Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Grant


About the URCA Grant

General Information

The Office of Undergraduate Education encourages undergraduate students conducting independent research projects or creative activities to apply for funding to support these efforts. The funding for Undergraduate Research and Creative Actvities (URCA) grants comes from university, federal, and private sources and is intended to cover a project’s expenses, including research-related domestic travel.

To qualify for an URCA grant, you must meet the general requirements described below and submit a completed proposal online by the application deadline. The maximum award is $750 per project. If you receive an URCA grant, you will be expected to present your work at the Undergraduate Research Colloquium in May. If you are unavailable during the event or do not submit an entry for the Colloquium, we require a report on the progress and outcomes of your research of no less than 10 pages.

For examples of past projects, check out the videos below!


To be eligible for the URCA grant, you must:

  • Be a UCSB undergraduate in good academic standing and remain so throughout the funding period.
  • Be currently engaged in a research or creative project, or planning to initiate one. Grants cannot be awarded retroactively for completed projects.
  • Identify a faculty member who is willing to supervise your project, and obtain a letter of support from this possible mentor. The letter should be submitted as a part of your grant application. Your faculty mentor must be a member of the Academic Senate. (You can view the membership list here.)

All awards are available to those students who meet the criteria above, regardless of class standing, major, or college affiliation.

Video Examples of Past Projects

Application Deadline

The deadline for submission of 2018-2019 URCA grant applications is Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 11:59pm via the online entry form.

URCA Project Grant Proposal Workshops

These workshops cover tips and information relevant to students seeking an URCA grant, including how to prepare a strong proposal, budget preparation, and what the reviewers expect from a solid proposal. It is not necessary to attend more than one workshop.

General Workshop Dates:
Workshops for the 2019-2020 grant will take place on:

  • Wednesday, September 25, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Thursday, September 26, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Wednesday, October 2, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Thursday, October 3, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Wednesday, October 9, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Thursday, October 10, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Wednesday, October 16, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Thursday, October 17, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Wednesday, October 23, 11am - 12pm CITRAL
  • Thursday, October 24, 11am - 12pm CITRAL

Please contact our office if you are unable to attend or would like a separate workshop for your class or group. 

Transfer Student Workshop Dates:


Proposal Information

There are five components to an URCA grant proposal: an online data form, an abstract, a project plan, a budget form, and a mentor’s letter of support. The online data form can be accessed and submitted via the online application system. Detailed instructions regarding the remaining four components can be found by clicking the links below.

All proposal components including the mentor’s letter of support must be submitted by the deadline posted. Late submissions will NOT be considered.

Applicants should create their application profiles before the deadline so their mentor will receive the individualized upload link for the letter of support with sufficient time to submit. All application components can be edited an unlimited number of times before 11:59pm on the application deadline. Please direct any questions to the URCA Coordinator, urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu.


Your abstract should be a brief and clearly-written synopsis of your research or creative project. It should not exceed 100 words and must contain the following elements:

  • A brief explanation of the project’s purpose
  • A brief statement explaining what you will do in your project
  • The major conclusions you hope to derive from your project
  • A concise statement of what you hope to gain from your project

Do not include any details about your research design or methods.

Submitting the Abstract

Please submit your abstract via the online application system.

Project Plan

The project plan is a brief narrative, not to exceed two pages (single or double-spaced with standard margins, font size no smaller than 11 points and no images or formulae). References are not required, but if included they should remain within the two-page limit. The narrative must include responses to the following questions:

  • Specific Aims: What do you intend to do? List the overall objectives of your project and describe, concisely and realistically, what your project is intended to accomplish, including any hypotheses to be tested. Scripts for film or dramatic projects are not appropriate substitutes for a project plan.
  • Research Design and Methods: Describe the research design and procedures that you will use. By what means will your data be collected, analyzed, and interpreted? Provide a timetable for the project. If your project involves human subjects, please note that you have complied with University guidelines for the use of human subjects. [These guidelines are available from the Office of Research website. Questions should be directed to The Human Subjects Coordinator, Office of Research, warren@research.ucsb.edu. Please do not submit the Human Subjects Committee application with this proposal.]
  • Background and Significance: Relate your project’s specific aims to the broader goals of your undergraduate education and major field of study. Why is an URCA grant award significant to you? What courses or opportunities have prepared you to undertake this project?
  • Timeline: Indicate duration of research or creative activity. How long will you be doing this project? 

Submitting the Project Plan

Please submit your project plan via the online application system.


Using the URCA Budget form, list all costs associated with the project. Funding is provided for general supplies, other costs, and domestic travel. Funding will not be provided for international travel or conference related fees or travel.

