Skip to body

Physics

FAQs for CUR Physics and Astronomy REU program

Frequently Asked Questions

Before Applying

  • I will be unable to attend part of the REU program because of my college's schedule.  Can I still apply?
  • Am I eligible if I am an international student?
  • Am I eligible if I am a high school senior who has taken college physics?
  • Am I eligible if I have a bachelor's degree in another field but have returned to college?
  • Am I eligible if I am in a dual-degree (3+2) physics and engineering program and will already have received the first degree?
  • Am I eligible to apply if I am an undergraduate enrolled at a large research university?
  • I am an undergraduate at a large research university that just completed my first (or second) year.  Many undergraduates at my university have access to research during their senior year.  Am I eligible to apply?
  • Am I eligible to apply if I have already participated in a REU program or have had a faculty mentored research experience?
  • Are students enrolled in masters degree programs or other graduate programs eligible to participate in this REU program?
  • I am graduating in either May or August of this school year. Am I eligible to participate in this REU program?
  • I am graduating in December of the next school year. Am I eligible to participate in this REU program?
  • What are you looking for in the students you select?
  • I have no previous research experience. Will that hurt my chances?

Application Questions

  • Is there a preferred format for transcripts?
  • How do I get my document into the preferred PDF format?
  • Can I start my application, save what I have done, and come back to it at another time?

Transcript Questions

  • I don't have fall grades because of my school's policies.
  • Will my application be taken more seriously if I send an official transcript?
  • I can't upload an official transcript. Can I have the registrar's office mail or email one to you instead?
  • How can I obtain an unofficial transcript?
  • I have more than one transcript. Do I need to combine them into a single file?
  • The transcript upload doesn't work. What should I do?

Letters of Recommendation

  • Can I send more than two letters?
  • Whom should I ask for letters?

Offers

  • Why is it taking you so long to decide on my application?
  • Can I wait to decide on your offer until I hear back from the other programs I applied to?

 

Have another question that does not appear in this list?  Please contact Dr. Michael Jackson for more information.

 

Back to the CUR Physics and Astronomy REU program's web page.

 

I will be unable to attend part of the REU program because of my college's schedule.  Can I still apply?  You may still apply and there is some flexibility in the REU schedule.  However, this will vary from project to project and our goal is to ensure everyone can participate during the end of the summer meeting that occurs during the week of August 2nd - 7th.  This is when your deliverables are due along with your input and assessment of this REU program.   

 

Am I eligible if I am an international student? No. The National Science Foundation, which provides support for the REU program, requires that its funds can only be used to support U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents

 

Am I eligible if I am a high school senior who has taken college physics? No. The National Science Foundation, which provides support for the REU program, requires that all students have been enrolled full-time in college immediately prior to the summer REU.

 

Am I eligible if I have a bachelor's degree in another field but have returned to college?  Maybe. If your degree was in a field that would not be considered preparation for continued study in physics, then yes. For example, you can apply with a previous degree in English Literature, but not with a previous degree in Math or Engineering.

 

Am I eligible if I am in a dual-degree (3+2) physics and engineering program and will already have received the first degree?  Yes. If you receive the physics degree at the end of your fourth year but will continue as an undergraduate for a fifth year, you are eligible for the REU program during the summer between your fourth and fifth years.

 

Am I eligible to apply if I am an undergraduate enrolled at a large research university?  Yes.  We encourage applications from undergraduates attending any university.  A goal of this program is to provide students with their first formal research experience under the supervision of a faculty mentor.  As such, students attending colleges and universities where access to research FOR UNDERGRADUATES is minimal or non-existent are encouraged to apply.  While there is limited access to research at a number of community colleges and four-year colleges/universities, undergraduates at large research institutions may also have limited access to research. 


I am an undergraduate at a large research university that just completed my first year.  Many undergraduates at my university have access to research, but only during their senior year.  Am I eligible to apply?  Yes. This may be a great opportunity to get your first faculty mentored research experience. 


Am I eligible to apply if I have already participated in a REU program or have had a faculty mentored research experience?  Yes.  While a goal of this program is to provide undergraduate students with their first faculty-mentored formal research experience, our primary objective is to provide meaningful research experiences to students within their area of interest.  Therefore, we encourage all undergraduate students to apply to this program.

 

Are students enrolled in masters degree programs or other graduate programs eligible to participate in this REU program?  No. Only students who will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter are eligible to participate in this REU program.


I am graduating in either May or August of this school year. Am I eligible to participate in this REU program?  Generally, no. Only students who will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter are eligible to participate in this REU program. If you are enrolled in a dual degree program such that you will still be enrolled in a college or university as an undergraduate next Fall semester or quarter, then you are eligible to participate in this REU program. If you are graduating in December of this year, please make sure you let us because you are eligible.


I am graduating in December of the next school year. Am I eligible to participate in this REU program?  Yes, if you will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter, then you are eligible to participate in this REU program.

