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Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA)

Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA) is a spring and summer program to promote advanced research and creative activities among UT undergraduate students. All current undergraduate students enrolled at UT are eligible to apply. AURAs will be awarded to support students who will work to advance their research or creative project under the mentorship of a UTK or UTIA faculty mentor.

The application for Summer 2024 AURA is now closed.
The next AURA application cycle will be for Spring 2025 and the application will open mid Fall 2024.


**The research proposal section of the application was updated Spring 2024.** 

Funding Schedule 

  • Spring Semester – First Day of Spring Semester to Last Day of Spring Semester  
  • Summer – Mid-May to Mid-August 

*The exact schedule should be independently arranged between the student and faculty mentor.

Funding Amount 

  • $1500 + $250 research expenses (ex. data, supplies, travel)

*Please note that all student funding will be disbursed through Financial Aid.

Application Schedule 

  • Spring semester:  November 1 – 30 
  • Summer term: March 1 – April 5

Award notifications are made 2 – 3 weeks after submissions close. 

Faculty Mentor 

The faculty mentor’s role is paramount, as they will guide the choice of a project and the practice of professional research approaches and methods. The faculty mentor of an AURA recipient will receive a $250 allocation for materials needed to support the AURA recipient. This advanced research experience can be applied to an international research project as long as a faculty mentor at UT is involved.


For Application 

  • Students must first obtain a faculty mentor to support their efforts. This support includes: choosing a research topic, completing the proposal form, and completing the proposed project.
  • A stipend will pay students to support their Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA).
  • Projects may be a student’s undergraduate thesis, a part of the faculty mentor’s research program, another research project, or an ongoing project previously initiated. The key is that each student is involved in scholarly work independent of a classroom setting. Such work may be research, or it may be a creative activity involving the arts.
  • Students may receive an AURA for research conducted during a course.

For Funding Term 

  • Students funded through Spring AURA must participate in the Spring Undergraduate Research Seminar Series.
  • Students funded through Summer AURA must participate in the Summer Research Scholars Seminar and attend at least two of the colloquiums.
  • Students funded by this program agree to present their results at the annual fall research celebration, Discovery Day. If graduating in the same spring you receive the AURA funding you must present your research at EUReCA or an equivalent venue.
  • Students funded by this program agree to meet with the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships at least once during the award period to discuss their current research and future research plans. 

How to Apply

The application can be completed in sections and saved for future additions and edits prior to submission. The application deadline for a Spring AURA award is November 30, 2023. The deadline for a Summer AURA award is April 1, 2024. Awardees will be notified once applications have been reviewed.

The application includes a general information form and a two-page research proposal. You must upload your proposal to the application form as a Word document or PDF. The application will be forwarded to the faculty mentor for approval upon submission.

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To aid the proposal process, we offer the research proposal guidelines with an outline below.

Selection Process  

AURA is a competitive award, so please follow the prompt closely, spend time developing your application, and take advantage of campus resources (including URF AURA workshops, your faculty mentors, the Writing Center, etc.).. AURA awardees will be selected based on the merit of their proposal. Particular attention will be given to supporting various disciplines across the UT campus, with a preference for first time AURA student awardees. The applicants and their faculty mentors should read the following criteria to prepare applications. Please review the Research Proposal Guidelines when writing your research proposal.  

Research Proposal Guidelines 

Your research proposal must include the following Headers and Sections to be considered a well-written, convincing, and complete project proposal. The proposed research should be manageable within the designated semester time frame. The entire proposal should be a maximum of two pages with formatting requirements applied. Project proposals that exceed the maximum page limit will not be reviewed. Reference pages do not count within the two-page limit.  

  • Title  
    • Choose a clear, concise, and compelling title that reflects the essence of your proposed research. 
  • Introduction  
    • Specify the research type: qualitative, quantitative, mixed, or creative activity.  
    • Clearly outline the research focus and its scope.  
    • Articulate the personal significance of the research and its alignment with your academic journey.  
    • Briefly detail your qualifications, preparation, and experiences relevant to project completion.  
  • Background & Significance  
    • Provide a brief overview of existing literature and contextual information that supports your research.  
    • Describe the research implications for your discipline. 
  • Purpose and Research Question(s) 
    • Describe the overarching purpose of your research – the project’s main objective (s).   
    • Clearly state the primary research question(s) your research aims to address. 
  • Methods and Data Analysis 
    • Describe the research methods and analysis you plan to use for the proposed project.  
  • Faculty Mentor  
    • Describe the faculty mentor’s role in the proposed project.  
    • Describe the connection between your project and the mentor’s research, scholarly, or creative work.  
    • Describe the mentor’s past or present supervision of your coursework, research, or independent work.  
    • Explain how the mentor has prepared you to complete your project within the given timeframe.  
  • Dissemination   
    • Describe your dissemination intentions, such as applications to national scholarships, organizations, and conferences.  
  • Timeline with Benchmarks for Successful Completion  
    • Establish benchmarks for successful completion.  
    • Identify 1-3 goals achievable within the grant’s timeframe and the metrics for measuring their success.  
    • Detail how you plan to achieve those goals, step-by-step.   
  • Budget (optional)  
    • If you are requesting the $250 supply budget, outline a budget plan for your research, considering available resources and resources that would need to be procured. If you do not include this section, the $250 supply budget will not be provided. 
  • References  
    • If necessary, provide a list of the references supporting your proposal. Your references may go on to a third page, but no other material should appear on the third page.  

Research Proposal Formatting Requirements  

  • Font: Times New Roman  
  • Font Size: 12  
  • Line Spacing: 1 or Single  
  • Margins: Normal or 1 inch on each side  
  • Required Headers that are listed in the proposal guidelines 
  • Headers: Must be the same font and font size but bold.   
  • Page Limit: 2  
  • Document Format for Upload: PDF  

Funding Details

  • Students awarded an AURA will receive and complete an AURA Acceptance form that outlines the details of the program and funding.
  • Upon receipt of the AURA Acceptance form, the department contact will be notified for payment administered by stipend through Financial Aid.
  • Departments will not be reimbursed for work done outside of the program dates.