Undergraduate Student Opportunities

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program 

The Illinois pre-selection period for the 2021 SURF Program is now open. Apply by Nov. 8.

Outstanding undergrads interested in a career in biomedical research are encouraged to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). For 10 weeks, students from across the nation become fully immersed in the research and culture of a major medical center. As part of our longstanding partnership, Mayo Clinic has reserved up to seven fellowships for University of Illinois students to participate in the SURF program at Mayo Clinic. Find complete information about the SURF program on Mayo Clinic’s website. Read below to learn how to apply to this special preselection process.


Illinois students in their sophomore or junior year, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, who are seriously considering a biomedical research career as a PhD or MD-PhD, are eligible to apply. Successful applicants must commit to following the SURF standards of professionalism and accountability.

Financial Support

$6,000 will be awarded by the Mayo Clinic and Illinois Alliance to cover living expenses during the 10-week program.

Application Process

  1. Complete the Illinois pre-selection application by Nov. 8. Students will need to upload a personal statement and current transcript or web academic history (see the application page for details).
  2. Letters of recommendation are required from two references. Letters should be sent as PDFs directly to LeaAnn Carson (lcarson@illinois.edu) by Nov. 8.
  3. Applicants will be notified of the committee's decision on Jan. 11. 
  4. Selected students will use the same application materials to complete the Mayo Clinic online application prior to the hard deadline of Feb. 1. Students who were not selected can still apply directly to the Mayo Clinic SURF program for further consideration.

Office Hours

Questions? Speak individually with a program administrator during our virtual office hours. Click on the date to register for Zoom details. 

Can't attend either session? Contact LeaAnn Carson (lcarson@illinois.edu). with questions. 

Important Dates

Illinois Pre-selection Application Deadline - November 8
Illinois Pre-selection Award Notification - January 11
Mayo Clinic Online Application Deadline - February 1
2021 SURF Program - June 1 - July 30, 2021

Read about past Illinois SURF experiences