National Institutes of Standards & Technology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (NIST SURF) (students)

Optional campus draft deadline: ​noon on October 30, 2023

Direct application deadline: January 31, 2024, OR when the program has received the application limit, which may be sooner than the closing date.  Thus, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the on-line application and supporting documents ahead of the application deadline. See the SURF announcement posting on USAJobs.Gov. (**Pro tip: give yourself extra time to navigate USAJobs.Gov and still get your application in before the deadline.)

*Listen in to an official webinar to learn more: details via the official NIST website.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) at NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, MD; Boulder, CO; and Waimanalo, Hawaii. These are fully funded eleven-week research opportunities (and a few nine-week opportunities). The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission. Please see the official website for details of eligibility, application, and available laboratory placements in a given summer.


Who is eligible?

  • Currently enrolled undergraduates who are
  • US citizens or permanent residents
  • majoring in chemistry, computer science, physics, engineering, materials science, fire research, nanotechnology, information technology, mathematics, biology, manufacturing, statistics, or another STEM discipline, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and
  • considering going on to do graduate work in a STEM field

What makes a strong application for this fellowship?

  • Genuine interest on the part of the student,
  • Thoughtful choice of proposed placement(s),
  • A well-written essay, which sets out the student’s reasons for reasons for wishing to undertake a NIST SURF, along with relevant background/experience,
  • Letters of reference from appropriate STEM faculty/research PIs.

Where can I learn more?

  • Find details of eligibility, applications, and available placements in a given summer via the official NIST SURF website.
  • Watch the informational webinar on the official website.


How do I apply?

Since institutional nominations are no longer required, students should now apply directly for NIST SURF.  We are, however, offering an optional draft deadline for students to receive feedback on their application materials in advance of the direct application deadline. Interested applicants are warmly encouraged to book a Fellowships appointment through Handshake (note that Career Education is open during Winter Session, and appointments may be via telephone or video chat). *Cannot find an available appointment? Drop by Virtual Fellowships Pop-Up Advising: no appointment required! See our Events listings for details. 

Application checklist

☐ Two letters of reference (ideally from Wellesley faculty who have taught you in a relevant STEM class or supervised STEM research; if applicable, a letter from the PI of a research experience outside Wellesley may also be helpful). 

☐ A completed official application student application form

☐ A resume, including any STEM research experience, as well as laboratory skills, computer languages, etc.

☐ A personal statement, including statement of research interests (both broadly speaking and specifically addressing the choice of laboratory placements for the NIST SURF)

☐ Transcripts (your Wellesley College transcript, along with any applicable  study abroad transcripts and/or transfer institution transcripts; unofficial copies, including the version of your Wellesley transcript you can access online, are acceptable)

☐ Verification of US citizenship or legal permanent residence

Application timeline

Fall semester/winter break
Prospective applicants should consult application material and review the official NIST SURF website; they should ideally request letters of reference before the end of the fall semester, so as to give their recommenders plenty of time to write at a busy season.

Optional draft deadline: noon on October 30, 2023

Applicants who wish to receive feedback on their application materials should submit them to by this date. 

Direct application deadline: January 31, 2024
Start your application early and give yourself plenty of extra time to navigate so that you'll get your application in before the deadline.  The application will close if they reach their application limit before the deadline, so applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the on-line application and supporting documents ahead of the final deadline.

March or April
NIST SURF results typically announced

Mid-May through the end of July or early August, depending on the program (see official website for specifics)
NIST SURF takes place.

(**Fun fact: did you know that a Seven Sisters graduate played a role in starting the NIST SURF program?  Read more about Katharine Blodgett Gebbie.)


Email or call Caitlin Roberts-Donovan at 781.283.2347.