Frequently Asked Questions

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Applying to SPUR

What is the Application Deadline?

There is not a hard deadline. For 2018, we will begin making offers in mid February. We will continue to review applications until all positions are filled. Please note that space is very limited.

Statements on your Application:

How in depth should the statements be?

We don't want you to feel burdened with a long complicated application, but we do want to know about you, your goals, studies, talents, motivation, what you hope to gain, and what you would bring to the program. We aim to invite an energetic and diverse cohort for our rigorous program. You should clarify your research interests and perhaps list some labs in which you would like to work. The statement about your personal interests is entirely optional, but it could enhance your application.

Is there a word minimum, maximum, or suggested length?

There is no word limit for any of the statements. Just be as concise as you can without omitting any ideas that might help us in evaluating your application. Admission requires more than positive qualities and well written statements, it requires an available host laboratory for each participant; therefore it is suggested that, somewhere in your statements, you explain your research choices and possibly suggest some professors with whom you might want to work.

Letters of Recommendation:

Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation?

Your letters of recommendation should come from professional people who are qualified to advise us candidly on your abilities, motivation, integrity, intellectual vitality, and enthusiasm for science. They could be from professors, instructors, or other researchers in non-science fields. If you have participated in a prior summer research experience, your mentor from that experience would be suitable.

What should I tell my recommenders to address in their letters?

Direct them to our Note to Referees. Please note that it would be helpful to you, in preparing your application, to read the Note to Referees.

How should my recommenders send their letters?

Direct them to our Note to Referees.

Should the recommendation letters be submitted at the same time that the online application is submitted?

Doesn't matter.

Grades & Transcripts:

Is there a cutoff GPA for selection to SPUR?

No. Although we seriously consider applicants' grades, we feel that grades very often do not reflect the creative abilities of prospective scholars; and so, we place heavy emphasis on candid evaluations within recommendation letters that accompany the applications.

Why does SPUR not want official transcripts?

We want to know what classes you've taken and the grades you earned. We ask you to send us a list of your classes and grades electronically (not hard copy), so we can easily add it to our database. It is best if you simply give us a list of your classes and grades. We don't want you to waste time or money arranging for official transcripts when you submit your application. When you are accepted into the program, we will ask for official transcripts to verify your application and to update your grades in our database.

If it's really difficult to upload my transcripts into the application form, can I mail them or email a scan?

We want ultimately to have a spreadsheet that includes all applicants' information, including courses & grades, so we prefer to have you manually enter or upload your grades as neatly formatted text into the online application form. Our second choice would be for you to send them by email. But if it is much easier for you to mail them, that would be fine.


Can students attending schools on the quarters system participate in the program?

Students attending schools which are on the quarters system should not be deterred from applying - each year we have one or two students who arrive in June as soon as they finish school.

How do I know if I am a first generation student?

You are a first generation student if: Neither parent (natural or adoptive) earned a bachelor’s degree before your 18th birthday, or you resided with and received support from only one parent who did not earn a bachelor’s degree before you were 18.

Can seniors/post-bacs apply and participate in SPUR?

With current funding sources for our summer undergraduate research opportunities only students who are undergraduates as the time of participation (i.e., not graduating in May or June of 2018) are eligible. Post-Baccalaureates are not eligible.

Can international students (non-US citizens) apply and participate in SPUR?

Most of our funding sources require that sponsored Interns be US citizens or permanent residents (having green card). However, we usually host one international student per year who is self-supporting. I.e., International students who participate in the program supply their own funding.

Do I need to have Health Insurance in order to participate in SPUR?

Yes. The University of Oregon requires that you have Health Insurance coverage while you participate in SPUR.


Can I call to find out if my application is complete, whether I made the short list, or what faculty are reviewing my application?

Email would be better, but feel free to contact us with any questions. Our selection process can take awhile as we ensure that applicants fit well with the respective participating faculty.

Problems with online submission:

Some applicants have had problems with the online submission, receiving error messages or not being able to load the page. If you encounter problems, please

  1. Contact us, so we can correct it if it's on our end; AND
  2. We recommend completing the SPUR application form in a separate word document found here to be able to submit your information when the problem has been corrected. Due to the volume of applications we are unable to manually input individual applications.

