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Supporting Undergraduate Research at Abilene Christian University since 2009

Top 10 Ways to Improve your Chance in Receiving Internal Grants

These 10 (or 11) suggestions focus on applying for grants involving student research from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Pursuit. Many of these will apply (but not all) to applying for grants from the Math-Science and Cullen Research Councils.

10. Remember your audience.

The committees who evaluate the grant proposals come from departments all over campus. Remember to write your proposal so that those from outside your field can evaluate it.

9. Have a clearly identified research question/ thesis statement/ creative project.

This is related to #10. State your research question, thesis statement, or identification of your creative project in such a way that you are sure the evaluators understand what you want to do. (Or at least understand that you understand what you want to do.)

8. Delineate the purpose, goals and objectives for the project.

Some of the questions that the committees look at are:

  • Is the research question of creative project clearly defined with an appropriate rationale?
  • Is the scope of the questions or project manageable within the time frame and context of the student?
  • Are the goals clearly stated and are the objectives measurable and achievable?

7. Have a clearly identified methodology

The committees do not necessarily have to understand all the details of what you are doing, but they do want to see that you know what you are doing. There needs to be a clear plan in place.

6. Read the rubric and know the criteria used for selection.

The rubrics can be found through the following links

Summer Student Stipend from Office of Undergraduate Research

Pursuit Research, Math-Science and Cullen Research Grants

5. Make sure you have demonstrated clear benefits to students in terms of Student Learning Outcomes.

This is particularly important in Pursuit Grants due to the link to SACS accreditation. Be sure that those evaluating your grants understand how what the students are doing contributes to their learning. If they are spending the summer watching you use a very expensive piece of equipment that they are not allowed to touch, that may be very useful to them because they might not be exposed to that type of research otherwise and may be the way student research is done in your field. BUT you must explain why this is important and how it will contribute to student learning. Remember the evaluators are most likely not from your field.

4. Describe the final scholarly product in ways that are achievable.

These do not have to be (and rarely are) publications. These can be oral or poster presentations at a conference, including the Undergraduate Research Festival. They can also be performing or taking work to a juried show or competition, putting on a play, or whatever else is appropriate to your field. Just be sure and explain what it is.

3. Budget must be clear and detailed with obvious links to plan for the project.

If there is something in your budget that may not seem like it obviously connects to your research, you need to explain it. And what may seem obvious to you may not seem obvious to someone outside your field. If budget items are not clear you may risk your research not being funded or being funded at an amount that does not include that item.

2. Do your homework. Look at good grant examples on the ORSP website.

ORSP has provided examples of strong grant proposals. Check out examples of funded proposals.

1. Proofread

This should go without saying, but occasionally even faculty submit something that does not appear to have been proofread. Poorly written grant proposals are less likely to be funded.

0. Don’t relax until you receive your confirmation email. Then, Celebrate.

(I’m a graduate of the Big 10… we have trouble sticking to 10.)

ORSP should send you an email confirming the receipt of your proposal.


If you have questions regarding grants for research that involves undergraduates, please contact

Dr. Autumn Sutherlin, Director of Undergraduate Research (

Dr. Phyllis Bolin, Director of Pursuit (