 

What are you looking for in the students you select?  Each mentor looks for different things, so there is no simple answer to that question. Above all, we would like to ensure students have a meaningful research experience and would like to have a good match between students and their projects. Ideally the project will match the student's preparation, physics/astronomy interests, and preferences as to how to spend their time.

 

I have no previous research experience. Will that hurt my chances?  No.  We anticipate a subset of students selected for this REU will be in the early portion of their academic career (possibly rising sophomores or rising juniors).  This includes students from community colleges.  

 

Is there a preferred format for transcripts?  Yes.  We request transcripts be submitted in PDF format, although we will accept other formats.  We want reading the applications to be straightforward for all of our faculty mentors, on whatever computers they may happen to use.

 

How do I get my document into the preferred PDF format?  Open the document in whatever word processor or viewer you're using. There may be a "Save As" or "Export" option that allows you to select a format. Alternatively, you could print the document to a file in PDF format.  We will accept other formats.

 

Can I start my application, save what I have done, and come back to it at another time?  Unfortunately no, we do not have that flexibility.  That is why we suggest to both you and your references to prepare your information in a Word (or similar) document.  Then cut and paste your information into our application.

 

I don't have fall grades because of my school's policies.  We are aware that some schools do not give letter grades (especially to first-year students) and that others (particularly those abroad) only give grades at the end of the academic year. We will be reasonable about this. Fill in what you can, and make a note about your school's system in the "Current Year in School: Other" text field of the application form. Definitely make sure to let us know what classes you took during your first year.

 

Will my application be taken more seriously if I send an official transcript?  No. We accept unofficial transcripts for two reasons. First, we don't want students to forgo applying on account of the expense of a formal transcript. Second, we ask that you upload your transcripts directly to our online system. That saves us the (substantial!) work of scanning and uploading all the transcripts for the faculty mentors. It also improves readability; occasionally official transcripts are designed not to be scanned and become nearly illegible. Finally, it means the transcript is available sooner and ensures it isn't misfiled with the wrong student's application.

Please do not have an official transcript sent to us electronically, since we will not take the time to work through the security surrounding it, save it in a readable format, and upload the result to our database.

If you choose to have an official transcript sent to yourself electronically, make sure you save it as an unlocked file before you upload it. If they are locked, the transcript is essentially useless since we are unable to open it.  Again, we encourage you to send an unofficial transcript.  

 

I can't upload an official transcript. Can I have the registrar's office mail or email one to you instead?  No. We understand that the transcript you upload will be unofficial, and that's fine with us.

 

How can I obtain an unofficial transcript?  There are several options. At many schools, students can access something with a name like "Academic History" or "Student Record" that lists everything we need. For each course you took, we generally want to see the course number, name, units, grade, and which term you took it. You can save this file and upload it to our site.  Another suggestion would be to ask your academic advisor for assistance.  Sometimes they also have access to your unofficial transcript. 

 

I have more than one transcript. Do I need to combine them into a single file?  No, although if you can do so fairly easily that does make reviewing the application simpler for us.  You will be permitted to upload three files.

 

The transcript upload doesn't work. What should I do?  A few applicants to an earlier REU program reported trouble when using Internet Explorer as their web browser in Windows 7.0. If you have this problem, try switching to a different browser, such as Firefox, or to a different flavor of Windows. Google Chrome also seems to work. If you do have trouble, we would appreciate a note to jacksonm@cwu.edu mentioning what web browser and OS you originally used, and what was ultimately successful.

 

Can I have more than two references?  No. If you choose your recommenders correctly, two should be sufficient for us to learn what we need. For hints on what makes a good letter, see the next question.

 

Whom should I ask for letters?  Since this is a physics/astronomy research program, by far the most useful letters are from previous physics/astronomy instructors or research mentors.  If you have had a research experience in another field such as math, biology, geology, etc, be sure to get a letter from your research mentor.

If you have never done research, ask for letters from physics, astronomy, or possibly math professors: people you have taken classes from, graded problem sets for, or talked to for course and career advice. How well the professor knows you is more important than your grade in their class; we already know your grades from your transcript anyway. Don't be tempted to ask for letters from elementary or high school teachers, your swim coach, your boss from when you worked as a clerk in a department store last summer, or even the graduate student who taught your physics lab.

Also, if you transferred from a community college to a university, both letters can come from the community college faculty.  

 

Why is it taking you so long to decide on my application?  Since each offer we make is for an individual project, we have to make the offers sequentially. That generally means only one offer per week for each project. If you are, say, the fourth choice for a particular project, you won't hear from us until late April (and then only if the three students ahead of you decline).

 

Can I wait to decide on your offer until I hear back from the other programs I applied to?  Unfortunately, no. Contact the other programs and see what they can tell you before our deadline. We use a one-week deadline, as do many other REU programs. It's a balance between the needs of successful applicants who want to compare their different options and the needs of the students who may get offers in the next round. We want to finish the admissions as quickly as possible so that unsuccessful applicants have time to make alternate plans.

 

Back to the CUR Physics and Astronomy REU program's web page.

 

This website was developed using information from other NSF-REU and summer research programs including those at the University of California at Davis, Purdue University, Hope College, and Lehigh University.