Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP)

Mentor Handbook

The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program has been designed to assist faculty in reconciling their commitments to research with their responsibilities for undergraduate education. By promoting faculty-student research collaboration, URAP works to invigorate undergraduate education and to contribute to the sense of intellectual community on campus.

Undergraduate Research Apprentices are recruited to assist faculty with their research. For this commitment of time and effort, students receive research mentoring, refinement of their research skills and a closer look at the research life of academics. Apprentices are not paid but may receive academic credit. For their commitment of time, faculty receive assistance on their projects and a small grant ($300-600) to cover research expenses related to the apprentice.

The Program was started in Fall 1991 and is administered by the Undergraduate Division of the College of Letters and Science. The Program is open to Berkeley students and faculty in all campus colleges and professional schools.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships was established in 1997/98 and charged with integrating undergraduates more fully into the research life of the university. This office works to highlight existing research activities and programs on campus, to promote greater participation by faculty and students, to collect data on undergraduate and faculty collaboration in research, and to develop resources and funding necessary to expand undergraduate research opportunities, and thus enhance student learning and satisfaction.

OURS directly administers the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, the Haas Scholars Program, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF L&S and SURF Rose Hills), and the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize. This office also houses the two major campus journals for the publication of the undergraduate research: Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, for research in the humanities and social sciences, and Berkeley Scientific, for research in the sciences.

The central campus website for undergraduate research, Undergraduate Research @ Berkeley, http://research.berkeley.edu, is a project of this office.

Several annual events focusing on research issues and opportunities for undergraduates are initiated, co-sponsored, and/or funded by this office. In recent years, OURS organized the Research and Scholarships Fair (in fall), in addition to the SURF Conference (late summer) and the Haas Scholars Conference (early spring).

The URAP Faculty Portal is a web-based tool to help you manage your student applications, your apprentice enrollments, and your own ongoing participation the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program.

After your project is approved and posted to the URAP website, you will be e-mailed a personal portal link that will bring you to your own webpage portal. Please save the e-mail containing the link. For greater convenience you will want to BOOKMARK it in your browser.


On the top left hand side of the page, you will see brief messages from our office. We will use this area to remind you of upcoming deadlines and opportunities.


To the right are links that take you to various help or information pages. These will change frequently, to correspond to issues that come up in the semester cycle.


gives the current status of your project and allows you to list your project for the following term as open or closed to new applicants.


lets you review, edit, add, and delete your projects.


allows you to see if your selected apprentices have completed the enrollment process and the number of units they are taking. You will find e-mail addresses for all of your apprentices here. This is also where you go to renew Learning Contracts for apprentices continuing from the previous semester.


allows you to view and manage your student applications after the application deadline; e-mail students if you so chose. This is also where you create and submit Learning Contracts for your new apprentices.

MESSAGE BOARD (a semi-public space)

In the lower left is the “message board” on which you should post messages to applicants, and later, your chosen apprentices. All applicants to your project are issued a link to your “board”—they are the only ones with access and may read but not post. It is a one-way communication.

By posting your interview and selection choices here, you let students who were NOT CHOSEN know to move on, and that their application was not successful.

THE BIGGEST COMPLAINT that the URAP program receives is about the failure of faculty to notify students who have not been selected. Posting on the Message Board offers a way to notify students without becoming entangled in e-mail correspondence at a very busy time of year.

What do students see? See some sample postings, below.

Some sample postings

Professor Ursa Arktos

Thanks for your applications to my URAP projects. Your applications were all very impressive and I am delighted to see so many of you interested in this fast-evolving field.

My other commitments have made it necessary for me to limit my mentoring time this semester, so I will be interviewing only three applicants: Mary Kuo, Jean Czwensky and Sanjay Wilson

Mary, Jean and Sanjay, please sign up for a time during my office hours this week, Wednesday or Friday, 1-3 PM. (The regular meeting time for this project will be Friday at 2 PM.)