Most often, we have found that the problem has been on the applicant's side, generally with the internet browser. If you're so inclined, you might try to clear your cache, discard temporary internet files and temp files, and clear browser history. Then try again to submit.

Selection for SPUR

What are you looking for in a SPUR applicant?

In the selection process, we look for people who exhibit creativity, motivation, diligence, native intelligence, integrity, broad interests, an interest in the specific research at the University of Oregon, and an upbeat outlook, among other things. We try to choose candidates who would benefit most from this intensive program. We don't require prior experience to apply: Some of our labs prefer prior experience, others don't, and some prefer no experience. So, prior experience is desirable for some labs but not others.

How does the selection process work?

The application materials, including basic information, areas of research interest, statements, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are compiled as a packet for each applicant. These are read and evaluated by the administrators, and a short list is made. Each participating faculty member evaluates packets from applicants who have similar research interests; each faculty member then generates a ranked list of preferred candidate applicants. The Director then makes offers of admission to the top candidate(s) on each faculty member's list. Because it often happens that a candidate applicant will be selected by more than one professor, it is helpful for us if you list professors with whom you might want to work. Thus, before each offer of admission is made, a professor and the candidate commit to working together in the summer program.

Following acceptance, the potential host professor and the candidate scholar then communicate with one another by email/phone/Skype, to discuss the summer research possibilities, responsibilities, expectations, etc.

When will applicants be notified if they are accepted into the program?

We will begin reviewing application files in mid-January, and by the end of January we notify all applicants whether they have made the short list. From the short list, we begin making offers to candidates. The process of filling available spots generally takes a few weeks. We maintain a waiting list and ask for your patience. In 2014, we will have two separate waves of acceptances: the first in late January and the second beginning in early March and continuing until all slots are filled – usually by April. The last few slots are very fluid, because labs often find new funding or new openings. Thus, each year there are late applicants who are admitted to the program as late as May.

SPUR Program details

What are the SPUR Progam dates?

Although we keep the participation dates flexible to accommodate the variety of schedules of schools across the country, most interns arrive on the last Friday in May. The program is 10 weeks in duration. The Program dates for 2018 is June 4th, 2018 - August 10th, 2018.

What are the specifics of the SPUR offer?

Round trip from your home to the University of Oregon and housing, including meals, are arranged by our staff and paid by SPUR. Housing includes room and board, and interns are housed together. For a few years, the stipend was $400/wk. This year we plan to increase the summer stipend, but a concrete number has not been decided at this time. Our summer stipend is paid only at the end of each month, with the 1st pro-rated paycheck at end of June (so interns come prepared to avoid a cash flow problem).1

What is the weekly schedule for the summer?

The SPUR experience is very intensive in research work, and in social, cultural, and recreational activities. Interns spend 40+ hrs/wk in the research lab, on a generally flexible schedule determined by the host lab and mentors. Interns attend a Faculty Research Seminar Series presentation on a specific area of life sciences research given by a different UO Professor. All Interns attend a weekly Professional Development Workshop Series presentation. One evening each week all interns discuss their ongoing research with their fellow interns at the Research Discussion Group series.

These events are listed on links from the home page, and previous schedules are available. Once or twice each week, the SPUR Director meets informally with each of the interns to hear comments, complaints, problems, ideas for improving the program, gossip, etc. One or more evenings per week, the group gathers with the SPUR facilitator (a UO undergraduate researcher who participates in SPUR, living in the dorms with the other interns) to plan weekend activities/excursions. Throughout the summer, professional workshops and individual mentors work to train interns in reading and preparing scientific papers and scientific presentations, using online tools in life sciences research, keeping lab notebooks, responsible research conduct, accessing career opportunities, and other issues related to careers in life sciences research.

Undergraduate Research Symposium:

At summer's end, all interns present their work in formal professional format at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which consists of a poster session and oral sessions. Most interns will travel to a national scientific meeting, e.g., ABRCMS, SACNAS, or AISES, to present this work.

1. In special circumstances, students can be invited to participate in the program with SPUR interns, but without the additional financial support outlined in the SPUR offer.

Outside the Lab

What is available outside of the Research program?

