Undergraduate Research

Funding Research

Funding Research

Funding your research and creative work can make or break a project. We are committed to providing support for student pursuits.

The fall and spring Research Apprentice Program (RAP) provides students with an opportunity to apply what was learned in the classroom to discover new knowledges, solve real-world problems, pursue creative endeavors and develop professionally while working for a faculty member on a scholarly or creative project.

This is a “mentored learning” experience. The program includes specially designed workshops for students that will introduce and invite them into a community of scholars. This is not an independent study but is a research or creative experience. Program participants will work for a faculty member. Fall and spring research apprentices are a talented group of highly motivated students whose goals demand specialized and intense academic preparation and study.


The RAP affords first-time researchers with the opportunity to advance specialized techniques, methodologies and procedures necessary to the research or creative process within their discipline. Faculty train and guide their student research apprentices, actively helping them develop research skills that will enable them to collaborate with faculty or undertake their own independent research projects in the future. The primary goal of a research apprenticeship is the acquisition of skills and knowledge rather than research output.


A student wishing to serve as a research apprentice must be a full-time, currently enrolled undergraduate. Students selected for these positions must be committed, dependable and sincerely interested in working with faculty members on their faculty-mentored projects. Research apprentices are paid an hourly rate and work an average of 5-10 hours per week, for a maximum of 100 hours per semester.

Apprenticeships are available for three periods: fall semester only, spring semester only, fall and spring semesters.


The program goals include the facilitation of:

  • Opportunities for students to think critically and creatively, by encouraging student academic achievement, connecting students to resources, and hosting workshops and events that build academic skills
  • Opportunities for students to build respect for diversity and to work collaboratively, by fostering student community, encouraging collaboration, hosting social events and workshops, and encouraging social and emotional development
  • Opportunities for students to build scholarly expertise and lifelong learning, by fostering scholarship, interdependence, and whole-system thinking through dynamic learning experiences that push beyond the traditional collegiate experience
  • Opportunities for students to gain hands-on research and creative experience
  • Better understanding of what research and creative artistry entail and why people do it
  • Further demonstration of the synergistic relationship between teaching and scholarship.

Student Benefits

  • Participation in a variety of stimulating workshops and lively lectures with distinguished experts
  • Further development of research and information literacy skills
  • An initial group orientation meeting plus one individual meeting with the director of undergraduate research and creative activity
  • Enhanced development of students’ skills in critical thinking, creativity and curiosity
  • Attendance at a culmination event at the end of each semester.

Faculty Benefits

The RAP requires considerable commitment on the part of the student, but certainly no less commitment from the faculty research mentor. The most successful results – for faculty and students alike – have come from pairings that met regularly to discuss needs, progress and goals.

Undergraduate research apprentices do require more guidance than summer scholars. Faculty who are too pressed for time to meet with their apprentices may be disappointed in results. Such arrangements may leave apprentices confused and disillusioned. Faculty who commit for two semesters are more likely to reap the rewards of their mentoring.

Faculty benefits include:

  • The opportunity to train and develop new researchers and contributors in your discipline
  • Students have noted increased faculty enthusiasm by mentors
  • Offer interesting opportunities to students
  • Teach students about the research and creative process
  • Enjoy watching students grow and develop
  • Get help with research and creative work.

Research Apprentices may (among other things):

  • Help with library/internet research and other data collection
  • Research, collect and compile information
  • Create annotated bibliographies
  • Work to assist in large creative projects (e.g., plays, art installations, performing ensembles
  • Conduct fieldwork
  • Maintain and update quantitative and qualitative databases
  • Learn specific laboratory instrumentation or specific computer software skills
  • Conduct historical research
  • Advance archival research skills

Application process

The best bet for students interested in a research apprentice position is to find and contact a faculty mentor they would like to work with well ahead of the deadline. If you are a student and would like help figuring out how to find and contact a faculty mentor, please contact us.

In addition to the application, a cover letter, resume (or CV) and a letter of support from the sponsoring faculty member are required for each submission.

Cover Letter and Resume Submission

You are applying for a position that is competitive – take the time to write a strong application. If you have not written a job application before, we recommend you review the resources provided by Center for Career Planning before starting.