The rest of you are welcome to apply again next year. Investigate my Ursology 10 course if you just can’t wait to learn more about bears. Thank you for your interest.

Professor B. Smith

These applications are amazing! I would like to talk to all who have applied next Wednesday at 4 PM in my office, 122 Nano Hall. Please review my project description and come prepared to discuss any recent article on nanoscience that seems related to my topic. This is my chance to see if you can use the library, if we are thinking on the same wave-length, and if you are ready to get to work!

Professor L. Park
Time Studies

Dear applicants,
I am sorry to say that a family emergency will keep me away from Berkeley until September 15th. I am very eager to work with apprentices this semester, but I will not be able to interview anyone until the 16th or 17th. If you are still interested and available that week, please send me an e-mail (notreal@tempo.berkeley.edu) and I will get in touch with you for an interview.


All regular faculty, adjunct faculty, faculty emeriti, lecturers with appointment, and research staff are eligible to apply to work with students through this program. Visiting scholars are also eligible to mentor, but due to our funding situation are not eligible to receive mentor funds. 

One semester or two?

Mentors submitting projects for the Fall semester may request apprentice commitments and URAP mentor funds for one or both semesters. Spring submissions will be eligible for funding and student commitments for Spring only. No new projects are initiated for the summer months. (See Summer Stipends for Students)

Time commitment:

URAP requires considerable commitment on the part of the student, but certainly no less commitment from the research mentor. The most successful results–for mentors and students alike–have come from pairings that met regularly to discuss research progress. (Joint publications have resulted from many of these associations.) In our experience, most students appreciate and benefit from structure in their research assignments. Undergraduate Research Apprentices do require more guidance than GSRs. Mentors who are too pressed for time to meet with their apprentices may be disappointed in results; such arrangements may leave apprentices confused and disillusioned. Mentors who commit for two semesters are more likely to reap the rewards of their mentoring.

The project proposal:

Each faculty applicant is asked to submit a brief description of the project proposed for an Undergraduate Research Apprentice. In addition to addressing the intellectual scope and tasks required, you are asked to be as specific as possible about the skills, interests, course preparation, class level and time commitment you seek in an apprentice. Be explicit about your needs; students need clues to assess their own suitability for your project.

* Projects that might be appropriate for freshmen are always welcome.

Task assignment:

Most academic research encompasses a variety of tasks. Some tasks are repetitive or tiresome, even though essential to the research. While you may certainly assign such tasks to research apprentices, remember to also include them in the conceptual work of the project. This is, after all, a program designed to spur interest in advanced research, and one for which students have the option of receiving academic credit. Assignments which are wholly clerical or rote in nature, with little potential to advance the apprentices’ understanding of the field, are inappropriate for this program., 

Faculty mentors select their own apprentices

from a pool of applicants who have applied specifically for that position through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. (Students may apply for two or three projects if they wish; in practice about half of the applicants apply for only one research project.)

Student eligibility

URAP is currently open to all regularly enrolled undergraduates in good standing. It is not normally open to extension or concurrent enrollment students.

Student applications and deadlines

The final day for students to apply for positions is always early in the second week of classes each term. This late application date allows students new to campus to participate and allows us to gather the largest and, we hope, best applicant pool for each research project.

Student applications are collected online via our URAP student application system. Mentors can review applications online within hours of the student deadline. The online application contains a self-reported GPA and list of relevant coursework. We instruct students to bring along an unofficial transcript should they be invited for an interview.

Please review the applications as soon as possible and use the “message board” area of your faculty portal to communicate with your applicants. You may, of course, contact the students that you wish to interview individually, but by posting the names of your selected applicants on your board, you also notify those who were not selected. (See sample messages in the faculty portal section.)

If a position receives very few applications, the projects may be listed again during an extended application phase until a student is found who fits your needs. Contact Stefanie at urap@berkeley.edu as soon as you become aware of problems.