  • General supplies, capped at $155 per project, include such items as computing paper/ink (capped at $40), binding of final report (capped at $35), Undergraduate Research Colloquium poster development (capped at $50), and general office supplies and photocopying charges (capped at $30).
  • Other costs include laboratory supplies, rental of equipment, payment to subjects, payment for services, and large duplication costs for surveys and questionnaires. Please note the following restrictions and considerations:
    • The purchase of equipment (computers, software, printers, cameras, tape recorders, etc) is not allowed.
    • Requests for salary are prohibited.
    • URCA funding restrictions do not allow for payment of services via payroll.
    • If you are requesting payment to subjects, be sure you have adhered to university policies on the use of human subjects as explained earlier in the proposal instructions.
    • As an incentive for surveys or experiments with a large number of human subjects, a drawing is permitted. The value of the prize awarded may not exceed 10% of the total grant funding. For example, a project awarded a $750 grant can use a prize with a maximum value of $75.
    • If your project requires transcribers, be sure to use a professional service and obtain a receipt. Undergrads and graduate students cannot be paid via payroll.
  • Domestic travel is considered anything outside the local commuting area (Santa Barbara/Goleta/Carpinteria communities). All travel must be in accordance with university policy in order to be eligible for reimbursement. Prior to submitting your proposal, please contact the Financial Officer in your mentor’s department to determine the current mileage reimbursement rates and other travel-related guidelines.

Submitting the Budget

Please submit your budget via the online application system.

Mentor's Letter

A letter of support is required from your faculty mentor. Please give your mentor the Mentor’s Letter of Support Instruction Form along with a copy of your abstract, project plan, and budget. It is your responsibility to ensure the submission of this letter by the deadline. Please allow the mentor sufficient time to review your plan prior to the submission deadline. 

Mentor Guidelines

A mentor must be a member of the Academic Senate (view the membership list here).

Graduate students, part-time lecturers, and staff are not eligible to serve as project mentors. If you have questions about mentor eligibility, please consult with the URCA Coordinator for clarification, urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu

Submitting the Mentor’s Letter

The mentor’s letter of support should be written on department letterhead and be submitted as a PDF to the online URCA Grant System. Your mentor will receive an e-mail with instructions when you submit your proposal application along with your mentor's e-mail address. Please create your application profile BEFORE the deadline so your mentor will receive your individualized upload link with sufficient time to submit. (You may edit your application until the deadline.)

Proposal Application

Applications for the 2018-2019 grant will open in Fall 2018 and will be due November 4, 2018.

Below are all the materials you'll need to complete the URCA grant proposal (explained in detail in the Proposal Instructions section):

Download the Budget and Mentor Letter of Support forms here

  1. Apply online.
  2. Download the budget form, and submit it as part of the online application.
  3. Download the mentor's letter of support form, and give it to your potential mentor.

Sample Budgets

View a social science oriented sample: MS Word document

View a humanities & fine arts oriented sample: MS Word document

View a science oriented sample: MS Word document

View a sample budget that shows how to document travel costs: MS Word document

Proposal Forms

URCA Grant Budget Form: Download MS Word document

-Your budget must be in WORD format when uploaded to the URCA application system

URCA Mentor Letter of Support Instruction Form: Download MS Word document

-Your Mentor's letter must be a PDF on department letterhead when uploaded to the URCA application system

Mini Grant for Conferences

Limited funding is available for any previous or current FRAP or URCA grant participants presenting research at a non-UCSB conference. Students can be reimbursed up to $250. Please contact us for more information.

Please note: URCA Mini Grants are considered a financial resource for financial aid purposes. The total amount of financial aid that you may receive is determined by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS) and is based on federal and state policy. If OFAS finds that you have received the full amount of aid for which you are eligible, your URCA  Mini Grant may lead to a reduction in certain types of aid. If you are unsure about whether you have received the full amount of aid for which you are eligible, or to inquire about how receiving an URCA Mini Grant may impact your existing financial aid, please contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at (805) 893-2432.

Hanson Family Scholars Fund - Conference Grant

The Hanson Family Scholars Fund supports outstanding undergraduate students working on interdisciplinary areas of research with faculty, who were/are participants in the Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (URCA) program through the Office of Undergraduate Education.

The award will fund travel and conference attendance for students participating in undergraduate research with a faculty member who wish to present their research to an audience outside of UCSB.


  • Open to students from all majors
  • Currently enrolled student, taking upper division coursework
  • Must be in good academic standing, with a minimum GPA of 3.3
  • Participating in undergraduate research with faculty at UCSB
  • Participant of URCA during current academic year


To apply, please fill out this online application form. Please contact the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator at urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu with any questions.