About the Program and Eligibility

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.

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 underserved 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.

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.

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?

Yes, depending on the lab we welcome students who have completed at least their freshman year to apply.

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 prerequisites, but are actually earning a STEM bachelor's degree, then you can apply. Please e-mail smart@colorado.edu if you have further questions about this.

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.

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

There is only one way to apply to the SMART Program: through the Leadership Alliance SR-EIP. The deadline for the SR-EIP registration and application is February 1st.

Application Completion/Decision Notification

When will I be notified of an admissions decision?

The application review will begin in February and will extend through March. 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.

Will you send an email only if I am accepted?

Yes. Ongoing status for all applications can be viewed through your SR-EIP portal.

Post-Acceptance Questions

Where will SMART participants live?

You will be living on the CU Boulder campus in a residence hall, and each of you will be assigned to a room. You will be provided with a bed, closet space, drawers, a study desk, bookshelf, kitchenette with fridge, fan and lamp. Bedding (towels, linens, blanket and pillow) and towels are provided for the duration of the program.  Laundry facilities are located in the building.

Your meals will be served at a premium dining hall on the CU campus, offering 3 meals every day. Vegetarian and vegan selections are available at every meal, and a salad bar is always available for lunch and dinner. All prepared foods are labeled so that diners can avoid restricted ingredients. If you have severe dining restrictions or allergies, please let us know BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL.

The residence hall is centrally located on campus. It is within walking distance to “the Hill,” an area of Boulder with restaurants, coffeehouses and boutiques that cater to the student population. The residence hall is also within walking distance or a short bus ride to downtown Boulder. Local and regional (to Denver) bus lines run within a block of most areas of the campus, and your student bus pass allows free access.

Where will we eat?

SMART students will eat at the award-winning Center for Community Dining Center on campus. This dining hall is located within the C4C building and offers an exciting fusion of community and cultural dining experiences. It features 8 micro restaurants, a build-your-own salad bar and a dessert station for a variety of globally inspired cuisine.

Dining hours during the summer are as follows, but may be subject to change:

  • Mon - Fri: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Sat & Sun: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

View current C4C menus here.

Conference and Dining Services will provide SMART interns with a keycard to access on-campus housing. This card is also used to swipe for meals at C4C. Interns doing research in labs on East Campus may choose to swipe for meals at the SEEC Cafe, located at Research Park in the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community (SEEC) building. This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily.While the variety of choices is more limited than at C4C, SMART students may find the location more convenient, as they won't have to travel back to Main Campus for meals.

Dining hours during the summer are as follows, but may be subject to change:

  • Mon - Fri: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Sat & Sun: Closed.

View current SEEC Cafe menus here.

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 will purchase airline tickets for students living outside of Colorado. Once you accept our offer, we connect you to make arrangements. (Accommodations will be made for students on the quarter system). 

Out-of-state students who plan to drive to Boulder will be reimbursed for the equivalent cost of a round trip airline ticket. Students who drive are responsible for purchasing a campus parking permit. If you plan to drive to Boulder, please let us know your expected arrival time. If you need directions to the university, please contact us. We ask that all SMART interns check into the residence hall the evening of of the day before the program begins.  

We will pick student up from the airport and require all flights selected arrive no later than 3:30 pm the Sunday before the program begins. 

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 the Boulder and Denver metro area. You can also rent a bicycle for a week, or for the entire summer; campus and Boulder are very easy to navigate by bicycle, and with parking restrictions and prices, it's far more efficient as well. Bike paths are plentiful. Just know that rental bicycles come with locks, but not helmets. Be sure to bring a helmet!

If you choose to bring a car, you will have to purchase a campus parking permit for the 10 weeks at your own expense.

What is Boulder like?

The City of Boulder, home to about 100,000 residents, lies in a valley against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  The average summer temperature reaches 80 to 90 degrees during the day, but it tends to cool off most nights. It can get as hot as 100 degrees, but the low humidity makes it bearable. If you are coming from a humid climate, you may need to drink lots of water as you get used to the arid climate.

