Frequently Asked Questions


I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Can I still apply?

To receive funding from the REU and IRES programs, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories by the time the program starts.

Students who are not eligible for NSF funding may still be considered for participation through other sources of funding available at the Sites. You may contact the individual Sites to learn whether they offer opportunities for international students.

I am a first-year student. Am I eligible for the REU program?

Yes. In fact, high school graduates who have been accepted at an undergraduate institution but have not yet started their undergraduate studies are also eligible to participate.

I have previously participated in the program. May I apply again?

Yes. However, students who have not yet participated in the program will receive priority.


What are the differences between the REU and IRES programs?

Both programs provide research opportunities in a wide array of disciplines funded by NSF. The main difference is that IRES is open to both undergraduates and graduates, and the research experience always occurs outside of the United States. The REU program is exclusively for undergraduates, and the experience is primarily based in the United States, though there are a few international REU Sites.

If you are an undergraduate student open to the possibility of traveling abroad, we encourage you to look at opportunities funded by either program.

How long does the research experience last?

The REU Sites program is generally 10 to 12 weeks long. The IRES Sites program is generally 6 to 10 weeks long, but students often must engage in pre- and post-experience activities.

Participants must be present for the entire duration of the experience.

What are the start and end dates of an experience?

REU and IRES Sites typically operate during the summer. The program dates vary by Site. Please refer to the Site’s website or use the search tool on the Sites page to find out about important dates and deadlines.

What is expected of a participant?

REU and IRES participants must commit to working a maximum of 40 hours a week for several weeks. Thus, you should not apply to a Site if you plan to carry a heavy course load or hold a demanding job. Accepting a research experience position implies that you agree to be available for the entire program. Consult with Site staff if you need flexibility in your workload or schedule to accommodate classes or other work.

Do I get paid as a program participant?

Students participating in REU or IRES Sites typically receive a modest stipend determined by each Site, room and board, and travel to and from the Site. Contact the Site directly for more information.

Do I get academic credit for participating?

Probably not. Typically, paid research positions are not eligible for academic credit. However, you may check with the Site.


How do I apply to a Site?

It depends on the Site you are applying to. If you are applying to a Site using the common application, go to “Create account/log in” to get started with your application. If you are applying to a Site that does not use the common application, you will need to complete that Site’s program-specific application, following its application procedures.

Is there a program application fee?

No. Sites may not charge students an application fee.

When is the deadline to submit my application(s)?

Application deadlines vary by Site. Please refer to each Site’s website for important dates and deadlines, or use the search tool on the Sites page.

When will I know whether I am admitted?

Notification dates and procedures vary by Site. Sites are committed to completing the evaluation process as soon as possible. Please note that due to the large number of applications and the small number of positions, many highly qualified applicants will not be admitted. This should in no way discourage you from applying!

I don’t have Internet access. Can I still apply?

Yes. Please contact the Help Desk to receive a paper version of the registration form and submission instructions.

Common application

Which Sites are using the common application?

Currently all Sites listed on this website are using the common application.

How do I apply to Sites that are not part of the common application?

You can apply to these Sites by following each Site’s application procedures. Refer to the Site’s website or contact the Site for more information.

How many letters of reference do I need?

You must provide contact information for two people, who will be sent a reference form to complete online.

How many Sites can I apply to through the common application?

You may apply to up to 40 Sites through the common application.

If I apply to the maximum number of Sites allowed through the common application, can I apply to additional Sites that are not included in the common application?

Yes, you may apply to additional Sites directly as long as they have not adopted the common application system.

I have applied to the maximum number of Sites allowed through the common application, but I would like to apply to more Sites that accept the common application. Can I apply “directly” to these additional Sites?

No, you must use the common application to apply to Sites that are using the common application.

Help Desk

For questions, comments, or immediate assistance, please contact the Help Desk: or 1-800-232-8024