Interview and selection

Faculty may interview (and select) as few or many students as they feel they can comfortably mentor. Your time is the main resource here. Many faculty find an economy of scale in mentoring 2 or 3 students, but resources such as bench space and research expenses will be a constraint in many fields. (Note that only one URAP grant is made to each faculty member, regardless of the number of apprentices signed on.)

We have occasionally had faculty who have agreed to mentor as many as 10 or 12 students. This has met with mixed results. Many students do best working in a well-structured team, and appreciate having peer apprentices. On the other hand, some students clearly feel less individually accountable in a larger group. The apprentice-mentor relationship may lose some of its unique appeal for both student and faculty as it begins to replicate the classroom experience. Faculty should choose according to their own needs and time availability.

Please note: The online application shows self-reported courses, grades, and GPA – many faculty ask their applicants to bring an unofficial transcript to an initial interview.

Notifying students who were not selected

Again, please remember that the posted list of students selected (or interviewed) also serves as notice to students who were not selected. Even if the successful candidates have been personally informed, please post a list at your message board so that unsuccessful candidates can end their anxious waiting. If you have chosen to notify students via e-mail, please remember to e-mail those who were not chosen.

As soon as possible after apprentice selection has been made, you should meet with the selected students to discuss a Learning Contract. This contract is important; it spells out your expectations and formalizes the relationship. Learning Contracts are created on your URAP portal, and are due on Friday of the third week of instruction. As of Fall 2018, the registrar’s NEW ADD/DROP deadline will be Wednesday of the fourth week of classes. If students plan to enroll for units in conjunction with URAP, they need to receive their contracts in time to submit to us so we can issue enrollment information. Please see more information about the new add/drop deadline here:


New Apprentices

To create a Learning Contract for a new apprentice, go to “Student Applicants” in your URAP Portal. In the applicant list, or in the individual student application, select “Create LC.”

A Learning Contract will pop up in your portal, drawing information from the student application. You will need only to indicate

  • the number of hours you and the student have agreed upon
  • the specific learning goals and tasks the student will need to complete. Please indicate as clearly as possible the kind of tasks the student should be prepared to undertake. Students need to know in order to assess and budget their time.

If you have already detailed goals and tasks in your project description, you may write “see project description.” You will not be able to submit your contract until you enter text in the description field.

When you hit the submit button a link will be emailed to the apprentice. The apprentice will then review the Learning Contract, “sign” it, and submit it electronically to the URAP office. At that point, the URAP office emails the class number and permission number your apprentice needs to enroll in your section of UGIS 192, if the apprentice wishes to enroll in conjunction with URAP.

Continuing Apprentices

You can create renewal contracts for your continuing apprentices by entering the “Learning Contracts/Apprentices” panel of your portal. Find the name in the previous semester list and click on “Renew LC.” Revise and continue as for new apprentices, above.

Please complete your part of the Learning Contract by Friday of the third week of instruction so that students will have adequate time to complete the enrollment process. They must file electronically with our office by 9 AM on Wednesday of the fourth week.

Units or no units?

The unit-value of the apprentice assignment should be taken seriously. Neither the faculty nor the program will benefit if a perception develops that this is a way to get “easy units.” We hope to attract students who are able to make a serious commitment to research and who will work diligently to earn their academic credit.

Most apprentices are eager to earn units in conjunction with their research work. Your specification of the hours you require will create an upper limit on the number of units they may take. The formula is 3 hours per week per unit, with 1- 4 units available. Some students will elect to take fewer units than they are entitled to because of concerns about cumulative unit ceilings.

Students who wish to have their transcript reflect their research apprenticeship should enroll in at least one unit.

* Even if a student is NOT enrolling in units, he or she must still file a Learning Contract by Wednesday of the fourth week of classes.

UGIS 192

Each faculty mentor who is on teaching status will have a unique section of UGIS 192. The URAP office will manage distribution of the class and permission numbers to students.

