Independent Research Funding



The Harvard College Research Program (HCRP) provides funding in support of student-initiated, independent scholarly research or creative endeavors undertaken with guidance of a Harvard-affiliated faculty mentor. HCRP also provides support for students presenting their independent research at a conference. HCRP grants advance academic experiences outside the classroom and expand opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members. In contrast to a research assistantship, HCRP recipients demonstrate autonomy in the development, direction, and preparation of the overall research project. Awards are available for fall and spring terms of the academic year, as well as for the summer. Undergraduate students from all concentrations are encouraged to apply.

Please note: Please be sure to download and read the application instructions for Spring 2021 and Summer 2021, even if you have applied to HCRP in past cycles. Click "Download URAF Applications Here" on the Application tab to access the instructions. [instructions updated as of 25 January]


In order to be eligible for HCRP funding, students must meet the following criteria:


  • Enrolled Harvard College degree-seeking students
  • Students in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Students whose research project faculty sponsors are members of a Harvard Faculty
  • Term-Time: students enrolled for the duration of the funded semester
  • Summer: students who will be enrolled for the upcoming fall term **

** Students in good standing on a voluntary leave of absence during the Spring term may apply for HCRP Summer funding provided that they obtain prior approval for funding from the Administrative Board.


Fall term funding: 12 noon (EDT), Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Spring term funding: 12 noon (EST), Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Summer funding: 12 noon (EST), Thursday, April 1, 2021

Late applications will not be accepted for term-time or summer cycles.

Conference funding: rolling application deadline



What are the typical HCRP award ranges? Term-time support is up to $1000 per student. Summer support typically ranges from $500-$4000. Conference support typically ranges from $500-$1000.

How competitive is the research application process? HCRP would love to support the research of every student at Harvard. However, there is always a budget that only allows so much to be spent. The summer is usually the most popular time for research because classes are not in session. During the term-time, approximately 80% of students are funded. During the summer, we accept between 60-75% of applicants.

Is it possible for me to get HCRP funding for both the spring and summer semesters? Does it decrease my chances of receiving funding? It is possible to receive funding for spring and summer but you do need to apply separately for each semester. Further, it does not decrease your chances of funding if you have applied and received funds before. If you apply for funding every semester and summer throughout your four years it may eventually decrease your chances, but we often see students apply for 2-3 terms consecutively.

Can I still receive funding if I am doing my research for credit? You cannot receive a stipend for research for which you are receiving credit. You can, however, be reimbursed for incidental expenses.

If I am receiving credit for my research and will be attending a conference to present my research can I ask for funding? You are eligible for financial support to go to a conference even if you are receiving credit for the research (HCRP won’t give any stipend for your research, but would consider expenses associated with the conference). Please apply through the separate HCRP conference funding application in CARAT.

I just found out about HCRP conference funding. Can I submit an application to retroactively fund conference participation expenses for a presentation that I gave last month? Unfortunately, no. HCRP funding (both conference and reserach) cannot be applied retroactively to cover expenses.

I was wondering if I could still apply for the summer HCRP even for 2-4 weeks, with faculty approval? I am not eligible for Federal Work Study and would have no way otherwise to support my research here over the summer. With HCRP you can apply for a project that fits your schedule, but we just ask that you adjust the budget request accordingly. If you are applying for 2-4 weeks, you should make sure those expenses are justified in the budget form.

What if the person directly mentoring me isn’t Harvard-affiliated? HCRP only funds research activity undertaken under the mentorship of a Harvard-affiliated faculty member. However, sometimes you may be working on a project on which there is a Harvard-affiliated faculty member, but the person directly mentoring you is not Harvard-affiliated. In this situation, you should have both the research advisor and the Harvard-affiliated faculty member co-write the letter of support to explain the unique situation and your role and how they will each be advising you.

Can two people who are working on the same project together submit the same research proposal, but tailored to our own personal interests? Group research projects are generally not well received. HCRP was founded on the principles of individual research and the student experience. However, if a group wants to apply for HCRP the proposals should be unique and independent to each student’s research.

Can I submit more than one HCRP application to request funding for more than one research project? No, students may only submit one application for research funding per cycle. Two applications will be accepted if and only if one application is for research support and the other is for conference funding. In order to be eligible for conference funding, you must be presenting your own independent research at the conference. Research and conference funding require separate applications for funding in CARAT.

If I receive HCRP funding and then don't end up using the award during the award period, can I defer my funding until the next cycle? No. HCRP funding must be used to support research conducted during the award period for which the funding is requested.


Herchel Smith is a competitive and generous award supporting high-potential undergraduates who are conducting a promising summer research project in mathematics, engineering, life, physical/natural or computer sciences. The project can be based anywhere in the world, but must be affiliated with a university, lab or research enterprise and be highly substantive: at least 10-weeks in duration, full-time in commitment, and exhibiting some degree of autonomy and input by the applicant in its design and execution (though of course the project will be a part of, and feed into, a larger ongoing research project supervised by a faculty PI).

Application (Deadline: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:00noon EST)

The deadline for receipt of COMPLETE application materials is 12:00noon EST, Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
*Application instructions and CARAT will be available on January 11, 2021



HCRPAll FieldsThe Harvard College Research Program (HCRP) provides funding support for students working with Harvard-affiliated faculty during fall, spring, or summer. Applicants must arrange their own research projects.
Herchel SmithSciencesHerchel Smith provides funding for exceptional student researchers conducting research over the summer. Projects may be undertaken anywhere in the world. Applicants must arrange their own research projects.
MMUFAll FieldsThe Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship provides financial support to high-potential juniors and seniors with a commitment to research, as well as faculty mentorship. Students should apply as sophomores.
RCEAll Fields

The Harvard College-Mindich Research and Community Engagement (RCE) award provides funding to students conducting an independent summer project that combines community-engaged service with student-initiated scholarly research.



The Harvard College-Mindich Independent Research and Community Engagement (RCE) award provides funding in support of undergraduates who are conducting an independent summer project that combines community-engaged service with student-initiated scholarly research. The project must involve the guidance of a Harvard-affiliated faculty mentor and be highly substantive: a minimum of around six weeks in duration, full-time in commitment, and exhibiting some autonomy in the development, direction, and execution of the project.



  • All continuing undergraduates (rising sophomores, juniors, seniors)
  • Students from all concentrations
  • Students in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Students whose project faculty sponsors are members of a Harvard Faculty
  • A preference for students whose service projects are conducted with an existing nonprofit organization/non-governmental agency

Application: 12 noon (EST), April 1, 2021

The deadline for receipt of COMPLETE application materials is 12:00pm EST, April 1, 2021.  INCOMPLETE OR LATE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.


MMUF Overview

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) selects ten students in their sophomore year to join a tightly-knit research community during junior and senior years to conduct independent research in close collaboration with a faculty mentor. Fellows attend regular seminar meetings (twice per month) with this cohort to discuss their projects, hear from faculty speakers, learn skills for effectively conducting and presenting research, and receive support in the graduate school application process. MMUF exists to counter the underrepresentation of marginalized groups on college and university faculties nationwide through activities designed to encourage the pursuit of the Ph.D. in the humanities and social sciences.