Principles and Policies for Applicants

Your Responsibilities as an Applicant

Throughout the entire application process (from research to submission), you must conduct yourself in an ethical way. As there are, at times, different understanding and interpretation when it comes to personal morals and ethics, we have highlighted some key points below. Any URAF staff member is also happy to discuss anything that you read on this page, especially if you would like further clarification or explanation.

Please ask questions first so there are no issues later on!


All URAF research programs, research and fellowship funding, and external fellowship competitions are for current Harvard College students and recent Harvard College alumni. Please be sure to carefully read the eligibility criteria for each opportunity before starting to put together your application.

Good Standing

Students must be in good standing — academic and disciplinary — at the time of application, throughout the application review period, for the remainder of time leading up to the start of the research or fellowship term, and throughout the research or fellowship term itself. Applicants are required to notify the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships of any changes in standing.

Ethical Conduct in the Application Process

Students applying for research programs and fellowships should consider these fundamental ethical principles during the application development process, in accordance with the Harvard College Honor Code:

  • All of the components of your application must be your own work. Although you certainly will want to get insight and feedback from professors, house tutors, and your peers, please be cautious perusing the work of others when considering ideas, format, and composition for your own application.

  • Your application must be an honest representation of yourself. As you consider relevant information to include in your dossier that will inform a selection committee about you, the candidate, please be mindful of accuracy in descriptions in your resume/c.v. or personal statements that indicate your role in organizations, publications, and other scholarly or personal attainments.

  • Your application materials should be as current as possible at the time of submission. Please make sure to provide the most up-to-date documents and other supplementary materials when you submit your application. In many cases, national fellowships will not consider new or revised information submitted after the deadline.

  • Information provided by URAF and House Fellowships Tutors is not intended for distribution. To prepare your application, you are availed of materials put together by URAF and Fellowship Tutors to help you be a competitive applicant. These materials (such as mid-term reports, final reports, and feedback on fellowship competitions available at the OCS library) should not be reproduced or shared.

Human Subjects Research

Any living person from or about whom information is collected for a scholarly study is considered a "research subject." The term is not limited to subjects involved in clinical or laboratory studiesit also extends to social science and humanities work, especially in the application of survey research methodology. University regulations and federal rules require advance review and approval of most human subjects research. In many cases, undergraduate students may get a waiver if the work contributes to the data collection effort of the faculty sponsor. However, whether or not the project is independent or part of a larger research endeavor, students and faculty should determine whether the project requires review. All undergraduate students conducting research involving human subjects should start this process by completing the Undergraduate Research Training Portal (URTP) decision form. The Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS) will work with you to determine next steps. More information about research integrity can be found in Principles and Policies for Researchers.

Late Applications

Application deadlines are strictly enforced. Deadlines are published in the calendar each year, are on the application instructions, and are listed within the application portal (CARAT) itself. As a policy, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships will not accept late applications. Exceptions must be appealed in advance of the deadline and with a written explanation from the applicant’s resident dean.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation submitted for a particular competition are not transferable to other competitions. The office will not release copies of recommendations to an applicant’s House file without the express consent of the recommender. In compliance with FERPA, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships allows students to choose whether or not to waive their rights of access to letters of recommendation submitted on their behalf.

Applying from Abroad

Harvard undergraduates are encouraged to study and conduct research abroad. When applying for opportunities from abroad, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all required application materials are submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships by the stated deadline. Please keep deadline time zones in mind! If an applicant is invited to interview whilst abroad, a virtual session can be arranged with the selection committee during the specified interview timeframe.

Class Status and Off-Cycle Applications

Students with Advanced Standing and students who are otherwise off-cycle should contact URAF before applying to discuss eligibility. In some cases, a letter from the Resident Dean will be required to confirm class status and graduation date. Please see the FAQs for more information on off-cycle applications.

Leaves of Absence

In accordance with the Student Handbook, students in good standing who are on a voluntary leave of absence may be permitted to apply for Harvard funding, including but not limited to summer grants, provided that they have obtained the Administrative Board's prior approval. In making this determination, the Administrative Board will consider the relevant circumstances, including, for example, the circumstances that led to the student's leave of absence. Students on leave should start this approval process as soon as possible by contacting their Resident Dean; if approved, students must submit all applications by their posted deadlines.


All application materials submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships will be held on file for three calendar years after the submission date. File materials for award recipients will be held in perpetuity through the Harvard University archives. File materials for unsuccessful applicants will be destroyed after three years.

Multiple Awards

In all competitions the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships administers, individuals who receive multiple award offers are expected to notify the office (as well as the other funding administrators) of this fact to discuss next steps. Students are not typically permitted to hold multiple awards for the same project nor accept multiple awards during the same time period. Multiple award offers (actual or prospective) should be discussed with a URAF staff member to ensure transparency, fairness, and equity in the funding process.

Access to Records

All applications for Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships competitions are submitted in confidence. The office will not release applicant names to any source outside URAF. Names of award recipients, however, are considered public knowledge.

Graduate School Applications

Some fellowships require independent application for admission to graduate university programs. Students must obtain the admission applications directly from and apply independently to the intended institution. The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships does not keep copies of university applications on file.

Unsolicited Material

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships accepts only those materials required from applicants in each of its competitions. Unsolicited materials will not be accepted.