The Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, or SURF, provides undergraduate students pursing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with an introduction to the research process under the guidance of seasoned mentors at JPL and Caltech.

As part of the program, students collaborate with potential mentors to define and develop a research project and write a proposal. A faculty committee reviews the proposal and recommends awards, then students carry out their research over a 10-week summer internship. At the conclusion of the program, students submit a technical paper and give an oral presentation at a symposium modeled on a professional technical meeting. Students at JPL will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of enrichment activities, including tours, lectures and career advisement, arranged by the JPL Education Office.


  • This program is open to Caltech and non-Caltech undergraduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
  • Open to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

Caltech Students

  • Minimum 2.00 GPA.
  • Students must complete their third term at Caltech, or at another school under a program approved by a dean.
  • Students must be eligible for fall term registration before beginning their SURF project and no later than July 1.
  • Students must not be under any disciplinary sanction.
  • Students must be available full-time (40 hours per week) during the 10-week summer period and cannot take other courses or hold another job during this time.

Non-Caltech Students

  • Minimum 2.50 GPA.
  • Students must complete their second semester or third quarter at their college or university.
  • Students must not be under any disciplinary sanction.


  • Participants receive a monetary award for the period of the internship. Award amounts vary and are subject to change.
  • Housing and travel allowances are not provided, however, program participants have the option of living in the Caltech dormitories for the summer guest housing rate. Rates are the discretion of the Caltech Department of Institute Housing and are subject to change.

How to Apply:

Identify and contact a mentor in advance of submitting an application. Visit the SURF page on the Caltech website to review Announcements of Opportunity (available during the application period from November to February) for a listing of research projects being solicited by JPL mentors. A mentor must agree to support your application and collaborate with you to develop and define the research project and write and submit a research proposal.

More information on Finding a Mentor and Tips for Meeting with a Potential Mentor and Writing a Proposal are available on the Caltech website.

Once you've identified a mentor and defined your research project, fill out the online application.

You will need:

  • Your written research proposal.
  • Caltech and non-Caltech students must submit two letters of recommendation, at least one of which should be from a faculty member.
  • An unofficial transcript (non-Caltech students only).

For more information about JPL internships and fellowships, visit our FAQ page.

Contact Info:

JPL Education Office - Student & Faculty Programs
(818) 354-1260