The SPUR fellows several time in the Summer travel all around Oregon, for recreation, sightseeing, shopping, concerts etc. Activities may include hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, the Cascade Mountains, Crater Lake, concerts/shopping in Portland & Seattle, various places along the Oregon coast, Silver Falls State Park, Fall Creek, the California Redwoods, climbing South Sister (of the Three Sisters, dormant (so far) volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range, visible from some of the labs), rafting on the McKenzie River, the Rogue River, canoeing on the Willamette River, and many more activities. Often a small group of interns and friends have climbed Spencer's Butte (a 2000+ ft peak in South Eugene) a couple times/wk. Eugene has many miles of bike trails and running trails around the town.

What recreational facilities are available on campus?

We have a terrific Student Recreation Center (SRC) close to the dorms, with exercise machines, weight machines & free weights, swimming pool, climbing wall, squash courts, racquetball courts, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, aerobics dance and yoga classes, an indoor track and our world famous outdoor track, Hayward field. We have miles and miles of maintained running paths through the city. Miles of bicycle paths also wind through the city and into the countryside. The Willamette River is immediately adjacent to campus, and you can rent canoes, inner tubes, swim or just jump in on hot summer days. We have a great Outdoor Pursuits Program that offers courses in wilderness survival, rock climbing, sailing, and more; they organize trips around the pacific northwest (rafting, hiking, biking, canoeing, etc); and it has an extensive collection of guides, maps and videos. Here's a UO campus map and directions.

What is Eugene like?

The Eugene metropolitan area has a population of over 200,000. Yet the city of Eugene maintains a colorful, small town feel. Our links to Eugene and Local Area and PlanetEugene offer information about arts, culture & entertainment, shopping, outdoor recreation, news, lodging, transportation & maps. You can also check it out on Wikipedia.

Eugene is one of the most bicycle-friendly places in the country, with many miles of bike routes and bike paths through and around town, the parks and gardens, and the wetlands.

The summer weather is dry, very low humidity, and very pleasant (July weather summary for Eugene).

Throughout the summer, we have a Saturday Market, with a growers market, local food and crafts vendors, and local entertainment on the Market Stage.

The Willamette River runs through the University and is joined by the McKenzie River just north of town. From Eugene, it is just over an hour's drive to either the Cascade mountains to the East, the Coastal Mountains and the Oregon coast to the West, and Portland and the Columbia River Gorge to the North.

Eugene is often referred to as Track Town USA. You see people running constantly -- there are many 10K, 5K, 2K, and fun run races around town, all-comers track meets several weeks in the summer, running groups, and a new Eugene Marathon. At Hayward Field, each year is the Prefontaine Classic Track Meet that brings world class runners. In the past, Eugene and UO have hosted the national championships, the world championships, and the US Olympic Trials.

There is great music in town of many types. Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Mozart Players, Jazz, Swing dances, salsa and tango groups, Zimbabwean marimba groups, drumming circles, Oregon Country Fair, City of Eugene Summer Concerts in the Park and Movie Night in the Park, and many more events and groups.

If I participate in SPUR, what should I bring to Eugene?

The UO Housing "What to Bring" page lists some fundamentals. For Summer activities, you will want hiking shoes/boots, swim wear, running shoes, water recreation footwear (particularly TEVA-type sport sandals for tide pooling), sunglasses, sunscreen, hat. Overall the summers in Oregon are beautiful. However, you should be prepared for the extremes. Temperatures will vary greatly: in 2008, we had record heat in late May and record cold in early June; ski areas remained open in June, while students were trying to beat the heat by walking from their dorms to the river with inner-tubes. You'll want a warm jacket and sweaters for cool nights on coast trips, and camping in the mountains can be co-old. There are typically several days of 100°F weather each summer, but it's very dry heat. Be prepared for rain, for heat, but mostly for beautiful weather.



  • Application Deadline
  • Application Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Grades & Transcripts
  • Eligibility
  • Inquiries
  • Problems with online submission 

  • Selection criteria
  • Selection process
  • Notification

  • Dates & flexibility
  • Offer -- stipend, travel, housing, meals
  • Weekly Schedule
  • SPUR Undergraduate Research Symposium

  • Summer in Oregon
  • Travel around Oregon
  • Recreational Facilities
  • Recreational Events
  • Cultural Events
  • Eugene, Oregon