we ask that applications minimize travel costs to the extent possible.

2)    No more than 20% can be used for supplies/equipment related to the research. 

The sponsoring department or school will be responsible for the administration of funds, including ensuring proper allocation and expenditure. As in past years, Summer CSS-PURI awards require unit matching of 50%. So an award that is for the maximum amount of $1,500 will require a $500 match from the unit

The College of Social Science and the Office of Undergraduate Research have separate travel funds available to student researchers. Student researchers are eligible to apply. Travel funds require unit matching, and the College also provides matching funds.  For additional information, please contact Renée Davis, davissr(at)msu.edu.


The budget for PURI is limited and the awards are made on a competitive basis. Proposals will be ranked based on

  • The extent to which projects meet the purpose of the program, which is to help undergraduate students develop advanced research skills in the social, economic, and behavioral sciences that they will apply as advanced undergraduates, in their careers, or in graduate or professional school.
  • How much faculty are involved as mentors in helping students understand the nature of research in a field, its application and significance within scholarship or the professions, and the importance of ethical practice in the research.
  • The extent to which students have the opportunity to demonstrate the accomplishment of the learning goals during the work phase of the project, in their presentations at UURAF, and after their involvement in the project. 
  • How clear and appropriate the learning goals are. The goals might vary with the level research experience of the student and could include demonstrating
    • mastery of key technologies, techniques, or methods relevant to research within the discipline;
    • ethical research practices;
    • the ability to analyze, interpret, or synthesize evidence gathered through primary and secondary research;
    • the ability to present or write research results for scholarly or professional audiences. 


  • Faculty must hold an appointment (including joint appointments) in the College of Social Science. 
  • Student researchers must be enrolled College of Social Science majors (second majors are acceptable) with a 2.0 GPA or better. They must not have graduated before or graduate during the PURI funding period.
  • The research can be conducted at MSU, in the USA, or internationally. Team projects that include multiple faculty, graduate students or undergraduates are eligible for consideration, and faculty can propose to fund more than one undergraduate under this program.  However, the specific duties, research products, and learning outcomes must be stated for each student researcher individually.


CSS and the Office of the Provost require reporting and assessment. Every year it is a challenge to get these reports, so please mark your calendars. Each faculty and student participant must submit a written report to the Associate Dean of Academic & Student Affairs detailing the research outcomes for the project, an assessment of student learning outcomes (proposed and achieved), and the expenditure of funds (the latter provided by the faculty member).  Please ask your student researcher to submit her/his report to you and then forward both to me as a package.  

By August 16, 2019, the following information should be submitted to my office:

  • Name of student(s) supported (no PID numbers).
  • Detailed information on expenditures (a required reporting form will be supplied).
    • Scholarships and stipends
    • Supplies and equipment
    • Conference registration and travel
    • Other
  • Assessment of the student’s achievement of learning objectives and an overall evaluation of the student’s contribution to the advancement of the research.
  • Any presentations, abstracts or publications arising from the research (including citations if applicable, and including anticipated conference presentations and publications).
  • Other indicators of quality.
  • A 250-word report from the student, summarizing his/her accomplishments and reflecting on the competencies he/she gained from the experience. 

Questions: 355-6673 or email to walterh(at)msu.edu