  • Please keep both documents to a maximum of one page each (12-point font, single-spaced)
  • Save documents as PDFs prior to submission
  • Refer to faculty using their correct titles: "Prof." or "Dr.," not “Ms.” or “Mr.” (And it should go without saying that you should never be using "Miss" or "Mrs." in a professional context unless the person you are addressing has specifically asked you to address them that way.)
  • Introduce yourself so they know who is applying. In the first paragraph, it is a good idea to let the committee know who you are, your year and potential major or field of interest. Additionally, if you have another significant college affiliation (e.g., PLP, Honors), please mention this as well.
  • Tailor your application to the job you are applying for. The committee will want to know why you are interested in this specific apprenticeship; to get an idea of the skills, qualities and experiences you would bring to it; and what you hope to get out of the position. They are less interested in generic discussion of your personal history, or experiences that have no bearing on the job you would like. So, refer to specific reasons why you are interested in this position and give reasons (supported with evidence – see below) for why you are the best candidate for this job. You will not likely be a competitive candidate if you cannot articulate why a specific apprenticeship is a good match for you, and what you hope to get out of it.
  • Provide evidence for your statements. It’s not enough to say “I am passionate about history/genetics/psychology/etc.” Why should the person reviewing your application take your word for it? And how does your claim to be passionate distinguish you from all the other applicants claiming exactly the same thing? Demonstrate your interest through concrete examples of things you have already done, e.g., what coursework have you taken? what independent study? what prior experiences (paid or volunteer) show that you are dedicated to the topic?
  • Copy edit your application before you send it. This should be obvious ... you will be judged if there are typos or spelling errors. Don’t let silly mistakes hold back your application.

What the RAP isn’t

The RAP is intended to be more than an average mentored experience. The student is typically earlier in their educational career and has less experience because we aim to fund students who haven’t yet had the opportunity to get involved in research, or a student moving into a new field of study or exploring a new methodology. Likewise, the faculty is expected to be an active mentor to the research apprentice, working to actively teach them about research in their field along the lines of an apprenticeship. The research apprentice’s work should involve participation in the research process, rather than only tasks like data entry or photocopying. In return, the apprentice is expected to act responsibly and efficiently, treating their position as a serious entry into the discipline.

Approved by UGRC 12/14/17


Christopher Newport University’s Undergraduate Council (URC) provides funds to support undergraduate student research and creative projects each semester. These awards are designed to support independent research and creative work inspired by a class, supervised independent study, or student interest based on faculty expertise; projects required for a specific concurrent class are ineligible. Students are encouraged to work closely with their faculty mentor in the development of their proposals. The intention of this program is that the student will be the lead or sole creator of any product.


Any undergraduate CNU student conducting an independent project supervised by a faculty member is eligible to apply. May graduates are not eligible for summer grants unless they are registered in a CNU graduate program. Students may receive no more than three IRG Grants in total during their undergraduate career at CNU. Summer Scholars and Research Apprentices are ineligible for an IRG grant during the same period.


Each sponsored project is awarded a $1,500/semester stipend for the student.

General Instructions

All application components must be submitted as attachments to a single email to the Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity who coordinates the selection process. Faculty sponsors submit a letter of support and a completed Advisor Approval Form. The application consists of six documents:

  • Cover Application
    Includes basic information in addition to a copy of current unofficial transcript. The Cover Application includes information on the student’s background and coursework that has prepared him/her to conduct this project.
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Project Abstract (250 words maximum)
  • Project Description (1000 words maximum—written for a general audience)
  • Faculty Advisor Support Letter
  • Faculty Advisor Approval Form

Project Description

The Project Description should be no more than 1000 words, and meet the following criteria:

  • State the primary objective(s) of your research or creative project.
  • Briefly describe the foundational themes that inform your subject and elaborate on how your own work builds on these themes and/or forges new ones.
  • Describe the processes, methods, and materials you will use to conduct your work.
  • Outline any anticipated results and their significance.
  • Orient your work within your broader course of scholarship: Does it build on work you’ve done in the past? Do you intend to develop it in the future?
  • Explain the relevance and implications of your research or project: Why is this work important?
  • This description should be written with a general reader in mind, a reader who may not necessarily be familiar with your discipline (and certainly not with the jargon of that discipline).

Faculty Advisor Support Letter and Approval Form

The Letter of Support should address the student’s and the project’s strengths and the faculty member’s willingness to supervise the project. The approval form can be downloaded here.


The UGRC will review applications thrice per year. The deadline for spring semester projects is December 1; the deadline for summer projects is March 15; the deadline for fall semester projects is June 1.

Review Process

The Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity will develop four pairs of reviewers to vet applications: one member from the URC will be paired with another faculty member (suggested by the Director and approved by the URC) to create a pair of reviewers for each college’s applications; in the event of disparate reviews, a third reviewer may be invited. Applications will be scored by rubric. The Director will make final notifications and announcements.


The student and the faculty advisor will be notified of decisions by the Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity by December 1, April 15, and June 20 (for each application period, respectively). Grants will be issued on the first day of summer, fall and spring semesters.


Students are required to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity in the semester following the grant period. At that time, the student must submit a copy of the completed project to be put on file in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. Completion surveys will also be required from both the student and the faculty mentor.

