SHURP Application Frequently Asked Questions

Program Eligibility

The Application Process

The SHURP Summer Experience


Program Eligibility


I’m not a Harvard student.  Am I eligible?

Yes indeed!  Part of our mission is to give students at schools with limited research facilities the exposure to Harvard’s research environment.


I don’t have any research experience.  Am I eligible?

Competitive applicants have at least a summer or semester of wet lab research experience beyond required class lab sections.


Is there a minimum GPA required?

There’s no minimum GPA required, but competitive applicants do have a record of academic achievement, especially in recent upper-level courses.  Their interest in science is, in part, demonstrated by the courses they’ve taken.


I haven’t taken a molecular biology class.  Can I still apply?

What the admissions committee is looking for is evidence that the applicant has enough understanding of contemporary molecular biology (including gene structure and function, transcription and translation, etc.), to be comfortable in the program.  This usually means evidence of coursework that includes information about molecular biology. The name of the course is not important.  


I’ll be graduating from college in June 2013.  Am I eligible?

In order to be eligible, students must still be undergraduates during the summer in which they participate in the program.  Therefore, if you will have received a B.A. or B.S. (or comparable) degree by June of 2013, you would not be eligible for SHURP.  Students who are presently applying to graduate or medical school might find summer opportunities at the school that they decide to attend.


I will still be taking classes or finals when SHURP starts on June 3.  Can I still apply?

We realize that some schools have spring semester schedules that conflict with the calendar that we are required to follow, and we try to accommodate students from these schools as best we can.  In some cases, we can  have students arrive after the program starts and stay for a full ten weeks. You are more than welcome to apply to SHURP, and if you are accepted, we and your home campus program directors and advisors can work to figure out an end-of-semester plan for you.


I’m not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  Can I apply?

Because the program is funded by federal agencies, it is open only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can provide their I-551 card number.


I’m not eligible for SHURP.  Can you suggest any other summer programs?

A number of other programs are listed in the Biomedical Science Careers Program New England Resource Directory and on the Pathways to Science page.  The Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) program provides a list of summer programs at Harvard.


The Application Process


SHURP is affiliated with the Leadership Alliance (LA).  Should I use your application or theirs? 

We suggest applying both ways, directly to us and also through the LA.  The applications are somewhat different and having all the information is helpful to our admissions committee. 


What’s the most important part of the application?

All parts of the application are important.  The SHURP admissions committee is looking for:

  • a strong statement explaining your goals, research interest and experience and why you want to participate in SHURP,
  • strong letters of recommendation that say something about your work in the lab and in the classroom, and
  • a demonstrated commitment to scientific research, as shown by coursework, research, and recommendations


How long should my personal statement be?

There's no specific page limit for the personal statement.  Most applicants submit a page or two, long enough to describe what kind of work they've done and why they're interested in the program. 


I want to work with a specific faculty member.  Should I mention that in my essay?

It's not necessary to indicate the specific faculty members you’re interested in working with, but it can be helpful to mention research areas that you are interested in and why you are interested in them.  Sometimes, mentioning faculty as examples of researchers in areas of interest is useful. 

       We do not make decisions about the research placement of SHURP students until after they have been accepted into the program and have indicated their intention to participate.  Then, we work closely with students and faculty on lab placements that will provide a good learning environment for the summer.

       While it’s fine to discuss what you’d like to do or list names of faculty in your application, please do not contact them on your own.


When will I hear about admissions decisions?

The admissions committee reviews all complete applications after the deadline, February 1, 2013, and is not able to consider applications on a rolling basis.  The committee makes decisions by late February.  If we’ve received your complete application by the deadline, we will inform you of your admissions status by email at the end of February or the beginning of March.


Can I submit an application after the deadline?

The admissions committee cannot review applications postmarked after the deadline of February 10. 


The SHURP Summer Experience


I’m a pre-med student.  Will there be an opportunity for me to study for the MCAT while participating in SHURP?

SHURP is geared to students pursuing research, rather than clinical, careers.  SHURP is a full-time program and participants function more like research scientists, rather than hourly employees, and enjoy spending lot of time spent in lab.  We do not encourage students to take MCAT courses while participating in SHURP.


How much time do students spend in the lab?  What other sorts of things do they do during the summer?

SHURP is a full-time program and participants function more like research scientists, rather than hourly employees.  This could mean some time in the lab on evenings and weekends in order for a student to accomplish his or her own goals.  SHURP students usually participate in their own lab’s group meetings. Students also participate in twice-weekly program sessions to discuss career development and their own research, along with some other group activities.


Do SHURP students attend the Leadership Alliance symposium?

In previous years, many SHURP groups have attended.  It is possible that the 2013 SHURP group will also attend, but the final decision depends on funding information that we will receive in late spring.


How are SHURP students funded during the summer, and what does the funding cover?

SHURP students are funded by federal grants. They receive a weekly stipend, housing, travel to and from the program, emergency and accident health insurance (if needed), and a few meals every week.

Where do SHURP students live?  Is there a meal plan?

All SHURP students live in Vanderbilt Hall, the Harvard Medical School dorm, which has one full kitchen for every 20 rooms.  There is no meal plan available, but there are plenty of grocery stores and dining options in close vicinity to the dorm.  Students often have lunch with their lab members.  Meals are provided at the twice-weekly program discussion sessions, as well as at some special events during the summer. 


Still have questions?  Send us an email or give us a call at 617-432-4980.


Still have questions?

Please send us an email or give us a call at 617-432-4980.



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