Learning Through Research

Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA)

AURACUR Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA)

The Council on Undergraduate Research invites applications for an annual award, the CUR Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA). CUR’s document, Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR), describes the organization’s criteria for excellent undergraduate research programs. This award recognizes higher education institutions that have successfully implemented some of the characteristics of excellence, have devised exemplary programs to provide high-quality research experiences to undergraduates, and have evaluated the success of these programs. The depth and breadth of the institutional commitment to undergraduate research as well as the innovative nature of a sustained, exemplary program are important criteria for award selection.

Hope College, Denison University, and Florida Atlantic University were the recipients of the 2017 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments and were honored at a reception held on January 25, 2018, in Washington, DC. Read the press release. A spring 2018 webinar is planned that will highlight the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions.

Furman UniversityClemson University, and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire received  the 2016 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments and were celebrated during a reception held on January 27, 2017, in San Francisco. Read the press release.  A webinar in spring 2017 highlighted the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions.

Information about AURA 2015 awardees


Information on the 2018 Submission Process

Nominations will be open to all types of higher education institutions. CUR will make up to three awards per year, with efforts to recognize institutions in the different Carnegie classification groups. 

Letter of intent (LOI): Due March 23, 2018 – please forward to eambos@cur.org with a copy to submit@cur.org

  • A letter of intent (up to 750 words) summarizing the institution’s commitment to undergraduate research and highlighting a specific high-quality exemplary program is required.  The LOI should describe the size and scope of the UR program and its impact on your campus.  With respect to the exemplary program, describe the execution of the program, program goals and assessed impact on your campus.   
  • A subset of institutions submitting a LOI will be asked to submit a full application portfolio.  The criteria to select the institutions invited to submit a full application portfolio are: 
    • Does the applicant describe a commitment to undergraduate research that promotes and sustains high-quality, campus-wide undergraduate research that is an exemplar of key COEUR principles?
    • Does the applicant describe and document with objective measures an undergraduate research program that is broad in scope and depth?
  • Institutions will be notified of the status of their application by April 30, 2018

Complete Finalist Application (for the subset of institutions invited to submit a full application portfolio): Due June 22, 2018. Click Here for Application

A full application portfolio consists of the following materials:

  • An application form signed by the senior academic officer responsible for campus-wide undergraduate research activities.
  • A description (up to 2500 words) of the institution’s overall undergraduate research efforts, including assessment information. This description should choose and speak to 5 of the 12 characteristics of excellence listed in the COEUR document and provide evidence for achieving excellence in these areas.  Successful applications will support claims of excellence by providing objective, qualitative or quantitative data. Comparison to national or organizational norms is encouraged.
  • An in-depth description (up to 2000 words) of one program element that has been exemplary, including evidence that it has been effective.
  • Supplementary materials (limited to 10 pages) providing qualitative or quantitative data evaluating evidence in direct support of the application narrative. The supplemental information should provide supporting data that is not easily communicated in the narrative and should bolster claims of excellence or transformative change.  Relevant supporting data should be contextualized and summarized in the application narrative.

Evidence might include:

  • Student outcomes: enhanced learning, including evidence that student learning outcomes have been achieved; increased retention and graduation rates; peer-reviewed publications in scholarly journals; presentations at professional conferences; success in obtaining post-graduate employment in major-related field; higher acceptance rates into graduate or professional programs; increased scholarship or fellowship awards that include scholarly work as criteria
  • Faculty outcomes: peer-reviewed publications and presentations co-authored with undergraduates, recognition of the role of mentoring undergraduate researchers and/or developing undergraduate research opportunities in the promotion and tenure process, other activities engaging with students
  • Institutional outcomes
    • increased diversity, retention, satisfaction and graduation rates
    • innovative or particularly effective fiscal or administrative approaches that have allowed the program to serve a growing number of students and faculty
    • institutional efforts with demonstrated success with a specific population of students
    • program effectiveness (growth, scope and depth; broad participation among faculty and students, including demographic and disciplinary diversity; sustainability; institutionalized and/or adoption beyond the home campus)
    • administrative efficacy (efficient use of resources; increasing institutional commitment and support) 
  • Evidence for quality of the undergraduate research being conducted, such as depth of student engagement, venues of dissemination of student-conducted work, and the quantity of work disseminated. 

Awardees will receive:

  • A one-year enhanced institutional membership in CUR with no cost for the awarded institution.
  • Recognition through CUR’s newsletters, press releases, and/or notifications through appropriate higher education publications.
  • A plaque for public display presented at a highly visible CUR-sponsored event.
  • An opportunity to have the institution and the exemplary program featured at an award symposium or panel discussion at a CUR-sponsored conference (CUR Biennial Conference or CUR Dialogues), as subject for a CUR webinar, and/or in an invited feature article of CUR’s journal, Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research.

Awards will be announced in fall 2018 and formally made during a ceremony and presentation to awardees in 2019 at a CUR-sponsored event.  Representatives from awardee institutions may be asked to serve on future AURA selection committees. Questions may be addressed to Elizabeth Ambos, Executive Officer, Council on Undergraduate Research (eambos@cur.org or 202-783-4810 x 201).