The Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training (SMART) program is intended for undergraduate students who are interested in preparing for graduate degrees in science, math and engineering. SMART offers students the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and participate in workshops designed to strengthen scientific writing and oral presentation skills.

SMART interns earn upper-division undergraduate credit in independent study, and receive a stipend, room and board, and travel expenses.

SMART Academic Areas

Interns may conduct research in 18 academic areas. These areas include:

You may use the links to learn more about the departments, faculty, and research areas.

*Students with an interest in the Neuroscience program at CU-Boulder are advised to choose "Life Sciences" as their primary research field when submitting an application through the Leadership Alliance SR-EIP website. CU-Boulder is not an option when applying to any of the Psychology disciplines on the SR-EIP website. We do read applications carefully, however, and we will be sure to match yours specifically to your desired field when it is under review.

Program Plan and Calendar

The SMART program focuses on the development of research skills and the faculty mentor/student relationship. During the first week, interns write a research project proposal. In the next eight weeks they carry out the proposed project. In the final week they present their research results in oral and written form. Depending on the academic area, the conduct of research may include laboratory experimentation, outdoor field work, and data analysis. Students work either as part of a research team or independently.

Other activities in the SMART program prepare SMART interns for graduate studies. These include:

  • Workshops devoted to technical writing and oral presentation skills
  • Workshops on selecting graduate programs and the application process for graduate school
  • GRE preparation

2020 Program CalendarInterns take the CU Challenge Course the first week

Week 1

  • Program orientation
  • Introduction to faculty mentors and research environment
  • Beginning of research project

Weeks 2 to 9

  • Continuing work on research projects with faculty mentors
  • Workshops on technical writing, oral presentation skills, and the selection/application process for graduate school
  • Cultural and outdoor activities

Week 10

  • Final preparation for oral and written presentations of projects
  • SMART Research Symposium
  • SMART Poster Session

Faculty Mentors

The CU-Boulder faculty members serve as mentors for the SMART interns' research projects. Mentors, who volunteer their time, are chosen for their excellence in research and scholarly work and their commitment to undergraduate research. The mentors themselves review applications and select SMART interns.

Most interns take part in the on-going research programs of their mentors. SMART students receive information about their mentor and his or her research when they are accepted into the program.

Eligibility Requirements

Students Must:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Be members of racial/ethnic groups severely underrepresented in science, math, and engineering (African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native/ Native Pacific Islander), or be first-generation college students who are economically disadvantaged
  • Have completed their second year of undergraduate study (the equivalent of 60 semester credit hours) by June of the year during which they apply
  • Not earn a BA/BS before December of the year they participate

Selection Process

SMART program staff and faculty mentors review applications and make final selection. Selection criteria include:

Academic qualifications of the applicant:

  • Evidence of academic ability/improvement at undergraduate institution
  • Evidence of sufficient courses in the involved subject areas
  • Indication of ability to succeed in a graduate intern program

Statement of interest:

  • Level of interest indicated in statement. Students should submit a statement describing the area in which they are interested in conducting research. Faculty from several disciplines may review the applications for consideration. The proposal may be as broad or as specific as the applicant wishes.
  • Written communication skills

Letters of reference:

  • Applicant's ability to succeed in the program, academically and socially
  • Applicant's potential for graduate level studies and research
  • Applicant's maturity, motivation and ability to work independently

Financial Support

The SMART Program pays program costs. Interns receive:

  • Tuition for upper-division undergraduate credit in independent study at the University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Room and board for the 10-week program
  • Transportation to and from Boulder, Colorado
  • A stipend of $5,000 to be paid in 3 monthly increments of $1,666.67

Living arrangements: Interns live together in University of Colorado housing arranged by program staff. Meals are provided each day.

Application Deadline and Submission Information

For the 2021 SMART Program, applicants must apply through the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP).  SMART students will be selected by CU faculty from the pool of accepted applicants to the Leadership Alliance SR-EIP. Please go to the Leadership Alliance SR-EIP website for more information on how to register and apply. The application deadline is February 1, 2021.

For more information, please contact the SMART office at the University of Colorado at Boulder:

303-735-2944 (fax)

Statement of Understanding

This statement lists the requirements and provisions of the 2021 SMART program. All participating SMART students are asked to agree to the terms below when they complete their Acceptance Form. Below is a copy of these terms for your reference. Violation of these terms constitutes grounds for dismissal from the 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 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 taking classes unrelated to the SMART research project (including online 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 and during the SMART Poster Symposium.

Students who fail to complete the program forfeit the final stipend payment.

All SMART interns will live in the housing arranged by SMART program staff and follow both the established and the SMART program residence hall rules.

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 participant may elect to participate in the recreational and cultural activities offered during the program. These activities may include, but not be limited to, whitewater rafting, mountain hiking and cultural events in Boulder and Denver. Transportation to and from most activities will be provided in University rental vehicles or buses driven by SMART staff members.

The SMART program provides the interns with tuition and fees for CU credit, room and board, transportation to and from Boulder and the Leadership Alliance Symposium, and a monthly stipend.

Students will participate in a walk-through of their dormitory at the beginning and end of the program with CU Housing staff. Students will be financially responsible for any and all damage done to CU property. There will also be a lock change fee for lost or unreturned keys.

I hereby certify that I have reviewed this Statement of Understanding and will adhere to the SMART program’s requirements and provisions. 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 and are required to leave the residence hall.