PRISM Research Scholars Program

Additional benefits for PRISM Scholars | Eligibility | How to Apply

Application deadline for 2020-2021 academic year: Friday, April 2nd, 2021 

The PRISM Research Scholars program supports current College students engaged in advanced undergraduate research.  The program aims to promote substantive, faculty-directed summer research that advances scholarly research skills, including research design, execution, and dissemination, in targeted Social Science, Arts, and Humanities disciplines.  

Grant amount: $5000 research grant (paid as stipend)

Duration: ~400 hours of research over a 10-week period during the summer

Additional benefits for PRISM Scholars:

  • PRISM Scholars will benefit from research scholar community events during the academic year following their summer experience; they will also receive directed advising on relevant opportunities and resources.
  • Institutional support through the College Center for Research and Fellowships (CCRF) for scholarly research and recognition of that work for future postgraduate endeavors, including but not limited to advanced study, professional careers in a broad array of fields, research-based grants and fellowships.

Expectations of PRISM Scholars:

  • All PRISM scholars and mentors will be asked to complete a research-assessment form at the end of their summer research experience.
  • All PRISM scholars will be required to present their research at the annual University of Chicago Undergraduate Research Symposium (every May); if unable to present at the first symposium following their summer research, they will be required to do so before graduation. This year's Undergraduate Research Symposium is scheduled for May 21, 2021. Next year's annual Symposium will take place in May of 2022. 
  • For the duration of the award period, students must continue to be actively engaged with their research project and faculty mentor, and remain an undergraduate student in good standing with the University returning full-time in the autumn quarter after their summer award period.


  • Open to current 2nd and 3rd years proposing faculty-directed research. This includes the following:
    • Expanding upon an existing faculty-driven research experience you are currently involved with, including a laboratory, field-research, community-based research experience, etc. (e.g. in Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology).
    • Faculty-directed BA thesis or independent research at an advanced stage. PRISM candidates will be expected to submit an application that evidences their BA thesis or independent research is well constructed and that summer support is imperative for its success.
  • All candidates will be required to supply the name of their research mentor – who will subsequently be asked to a) approve the proposal and b) provide a reference;
  • Evidence of academic preparation, including relevant methodological training undertaken in advance of beginning summer research;
  • If research requires IRB approval for work with human-subjects, you are required to apply for IRB approval in advace of submitting your PRISM application. If you have secured IRB approval, you will be asked to provide proof of approval as part of your PRISM application. Final awards will not be made to students who have not yet secured the requisite IRB approvals to pursue the research project. There are no exceptions to this criterion;
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 and in good-standing with the University as a full-time student; students on extended leave are not eligible for the PRISM award;
  • Summer research experience of at least 10-weeks in duration; and, 
  • Open to the following majors:
    • Anthropology
    • Art History
    • Cinema and Media Studies
    • Comparative Human Development
    • English Language and Literature
    • English and Creative Writing
    • History
    • Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities (IRUM)
    • Linguistics
    • Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
    • Philosophy 
    • Political Science
    • Psychology 
    • Sociology

Applications will also be considered from the following majors:

  • Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Comparative Literature
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Global Studies
  • History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPSS)
  • Jewish Studies
  • Law, Letters and Society
  • Medieval Studies


  • Research proposals from candidates who have not yet submitted applications for IRB approval for research that involves human subjects.
  • Any form of independent research without a faculty adviser.
  • Applications from candidates who do not have a research mentor in the field of their research.
  • Field-schools, “research” in industry or as interns, language training, research-courses, conferences of any type or networking events
  • Part-time research experience (less than ~40 hours per week)
  • Any project that involves purchasing equipment, supplies, interview transcription service of any type

Travel Advisory and Planning for “Remote” Research: the COVID-19 outbreak may continue to limit summer travel or research with human subjects. If your PRISM research proposal involves travel of any kind (domestic or international), please make clear in your proposal that you can carry out your research without traveling, if necessary. Similarly, you may be required to carry out your research remotely. Please also include a clear statement about how your research can transition to “remote”, especially if proposing human subjects research, if necessary.  

Be advised that we reserve the right to categorically deny funding for a research proposal that depends exclusively on travel (domestic or international) or on interaction with human subjects.

How to Apply:

Before applying for a PRISM grant, please carefully review all of the materials pertaining to the award program, eligibility, expectations, and deadlines. Applications for research that do not include the name(s) and reference of a faculty research mentor will not be reviewed. Applications submitted after the stated deadline will not be reviewed. Applications are reviewed following the stated deadline, not on a rolling basis.

This is highly competitive research scholars grant program. Approximately five (5) total awards are made each year. Therefore, it is vital that you prepare a clear, well-crafted research proposal that evidences the feasibility and validity of your proposed research, as well as proves that you are well-equipped and appropriately trained to undertake the research.

If you have not secured IRB-approval for research involving human subjects, you must do so in advance of submitting your PRISM application by the annual deadline. Applications without proof of IRB-approval, if relevant, will not be reviewed.

Deadline: April 2, 2021 - application link below

There are no exceptions to the stated deadline and no off-cycle awards made. Your reference must also be received by the campus deadline.

Application Instructions

To complete your application, you will be asked to submit the following through our online application portal:

  • Basic information about yourself (Year, Major, current GPA, UCID, etc.)
  • Project information: project title, name of faculty mentor(s), proposed duration of the research (specific dates), and average hours dedicated to the research per week
  • Research Proposal: maximum of 1000 words, single spaced, 12-point font.
    • In your research proposal, please describe in your own words the project. You may include citations and an additional page of supplementary information, as relevant. These will not be included in your word count. Please treat this as a formal research proposal; it should be written clearly and carefully. It functions as the core of your application and its quality will determine the success of your application. 
    • Header: Your full name, year of study and major
    • Body:
      • Research Project Overview: Introduction and aims/objectives
      • Research Context: Background and Significance
      • Research Plan: Methodology and Potential Outcomes
      • Research Preparation: Relevant Research Training, Experience, and Skills
      • Research Motivation & Grant Benefits: Purpose and Potential Impacts of Research Participation and Award
  • An unofficial copy of your most recent transcript (pdf.) - Note: The application will ask you to email your unofficial transcript document to separate from the application portal.
  • Academically focused curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Approval and reference from your primary research mentorPlease also send a copy of your completed research proposal to your research mentor. You will be asked to confirm that you have/will sent the proposal to your mentor as a part of your online application. 
  • Your mentor should be:
    • A UChicago faculty member with whom you will work directly with (if supporting their research project) or who will be overseeing your research. They can be of any rank, including research faculty, lecturer, or senior lecturer; they cannot be a graduate student, preceptor, or post-doc.
    • A faculty member who has affiliation with UChicago or non-faculty academic staff; for example, curators or researchers with teaching roles at UChicago or its cultural or research institutes, etc. If you are unsure, please contact the CCRF Research team at


Questions or concerns? Please contact Tracy Nyerges, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Research at or Nichole Fazio, Executive Director, College Center for Research & Fellowships.