Viterbi Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)

Frequently Asked Questions


Are graduating seniors eligible for the SURE program?

The SURE program is only open to students who are current undergraduates. Rising seniors are eligible to apply only if still have at least one semester of undergraduate coursework remaining after they complete the SURE program. Seniors who have completed their undergraduate coursework and received their Bachelor's degree by the time the SURE program begins in the summer are not eligible to apply.

Are international students eligible for the SURE program?

USC Viterbi SURE program participants must be US Citizens, Permanent Residents, or DACA recipients who are currently residing in the US.  For international students, please visit the SURE for International Students website 

Do I need to have prior research experience to be eligible for the SURE program?

Not necessarily, as it depends on the nature of the research project and the types of pre-requisite skillsets suggested by the faculty / PI. We encourage you to look through the list of available SURE research projects to review those requirements.  

Application & Selection Process

Am I guaranteed a research position if I complete the application?

No. SURE is a competitive application process, so completing the the application does not guarantee that you will be offered a position.

Can I apply for a research position in an engineering field that is different from my current major?

Yes! You are welcome to apply to any project(s) that match your interests and qualifications.

How are students assigned to research labs for the SURE program?

In the application, students will be asked to rank their top 3 research labs. Based on your rankings, we will forward your application to be reviewed by faculty members and PhD students from those labs. The faculty/PI makes the final decision about who is selected for their research lab. If you are placed in a lab, then you are offered a position in the SURE program. 

Is there a benefit to submitting my application early, or can I wait until the deadline?

Your application will not be reviewed until after the application deadline, so it is fine if you wait until the deadline to submit.

Program Details

What will I be doing during the SURE program?

SURE fellows will spend the majority of their time working on a research project under the guidance of faculty mentors and PhD students. Fellows will also participate in weekly professional development workshops (Lunch & Learn series) and go on occasional site visits of research and industry facilities. Additionally, SURE fellows will have the opportunity to explore Los Angeles on the weekends through planned social outings. The program will culminate with an end-of-summer research symposium, where all SURE fellows will design a poster presentation to showcase their research project to the USC community. 

What is the time commitment for the SURE program?

SURE is an 8-week summer residential program. SURE fellows are required to work full-time (40 hours/week) in their assigned research labs for the entire 8 weeks of the program. In addition, SURE fellows are required to attend weekly professional development workshops and an end-of-program poster presentation session. Fellows are also invited to participate in weekend social activities. 

How will travel be arranged to and from Los Angeles?

SURE fellows who live outside of Southern California will receive further instructions on how to book airfare through the USC travel portal. Students can also opt to drive to USC and receive mileage reimbursement at the current IRS rate, but only if the cost of mileage does not exceed the cost of a round-trip flight from your nearest airport to LAX.

I live in the Los Angeles area. Can I live at home at commute to campus?

This is discouraged, since SURE is designed to be a residential program. On-campus housing is an integral part of the program component so that SURE fellows can build meaningful connections and community with their cohorts. However, exceptions can be made based on personal or family circumstances. 

Will I have roommates? Can I select them?

Yes, most SURE fellows will have 1 roommate. USC summer housing will be suite style, with 4 people per suite (2 people per room). If you are selected for the SURE program, you will be asked to complete a housing survey. We will do our best to pair roommates according to preferences, but this is not guaranteed. Single-room accommodations can be made for students with special needs. 

More questions? Email us at

Published on October 19th, 2022

Last updated on June 25th, 2024