Amount and distribution

Funds up to $500 will be given to eligible undergraduates traveling either regionally, nationally or internationally to present research or creative work or to collect research data. Under special circumstances, students may be funded to attend a conference or symposium without presenting. Funding decisions are made by the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (OURCA) in coordination with the Undergraduate Research Council (URC). This is a reimbursement stipend; students can be reimbursed for travel, registration, accommodation and food costs after travel is complete.

Allocations will be made based for travel during four periods each year: January 1-March 31, April 1-June 30, July 1-September 30, October 1-December 31. Application deadlines will be the first of the month prior to the period in which travel is sought (December 1, March 1, June 1, September 1). The OURCA director will review requests on the first of each month. The total amount of funding will be divided across the four funding periods. In the event that fewer applications are received than funding allotments are available, the OURCA (in consultation with the URC) may issue additional money to selected recipients.

Student eligibility

  • Students must be full-time and currently enrolled at CNU at time of travel. Exceptions may be made on individual cases.
  • Students must provide evidence of submission of their research or creative project to an academic or professional event, such as a conference, symposium, show, competition or performance.
    • Students traveling to collect research data should provide a letter of introduction or other indication of admittance from the destination organization.
    • Students traveling to participate in an instructional symposium related to research or creative activity must provide rationale for attendance.
  • Students must indicate how they will participate meaningfully in the conference, symposium, event, exhibition or performance.
  • Only those projects that have been accepted for presentation, performance or data collection will be funded. Stipends for projects that have not been accepted will be reallocated.
  • If multiple students are presenting or working on the same project, the travel amount may be split between the students, not to exceed a total of $500.
  • Travel for students who graduate in May must be completed no later than June 30. Such students will be required to sign a statement indicating release of liability by the university for any travel between date of graduation and June 30.
  • Students must be in good standing as defined in the university catalog from the time of application through the time of final reimbursement.
  • There is a lifetime cap of $1,500 from the Research LENS Travel Fund for undergraduates.


  • Students must complete the online application form.
  • Students must have the approval of their department or program chair before the submission date. Department or program chairs will be asked to rate the application.
  • If the student does not have approval from a department or program chair, the student will be informed via email that they are not eligible for the stipend.
  • If the student’s project is a collaboration with a faculty mentor, the mentor’s (or primary investigator’s) approval is required in the online form.
  • If the department or program chair approves the student’s travel, and the OURCA approves, the OURCA will notify the student’s college dean.
  • The OURCA will notify the student and faculty adviser of decisions as soon as possible.
  • The OURCA encourages the seeking of matching funds.
  • Once a student has been issued travel funds, the student will be asked to schedule a meeting with the OURCA director to fill out the appropriate university pre-travel forms. No student will travel without completion of required documentation.
  • Within 10 business days of return from the trip, the student must submit the final paperwork for reimbursement to the OURCA.
  • Within four weeks of return from the trip, the student must provide a short email report (200-500 words) to the OURCA director. The report should address the ways in which the travel benefited the student’s research or creative activity.

Eligible expenses (according to Virginia guidelines and per diems)

  • Registration or entry fees
  • Travel costs
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Meals and incidentals

[Note: the online application link functions only for students]

The Summer Scholars program is an eight-week, in-residence, summer program for students and faculty to collaboratively work on a faculty-derived research question. The program will run June 1 - July 29, 2022, coinciding with the summer I and summer II academic terms. Program participants (student research fellows) will work collaboratively with a faculty member and be a part of a summer community of scholars. An information session will be held in mid-late January.

The program has several goals:

  • Develop enhanced research and communication skills
  • Provide opportunities to become better acquainted with the Trible Library scholarly resources
  • Expand inquiry and problem-solving capabilities

A stipend will be awarded to all student participants who meet all the attendance and research requirements of Summer Scholars. In addition, all students will receive a housing allowance for the length of the summer program.

External Funding Sources

  • American Association of University Women
  • Amgen Scholars Program
  • Association for Women in Science
  • Astronaut Foundation Scholarship
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellowship
  • Churchill Scholarship
  • Department of Defense Science, Math and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program (SMART)
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Fulbright US Student Program
  • DAAD German Studies Fellowships
  • DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE)
  • DAAD Scholarship and Fellowship Program
  • Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program
  • Evolving Earth Foundation Research Grant for Students
  • Garden Club of America Scholarships and Research Awards
  • Gates-Cambridge Scholarship
  • GEM Fellowship
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
  • Hedgebrook Writers in Residence
  • Humanities Undergraduate Research Awards
  • Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
  • The Leadership Alliance
  • NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship
  • National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship
  • National Institutes of Health Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award
  • National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • New England Historical Society Research Fellowships
  • Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grants
  • Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research
  • SMART (Science, Mathematics & Research for Transformation)
  • Social Sciences Research Council Programs
  • ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
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