curf - Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships



Frequently Asked Questions


PPC Undergraduate Summer Research Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Which students are eligible?

All undergraduate freshmen, sophomore, and juniors enrolled at any school in any discipline at Penn are eligible. International students must verify with Penn’s Office of International Programs that the project on which they work qualifies as education-related employment under their visa.

What is the timing?

Applications are due by March 14th, 2012. Decisions will be made and students notified by early April, 2012.

All projects take place in the summer and are expected to extend for 12 weeks or longer if you choose to continue the project into the Fall Semester. Students and faculty mentors negotiate the precise logistics between themselves, taking into account the needs of the project. Students are also required to attend several meetings at the Positive Psychology Center during the summer, and during the Fall Semester if the project is extended (see program description and “What else is expected?” below).

How are students paid?

Disbursement of funds is handled by each faculty mentor’s business administrator (BA). The student’s $4,000 stipend is intended for each student’s expenses and will be paid as a monthly paycheck. The $1,000 available for research costs is also disbursed by the faculty mentor’s BA, and all expenses must be cleared with the business office ahead of time. Once a student is selected for the program, questions about stipend payments and research funding disbursement should be directed to the faculty mentor’s BA.

Note: The payroll portion of the stipends will be subject to federal, state and city withholding taxes. Most undergraduates will be able to receive the federal wage tax portion back as a tax refund after filing the appropriate tax returns the following spring.

Can students enroll in a Penn course during their summer research experience?

The program does not prevent a student from enrolling in a maximum of 1 CU at Penn during their summer research experience. However, individual faculty mentors, or the needs of certain projects may make enrolling in a summer course impossible. Students working on faculty projects and considering enrolling in a summer course should request permission from their faculty mentor. Students working on independent projects and considering enrolling in a summer course should consult their faculty mentors and use their best judgment.

What about housing for the summer?

Students will need to arrange housing that meets their needs. One of the high-rise residence halls will be open for the 12 weeks of the two Penn summer sessions. Their costs tend to be much higher than renting a furnished room or a furnished sublet near campus and can be much less flexible. Penn’s Office of Off-Campus Housing has extensive and clear web information that can demystify the process of apartment/room/sublet renting to make it a safe, affordable, and positive option for students.

What else is expected?

Before funds are disbursed, students are required to work with their faculty mentor to complete and submit to CURF our Research Experience Checklist and Waiver of Liability.

Since students will be considered full-time employees of Penn during their 12 week Positive Studies experience, they may not have any other employment at Penn during these 12 weeks. If a student’s work is on a faculty member’s project, the student may work out specific dates with the faculty mentor, but the work must occur during the summer of 2012. Work on independent student projects must also occur during the summer of 2012.

In addition to their research project, participants selected for this program will be expected to attend 3 meetings during the summer (one at the beginning of June, one at the end of July, and one at the end of August or beginning of September) lasting about 2 hours each. Students will be asked to discuss and briefly present their research projects to their peers at some of these meetings. Meetings will take place at the Positive Psychology Center at 3701 Market Street, second floor conference room. A TBD amount of meetings will be held for students who continue on with their projects into the Fall Semester.

On January 9th, 2013, participants will be required to turn in a paper detailing the outcome of their research project (suggested paper length will vary depending on the discipline of the research), as well as a 500 word abstract describing the project’s purpose, methods, and results in brief. A panel of Positive Psychology faculty and staff will then award a prize of $1,000 to the student who conducted the best project.

Does My Project Fit with Positive Psychology?

This is not something that can be directly answered until your proposal is reviewed by the application committee at the Positive Psychology Center. Please keep in mind however that students from all areas of study are encouraged to apply and that the projects themselves need not be within the field of Psychology. Refer to the Eligible Projects section of the program description for examples of Positive Psychology themed projects outside of traditional Positive Psychology.

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