Boulder’s elevation is 5,430 feet above sea level. Those of you coming from sea level may feel tired during your first few days here as you adapt to the high altitude.  Our advice is to take it easy, drink water, and avoid alcohol. Because of the high altitude, the sunshine can also be very intense.  Even if you’re not prone to sunburn, you may need to use sunscreen in Colorado.

The nearest big city is Denver, which is approximately 30 miles from Boulder. The art museum, natural science museum, zoo, and the Colorado Rockies baseball stadium are easily accessible by bus.


What are the academic expectations?

The SMART program introduces undergraduates to research and graduate education. Each of you will be working in a lab under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and alongside graduate and other undergraduate students.  You are expected to work full-time while you’re here, and you may not participate in any other academic or work-related activity, such as attending classes or holding a part-time job. While working in the lab, we ask that you respect lab member and your faculty mentor and use the time wisely. Using cell phones, text messaging services and online social media sites is strongly discouraged, if not forbidden in the lab!

Student schedules vary, and it will be up to you and your mentor to determine when you need to be in the lab or elsewhere. While most students follow a regular workday schedule, others must plan around the nature of the research. Students engaged in field work will likely have different schedules.

In addition to your research, you will be required to actively participate in weekly workshops throughout the summer. Workshops will focus on scientific writing, oral and poster presentations, GRE preparation, and the application process for graduate school. There will also be one evening group meeting each week for both graduate student staff and students.

You will be registered for 1 hour of independent study credit, and will earn a letter grade for your efforts.  Your faculty mentor will assign your grade.  At the end of the summer, your credit and letter grade will be sent to your home institution.

Accepted students are also required to comply to the terms of the Statement of Understanding:

This STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING lists the requirements and provisions of the 2022 SMART program. Please read carefully. The primary purpose of participating in the SMART program is to gain advanced research, laboratory, and technical writing experience. The SMART program centers on the student-faculty mentor relationship, in which each student is individually guided in conducting research. The SMART Program will be held in-person this year, unless public health regulations change in response to COVID or other emergencies. The University of Colorado reserves the right to cancel the program or change to a remote format due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. The participant will devote full time to the SMART program. He/she will not take part in any other academic or work-related activity, such as attending classes or holding a part-time job during the SMART program. There is no vacation time allowed. The participant will complete a research project proposal and a thesis paper during the course of the program. The participant will present her/his research project at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium. Students who fail to complete the program forfeit the final stipend payment. The participant will take part in the academic components of the program, including workshops in technical writing and communication skills, evening seminars, and group meetings. The SMART program provides the interns with tuition for CU credit, housing on campus for the duration of the program, and a monthly stipend. Because all SMART participants are enrolled for credit at the University of Colorado Boulder for the 10-week summer term, they must comply with the COVID vaccination requirements and Campus Public Health Measures. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program. I hereby certify that I have reviewed this Statement of Understanding and will adhere to the SMART program’s requirements and provisions, campus COVID vaccination requirements, and the university's campus public health measures. I understand that SMART reserves the option of dismissing from the program any student who does not follow the requirements described above. Students who are dismissed forfeit all remaining SMART financial support.

Is there a program orientation?

There will be a mandatory program orientation held the first morning of the program. You will be informed of the time and location before you arrive. Orientation will provide an overview of the program and an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

What else?

Your CU student ID (aka “BuffOne Card”) will allow you access to libraries, computer labs, student health services, and the recreation center on campus. Your BuffOne Card will also allow you to ride the city and regional (to Denver) buses for free.

Boulder offers many recreational opportunities. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, the recreation center has camping and other equipment that you can rent for a small fee. The rec center also has swimming pools, racquetball and squash courts, weight rooms, saunas, and an ice rink--and most equipment (such as racquets and balls) can be checked out at no cost.

What about all of my other questions?

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, please don't hesitate to contact us. We want you to be as prepared as possible for the summer ahead. You always email us at smart@colorado.edu.  

See you soon!

Contact Mr. Touri White, Assistant Director CDI

Contact Dr. Christina Alston, Director CDI