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Dornsife, WiSE Researcher, Student Application Guidelines


The WiSE Undergraduate Research Experience was established to familiarize students with laboratory research and to link them with a mentor early on.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • To participate as WiSE Researchers, students must have earned at least 16 units at the college level with a GPA of at least a 3.3 (although it is expected that successful applicants will frequently have a GPA of 3.5 or higher). Students with GPAs between 3.0 and 3.3 will be considered if the faculty mentor makes a compelling case in their support letter. Transfer units recognized by the University may be counted towards the minimum unit requirement; AP credits cannot.
  • The faculty sponsors of WiSE Researchers must have a primary appointment in a WiSE-eligible Department. In the event that the advisor has only a secondary or courtesy appointment in WiSE-eligible department, co-advisement is permissible. In a co-advising circumstance, one of the faculty sponsors must have a primary appointment in a WiSE-eligible department and both advisors must submit separate statements of support; both statements must outline how the proposed co-advising arrangement will work.
  • Students must also have participated in research sponsored by the faculty member since at least the beginning of the semester in which they receive the grant, except in the summer.
  • Students who have already received a bachelor’s degree are not eligible.

Application Process:

Applications must be completed and submitted via the online system of the WiSE website. The deadline for application submission is April 1. In the event that these dates fall upon a weekend or a University Holiday the deadline will move to the first workday following the posted date. Students must collaborate with their faculty sponsors in preparing their applications. A completed application must contain:

  • Personal Statement:
  • Statements must be typed, double spaced in 12-point font and no longer than 3 pages. Label each page with your name. Before submission, your statement must be reviewed by your faculty mentor. Upload as MS Word document or pdf to the online application system. In the statement: (1)Briefly describe the project and its significance, (2) Explain your motivation for participating in research and how this project will enhance your education and career plans, (3) Explain how your research will increase the representation of women in science, (4) Provide a statement committing to attending one event per month during the Fall and Spring semesters and one event per week during the Summer term as part of the WiSE Programming Series.
  • Recommendation from the faculty mentor
  • Unofficial transcript (or STARS report). (Submitted as either a pdf or Word Document.)
  • Faculty mentor must send an e-mail message to stating that he or she has reviewed the student’s application and personal statement, read the section “Faculty Application Guidelines”, and agrees to serve as a faculty mentor under these terms if an award is made.

Students who are prior participants of the WiSE Undergraduate Research Experience may apply for continued WiSE support and are asked to provide two additional documents:

  • A brief statement (no more than 500 words) describing the research results that have been obtained or have contributed to while being supported by the WiSE Fellowship. The Progress Report should summarize your research results to date and a brief explanation of why further funding would be beneficial.
  • A statement from the faculty advisor attesting that they are satisfied with the progress the student has made while being supported by the WiSE Fellowship.

Selection Process and Criteria:

  • The WiSE USC Dornsife Committee is composed of faculty from across the USC Dornsife College.  Key considerations of Researchers include the student’s potential to conduct outstanding research, the student’s understanding of the project and its goals, the extent of direct involvement of the student in the project, the contribution of the experience to the student’s education, and the faculty member’s plans for direction and mentorship. Previous student recipients are welcome to re-apply for additional funding, but in the interest of facilitating entry into research, preference is given to new applicants if other factors are equivalent. Equal consideration will be given to faculty who have or have not previously sponsored student recipients.

Responsibilities of Student Participants:

  • Researchers are expected to complete about 300 hours of work (or the equivalent of 8 weeks of full-time work) during the summer semester. While the majority of Researcher Awards will be made for the summer semester, alternatives arrangements can be made for students to conduct research during the Fall or Spring terms when disciplinary demands intercede. These situations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Student Researchers must confer regularly with their faculty sponsors and, upon the sponsor’s recommendation, participate in safety training, meetings, seminars, journal clubs, discussion groups, and other scholarly activities of the host laboratory, department or research group. At the end of the Fellowship period, students must, under the guidance of their faculty mentor, prepare and submit a science poster. For more information, Click Here. Students must also present the results of their research at the Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly & Creative Work held in April each year.

Finding a Sponsor and Research Topic:

  • The best sources of information about the research areas of the science faculty are their departmental or laboratory web pages. Visit the USC Dornsife website to find links to specific science departments. Students who have developed a relationship with a science faculty member, through classes or advising sessions should contact those professors. Students are responsible for finding an eligible mentor that will help them with the application process and will provide a strong recommendation. Eligibility requirements for faculty sponsors are outlined in the “Faculty Application Guidelines. The faculty sponsor’s responsibility is to facilitate the student’s exposure to various aspects of the research process and to meet regularly with the student providing guidance and feedback on their progress.


  • WiSE Researchers will receive a $3,000 grant during the semester in which they conduct their research, $500 during each of the Fall and Spring Semesters for participation in the WiSE Research Programming Series, and $500 in advisor for support). Receipt of a WiSE Undergraduate Research Experience Researcher subsidy should not negatively impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid. As with any income, however, the award will be considered as taxable income by federal and state agencies. For questions regarding financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office at 213-740-1111. Please see your own tax advisor for information about reporting Fellowship income and paying income taxes.
  • Students may not receive additional funding, fellowships or grants to complete research during the semester in which they receive a WiSE Undergraduate Research Grant. If a student is selected to receive other grants, such as Viterbi Research Grants, Rose Hills Awards, Provost’s Fellowships, or Departmental Grants, the student will be asked to choose one award. During the summer semester, WiSE will coordinate with recipients of the Rose Hills Awards by topping off this award with an additional $500 to the student and $500 for research related expenses to the faculty mentor.

Alternative Funding for Research Groups:

  • WiSE Undergraduate Research Fellowships are intended to support individual pairings of student researchers with faculty sponsors. If faculty members have more than one eligible candidate undertaking research in the laboratory, only one should apply for support through the WiSE program. Please see the University’s Undergraduate Research Program to obtain funding for groups of students.


  • For more information please contact the WiSE Program Office at 213-740-0996 or