More than 12 hours

It is the practice in some science labs to require students to work more that 12 hours. If you require this, please be explicit in your project description. And please have a frank conversation about coursework and time management with your apprentice. Many are overly optimistic about their time at the start of the term. You do not want to contribute to a student’s academic difficulties.

Your URAP Grant

Each mentor can receive up to $350 in funds to be applied in support of the project to which the research apprentice is assigned. This grant is not designed to be a research grant per se, but a grant in support of undergraduate education. In this spirit, please apply the grant to your research in a manner that will enhance the research experience of the apprentice. In addition to the purchase of lab materials, software, or whatever may be required to get apprentices started, you should consider the purchase of books, journals, conference fees, or other items that could give the apprentice an overview of research in the field. Because of limited funding, these funds are not available to visiting scholars. Please email us at urap@berkeley.edu if you have any questions about appropriate use of funds.

Please note that only one URAP grant is made to each faculty member, regardless of the number of apprentices signed on.


At the beginning of each semester, we will ask you to let us know if you would like to receive funding for the semester in support of the URAP project. The funds will then be transferred to your home department soon after Learning Contracts are filed in the program office. More information about the disbursement process will be shared soon. 

Please note again that we cannot transfer funds until your Learning Contracts are complete; remind your apprentices to complete the Learning Contract process, even if they are not seeking units.

URAP is funded by temporary funds from the State of Californ

The student evaluation

Students are asked to write a brief summary and evaluation of their research experiences, to be completed online by the last day of final exams. Our office will send students the link they will need to complete the evaluation.

The purpose of this report is to allow our program to record and assess the benefits to students of the research experience. (It is through these summary reports that we have learned of co-authored papers, conference trips, graduate school decisions and other outcomes that students attribute to the research experience.)

We will also ask a few survey questions each term, to provide the campus with some quantitative data for the program overall, and to obtain student feedback on different aspects of program administration.


Although URAP is in a P/NP grading environment, the URAP grading process is made complex by (1) the fact that some URAP mentors have teaching appointments, and therefore access to the CalCentral system, while others do not. Additional complexities come from the fact that (2) not all students enroll for units, but we need to know outcomes for all students, whether or not they are officially enrolled for units.

All mentors will need to report their URAP grades at their URAP portal. Additionally, those URAP mentors with teaching appointments will need to report their grades officially in CalCentral for UGIS 192.

A. For mentors WITH teaching appointments

Double-report your grades: CalCentral + URAP portal

Each faculty mentor is assigned a unique section of UGIS 192. At the end of each term you will find your section of UGIS 192 among your other courses in CalCentral. This is where you will report official grades for students enrolled for units. URAP grade options are P, NP and I.

You should also report grades in your URAP portal; indeed this is the only place you can report completion for students who have not signed up for units. Even if they have not signed up for units, the URAP Office still needs to know that they have successfully completed their apprenticeships. This is also the place to leave evaluative comments about individual apprentices, and/or about the program.

B. For mentors WITHOUT teaching appointments

Report at URAP portal only

Some URAP mentors have research, rather than teaching appointments.We cannot link these mentors directly to CalCentral; the URAP Office must report your grades for you. You will need to report grades to the URAP Office via your URAP portal. This is also the place to leave evaluative comments about individual apprentices, and/or about the program.

Incompletes and missing apprentices

Please contact us if you have any difficulties with your apprentices, or if you are considering assigning an incomplete (I) grade.


In summer 2024, we will again offer limited funding to allow some URAP apprentices to continue work on faculty research projects in paid status ($3,500) during the summer. 

Faculty who have served officially as URAP research mentors in both Fall 2023 AND Spring 2024 may nominate a continuing apprentice for funding. We expect 30-35 awards will be available, but nominations always exceed available awards.


The nominated student must have filed learning contracts for both Fall AND Spring. Students must complete their spring enrollment on time. Students may not file late or retroactive contracts for the purpose of establishing eligibility. PLEASE CHECK your URAP PORTAL to verify that your nominee has filed contracts for both semesters.

