Application FAQs

Program Eligibility

I’m not a Harvard student. Am I eligible?
Yes indeed! A core part of our mission is to give students at schools with limited research facilities the exposure to Harvard’s research environment.
I don’t have any research experience. Am I eligible?
Competitive applicants have at least one summer or semester of wet lab research experience beyond required class lab sections.
Is there a minimum GPA required?
Leadership Alliance suggests at least a 3.0 GPA but applications from students who describe exceptional circumstances in their personal statement, or who demonstrate a marked progression of improving grades on their transcript, may be considered.
I haven’t taken a molecular biology class. Can I still apply?
What the admissions committee is looking for is evidence that the applicant has enough understanding of contemporary molecular biology (including gene structure and function, transcription and translation, etc.), to be comfortable in the program. This usually means evidence of coursework that includes information about molecular biology. The name of the course is not important.
I’ll be graduating from college in May or June 2023. Am I eligible?
In order to be eligible, students must still be undergraduates during the summer in which they participate in the program. Therefore, if you will have received a B.A. or B.S. (or comparable) degree by June of 2023, you would not be eligible for SHURP. Students who are presently applying to graduate or medical school might find summer opportunities at the school that they decide to attend.
I will still be taking classes or finals when SHURP starts. Can I still apply?
We realize that some schools have spring semester/quarter schedules that conflict with the calendar that we are required to follow, and we try to accommodate students from these schools as best we can. In some cases, we can have students arrive after the program starts and stay for a full ten weeks or arrive at the start of the program and take their final exams in Boston (with instructor permission). You are more than welcome to apply to SHURP, and if you are accepted, we and your home campus program directors and advisors can work to figure out an end-of-semester or end-of-quarter plan for you.
I’m not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Can I apply?
Because the program is funded by federal agencies, it is open only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can provide their I-551 card number.
I’m not eligible for SHURP. Can you suggest any other summer programs?
There are a number of other summer programs at Harvard. You can find a list of them here.


The Application Process

How do I apply to SHURP?
Apply through the Leadership Alliance. There are two Harvard programs, make sure to select "Harvard University Division of Medical Sciences." For more information about the Leadership Alliance, including the application process click here.
What’s the most important part of the application?
All parts of the application are important.  The SHURP admissions committee is looking for:
  • a strong personal statement explaining your goals, research interests, research experience, and why you want to participate in SHURP
  • strong letters of recommendation that discuss in detail your work in the lab and/or in the classroom
  • a demonstrated commitment to scientific research, as shown by coursework, research, and recommendations
How long should my personal statement be?
You must follow the guidelines specified by the Leadership Alliance.
I want to work with a specific faculty member. Should I mention that in my essay?
It's not necessary to indicate the specific faculty members you’re interested in working with, but it can be helpful to mention research areas that you are interested in and why you are interested in them. Sometimes, mentioning faculty as examples of researchers in areas of interest is useful. 
We do not make decisions about the research placement of SHURP students until after they have been accepted into the program and have indicated their commitment to participate. Then, we work closely with students and faculty on lab placements that will provide a good learning environment for the summer.
While it’s fine to discuss what you’d like to do or list names of faculty in your application, please do not contact them on your own.
When will I hear about admissions decisions?
The admissions committee reviews all complete applications after the deadline, February 1, 2023, and is not able to consider applications on a rolling basis. The committee makes decisions by late February. If you have been admitted we will contact you through the end of March.
Can I submit an application after the deadline?
No, the admissions committee cannot review applications after the deadline of February 1. 


The SHURP Summer Experience

I’m a pre-med student. Will there be an opportunity for me to study for the MCAT while participating in SHURP?
SHURP is geared to students pursuing research, rather than clinical, careers. SHURP is a full-time program and participants function more like research scientists, rather than hourly employees, and enjoy spending time in lab. We do not encourage students to take MCAT courses while participating in SHURP.
How much time do students spend in the lab? What other sorts of things do they do during the summer?
SHURP is a full-time program and participants function more like research scientists, rather than hourly employees. This could mean some time in the lab on evenings and weekends in order for a student to accomplish their own goals. SHURP students usually participate in their lab’s group meetings. Students also participate in twice-weekly program sessions to discuss career and professional development and their own research, along with some other group activities. 
Do SHURP students attend the Leadership Alliance symposium?
How are SHURP students funded during the summer, and what does the funding cover?
SHURP students are funded by federal grants. They receive a stipend (in a few installments throughout the summer), housing (within walking distance of the Longwood Medical Area campus), travel to and from the program, and a few meals every week. If you are funded by a federal grant at your home institution (e.g. MARC, U-RISE), you are still eligible to participate in the program. However, we cannot guarantee that your stipend will be supplemented to the level other SHURP students typically receive.
Where do SHURP students live? Is there a meal plan?
All SHURP students live near the Harvard Medical School (HMS) campus. There is no meal plan available, but there are plenty of grocery stores and dining options in close vicinity to SHURP summer housing. Students often have lunch with their lab members.  Meals are provided at the twice-weekly program discussion sessions, as well as at other events during the summer. 
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