SMART Program Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program and Eligibility

1. What is the purpose of the SMART Program?

The purpose of the SMART program is to expose students who are underrepresented in higher education to graduate education. The program offers participants an in-depth research experience with a faculty mentor, and workshops that prepare them for graduate school.

2. What groups are considered underrepresented in science?

The SMART program receives federal funding and the federal government defines underrepresented minorities as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indian/Alaska Natives. SMART is open to all applicants, but the program is intended for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students from any race or ethnicity who are disabled, among the first generation in their families to attend college and are Pell grant eligible, or have overcome extraordinary challenges.

3. Is the program open to international students?

No, students must be US citizens or permanent residents. Proof of citizenship or permanent residency is required by Colorado state law in order to receive payments.

4. I am currently a first year undergraduate, but I came to college with enough AP credits that I will finish this year with over 60 hours of credit. Am I eligible to apply to SMART?

Regardless of AP credits, SMART participants must have completed two years of college and be at least 18 years of age. We encourage first year undergraduates to apply the following year. It is important for students to have sufficient coursework in their areas of interest.

5. I’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree but I am pursuing another bachelor’s degree in a STEM field. Am I still eligible?

As long as you are considered an undergraduate degree-seeking student, meaning that you're not just taking courses you need as pre-requisites, but are actually earning a STEM bachelor's degree, then you can apply. Please e-mail if you have further questions about this.

6. I am graduating the December after the SMART program, am I still eligible?

Yes, students graduating in December after the program may participate. Students graduating in August, immediately at the end of the program, or in May, before the program, are ineligible.

7. I understand that in order to be eligible as a first-generation student I will need to submit the FAFSA upon applying. Since the application is due before my family or I can have this year’s taxes completed, would the previous year’s taxes be acceptable?

Yes, please submit your previous year’s FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR).

8. My school is on the quarter system and will not be done with finals until after the second week of June. Can I still participate in the program?

A late start due to your academic schedule will not affect the way in which your application is reviewed; students on the quarter system participate every year. If accepted, your participation will be individually accommodated.

Application Information

9. There are two ways to apply to the SMART Program in 2017. Priority will be given to those who apply through the Leadership Alliance SR-EIP. The deadline for the SR-EIP registration and application is February 1st. More information here.

Alternately, you can apply directly to the SMART Program. The deadline for this method is February 15th, 2017.

10. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): Can I get a copy of the 2017 SMART application in Word format?

Yes, here.

11. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): Should recommenders send their letters to the address provided, or should all materials be submitted in one package? How about transcripts?

Either way is fine. Letters may be mailed directly by the recommender or included with the application. Letters sent with the application must be in sealed envelopes with the recommender’s signature across the back.

Official transcripts are also accepted directly from the institution or in the same packet as the application. If your institution offers the option of electronic submission of transcripts, they may be sent to Those sent with an application must be in a sealed envelope.

12. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): Does the program accept letters of recommendation via email or fax, and if so, where should the email or fax be sent?

Letters are accepted via e-mail as long as they come directly from the recommender. The recommendation form should be scanned and sent with the letter to Letters may not be faxed.

13. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): Do I have to submit two letters, or can I submit just one letter of recommendation?

Two letters of recommendation are required, preferably from faculty members who can assess your academic qualifications and potential. The letters offer personal insight into the academic profile of the student, and they are considered during the selection process.

14. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): Do you accept electronic copies of the application form?

Yes, applications saved as pdf files are accepted. Please make sure to print it, sign it, and then scan it as a pdf. The application must include your signature.

15. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): How will I know if my transcripts and letters of recommendation have been received? Will I be notified when my application is complete?

Emails will be sent notifying students if their application is complete and/or about which documents are missing. However, as always, feel free to email us concerning the status.

16. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): I sent my documents/transcripts a while ago. Shouldn't you have received them by now?

Mail is delivered to the University, where it gets processed then delivered to departments. This can cause delays. Anything sent by February 15 will be accepted, regardless of arrival date.

17. Direct (Non-SR-EIP Application Method): I need a deadline extension. Is this possible?

This is done on a case-by-case basis; please e-mail to request an extension and explain the reason for it. Send the completed application form ASAP so that a file can be started. Then follow up with the remaining documents in a timely manner. You will be notified by e-mail when your application is complete.

Application Completion/Decision Notification

18. When will I be notified of admissions decision?

The application review will begin in March and may extend until mid-April. Faculty members that volunteer to mentor SMART students individually select their students, and this happens on a rolling basis. Once a decision is made, the applicant is contacted by email.

Please note that an acquaintance of yours may receive an offer of admission weeks before you do. This does not mean that your acquaintance is more highly qualified than you; it means that a faculty member reviewing that application responded sooner than a faculty member reading your application. Applications often get passed around. A faculty member may review your application and see a good fit between you and another faculty member. Because faculty members individually select participants, the matches are typically highly successful.

If you have accepted an offer for a placement in another program, please let us know so that we can remove your application from those being circulated.

19. Will you send an email only if I am accepted?

No, you will receive an email if you are offered or denied admission. You might also receive an email indicating that you are on a waiting list, and you will be asked if you wish to remain on this list. There is no rank order placement on the waiting list; as openings arise in one department, only students from that department are considered. Several students are admitted from the wait list each year.

Post-Acceptance Questions

20. Where will SMART participants live?

Students will live in a residence hall on the Boulder campus.

21. How is the travel arranged? Do I make my own flight reservation and then get reimbursed? How will I get from the airport in Denver to the Boulder campus?

The SMART program handles all logistics for participants, and travel arrangements will be made based upon airport and time preference information they provide.

Students will be met by graduate student peer mentors at Denver International Airport and delivered to the campus residence hall in University vans.

22. Will I need a car in Boulder?

No. Boulder has an excellent public transportation system, and you will receive a bus pass that will enable you to ride for free in Boulder and Denver metro area.

If you choose to bring a car, you will have to purchase a campus parking permit for the 10 weeks at your own expense. tudents will live in a residence hall on the Boulder campus.

23. Should I bring or ship a bicycle?

Boulder is a city full of enthusiastic cyclists and bicycle routes! CU-Boulder has a bicycle program that allows students, staff, and faculty to check out bicycles and use them for free. You can check out a bicycle for a week, or rent one for the entire summer for $30. The bicycles include locks, but not helmets. Be sure to bring a helmet!