We will expect to see the end-of-semester evaluation report from the student in our database, and evidence that the student fulfilled the terms of the learning contract. The grade that you submitted in December will serve this purpose. These materials, as well as your NOMINATION LETTER, will be reviewed in making awards. We are looking to sponsor projects that show evidence of strong working relationships and significant educational opportunity for students.

UCSF Mentors: Please contact Stefanie at urap@berkeley.edu if you plan to nominate an international student. 

Apprentices who will graduate in May 2024 ARE eligible for the summer stipend award and may be nominated.


This award is paid as a stipend through the SIS Award System. Awards will be for $3,500 and will require undergraduate apprentices to work for about 200 hours over the course of the summer. 

Stipends may be split in two only if the work could be better performed by two apprentices and only if both apprentices are willing to work for the reduced amount. In most cases a split stipend will not allow a student to meet even subsistence goals. Since we always receive many more nominations than available stipends, we don’t award more than one stipend per mentor/team.

In the context of current fees, $3,500 is not a large sum. We hope that some faculty will be able to supplement these funds with funds of their own. We also hope that faculty who are feeling momentarily well funded from other sources will employ those funds to support their apprentices this summer, and permit us to spread summer funding a little farther.

How to nominate an apprentice

FIRST please check with the student you are nominating to be sure the student is available and committed to doing your research. Each year we have had one or two students decline the award after it was too late to re-award another student.

As faculty mentor, you initiate the process by submitting a LETTER nominating your apprentice for a summer stipend. Please submit your nomination via a google form; the link will be shared in the call for nominations.

  • describe the particular skills and qualities this student has brought to your project
  • tell how the student would benefit educationally from the proposed summer work
  • indicate how this student would advance your project in the coming summer
  • also indicate how you plan to fulfill your role as research mentor over the summer months.

The deadline to submit a nomination is Wednesday, March 13th. The results will be announced by April 12th.


SCIENCES: If you currently have an NSF grant, you may find that it is quite easy to request additional funding to support an undergraduate. Contact the NSF program officer for your grant to ask about an “REU supplement.” (REU = Research Experience for Undergraduates)

STUDENT-INITIATED RESEARCH: The URAP summer award is for faculty-initiated research. If your apprentice is about to embark on a project that is truly of his or her own design, SURF, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, may be the more appropriate source of funding. The $5,000 SURF award is open to L&S students who will be entering their final year and working on a thesis or other capstone project. Information can be found at http://surf.berkeley.edu/. That deadline is March 1st; the student must initiate that application.

For students in the sciences and engineering, please also consider the SURF Rose/Hills Summer program ($5,000): http://surf.berkeley.edu/.

Questions? Contact Stefanie Ebeling at urap@berkeley.edu.

For the link to submit a new project proposal, please contact Stefanie Ebeling at urap@berkeley.edu

Continuing faculty members should revise and submit new projects in their individual URAP faculty portals. E-mail us if you have misplaced your portal link.

URAP Student Applications: students enter information directly online at the URAP student site.

The URAP Learning Contract is created online, in your portal. It outlines the duties and hours your apprentice will commit to your project. You submit the contract online, it then goes to the student for a “signature” and finally to the URAP office. The URAP office emails the class- and permission number your apprentice needs to enroll in UGIS 192.

URAP Final Grade Request:  All grade reporting for URAP happens online. See How Are Apprentices Evaluated for details.

Are there several Post-Docs (or others) supervising apprentices in your lab? As long as their emails are inserted into the “research associate” field in your portal, they will receive copies of all of our deadline reminders and instructional mailings. This is generally beneficial, but you need to be sure there is coordination in posting projects each term, and in reviewing applications. When several people can change the project listings or mark applications, there is potential for them to work at cross purposes. You can make one person the portal coordinator, or just encourage all users to communicate and avoid stepping on each other’s toes. Please update contact information for project supervisors each term.


Contact Stefanie Ebeling at urap@berkeley.edu.