Wharton Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR)

Summer 2021 Program Description

What is the Wharton Summer Program for Undergraduate Research?

Wharton SPUR is a unique program that provides a select group of up to 10 highly motivated students an opportunity to design and perform in-depth research over a 10-week period in the summer under the guidance of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members.  Additionally, the program forms a community of scholars in which students can hear research presentations by faculty members and doctoral students, learn about resources for research, and learn vicariously about other areas of inquiry through the sharing of research experiences. Students’ projects culminate in oral presentations and written research papers that will be submitted and reviewed for publication on ScholarlyCommons@Penn.

SPUR will run early June to early August 2021. Participants will live in University summer housing (paid for by the program for the duration of the program), attend a 4-day orientation, meet bi-weekly with their faculty advisors (or as mutually convenient, consistent with making appropriate progress on their projects), meet weekly with other SPUR scholars to hear research presentations and present their own progress, and submit a final research paper (approved by the faculty advisor).  In addition to receiving housing during the program, students will receive a taxable award of $3,000 (paid in three installments).¹

What are the program requirements?

During the period of residence in SPUR, participants agree to spend a minimum of 20 hours per week during the 10-week program focusing on their research project, to not accept employment that requires more than 20 hours per week, or to take more than one (1) concurrent summer course. Students also must agree to:

  • Perform a research project during the program period under the guidance of a designated faculty advisor, and meet with the advisor on a bi-weekly basis (or as mutually convenient, consistent with making appropriate progress on the project).
  • Attend all full-day orientation sessions and all weekly SPUR meetings (tentatively scheduled for 12-1:30 PM on Wednesdays).
  • Provide an oral presentation of work to date at the end of the summer program; submit a rough draft of your research paper by mid-August, and your final paper (approved by the faculty advisor) at the end of the research assignment, and no later than September 15.
  • Present your research at a symposium in the fall or spring semester following your summer research.
  • Submit a blog post or complete a Q&A student participant profile to communicate your research experience and/or findings to a broader audience (e.g., on this or other Wharton websites).
  • Non-compliance with the above deadlines and expectations could result in forfeiture of the award.

How do students apply?

All Wharton undergraduates in good standing are eligible.

There is no preference for the focus of the research or the kind of research project as long as the proposed project falls within program guidelines.  Projects may be theoretical or applied and may utilize quantitative or qualitative research methods.  Applicants must have a faculty member signed on to provide advice on their project. Priority will be given to those working with a Wharton faculty member. For information to assist with identifying a faculty advisor with expertise in your area of interest, please visit the Wharton faculty bio pages >>

A successful proposal should generally include a compelling, well-designed research project, including methodology for the 10-week program, strong academic achievement by the applicant, and an outstanding essay regarding program participation.

The second-round application deadline is March 31, 2021.

Applications may continue to be accepted after the initial deadline on a space-available basis. Email your interest to Dr. Utsav Schurmans at schurman@wharton.upenn.edu.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about the program, first, review the SPUR FAQ. If you have additional questions, you may contact Dr. Utsav Schurmans, Director of Research and Scholars Programs (schurman@wharton.upenn.edu).

Sai-hyun Kim, W20“Overall, SPUR was a great opportunity for me to see what conducting research is like and how to efficiently manage my time. Although it was a bit more difficult this year since everything was done online, I was able to communicate with my research advisor to come up with a research question that was testable and meaningful.” Read more

Sai-hyun Kim, SPUR 2020

rob“I’ve learned not only about my own interest, but also the interests of my nine fellow SPUR scholars. The ten of us created a community of undergraduate student researchers with disparate interests but the same goal: to discover something meaningful.” Read more

Rob Warshaw, SPUR 2015

¹ Monetary awards constitute taxable income. If you are a U.S. citizen, taxes will not be withheld from your award, but you will receive a 1099 tax form from the University of Pennsylvania at the end of the year for tax reporting purposes. If you are an international student, the University will withhold 30% of your award amount for tax purposes, barring any tax treaties that may exist with your home country. International students can find information about Penn’s tax policies at the Office of the Comptroller.