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Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates (CREU)

CREU is a joint project of CRA-W and the Coalition to Diversify Computing.
Program Co-Director (CRA-W)

Jamika Burge
Program Co-Director (CDC)

Joel Branch
Program Co-Director (CDC)
Proposals Due May 18, 2015
Frequently Asked Questions about the program
CREU Projects Since 1998

Sample CREU Proposal

About CREU

The Computing Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) and the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC), are pleased to announce a program that encourages and supports undergraduate student research. The goal of this initiative is to increase the numbers of women and minorities who continue on to graduate school in computer science, computer engineering, and allied disciplines. The program, called Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates (CREU), is designed to provide positive research experiences for teams of undergraduates who will work during the academic year and, in some cases, the following summer at their home institutions (provided they haven't graduated before the summer). Formerly administered as two separate programs - CREU and MRO-W - the program includes not only computing research, but also multidisciplinary research. Each research team will consist of undergraduate students and sponsoring faculty members. In the case of multidisciplinary projects, each team will consist of faculty from both the computing and non-computing fields as well as students from these respective fields. For example, a project in computational biology might consist of a computer science major, a biology major, a computer science professor, and a biology professor. The program begins in the fall and runs either through the academic year or through the following summer.  Students will be required to maintain a weekly journal and website documenting their progress. A mid-year progress report will also be required. At the end of the project, students will be required to submit a one-page summary of their work. These summaries will be posted on the CRA-W web site. In addition, students are strongly encouraged to submit papers to appropriate journals and to present papers or posters at national or regional conferences. The program provides travel funds to support such participation and past CREU participants have found such activities to be extremely valuable.

Stipends and Other Financial Support
Each underrepresented student will receive a stipend of $3,000 for their work during the academic year.  If the optional summer extension is proposed and granted, then each underrepresented student also receives a stipend of $4,000 during the summer (for 10 weeks of work at 40 hours/week). During the course of the project, each team may request funds for travel to conferences to present the work.  Occasionally we can provide some funds for supporting materials as well.  We typically ask that requests for additional funding (travel+supplies) not exceed $1500 per team per year. Note that the additional funds cannot be used to purchase laptops or other general purpose computing equipment.

For a summary of all undergraduate research programs sponsored by CRA-W, see Resources for Undergraduate Students.

General CREU Guidelines

Basic Eligibility

  • Students should have completed two years of undergraduate study at the college level, though in some instances we are able to support second year students who are particularly advanced in their computer science course work. Priority will be given to students who will be juniors in the fall of 2015. We cannot support students after their graduation date.
  • Students must have completed at least four courses in their respective majors.
  • Projects must be either directly related to computing or, in the case of multidisciplinary projects, contain a significant research component in computer science or computing. It is not sufficient to propose a project that will just use computer science or computer engineering students to write code in support of other research.
  • Projects must be suitable for undergraduate research.
  • Applications must be jointly submitted by the proposing students and one or two sponsoring faculty members from each of the disciplines represented.
  • Because of restrictions from our funding sources, only proposals submitted from institutions located in the United States will be considered. In addition, undergraduate student participants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.
  • Students must be conducting their research onsite during the program.  That is, students and advisors must be at the same institution, at the same time, during the CREU program.

Team Membership

  • Teams consisting of all women or all underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Projects will be considered that also include student(s) from non-underrepresented groups. Because of funding limitations, however, financial support is available only for students from underrepresented groups.
  • Teams of two to four students are strongly encouraged, but proposals consisting of a single student working with a faculty mentor will be considered.  In these cases we especially hope to see a project plan that involves conference travel or other activity that provides opportunities for the student to meet other research students.
  • Students must be conducting their research onsite during the program.  That is, students and advisors must be at the same institution, at the same time.  Students may not be participating in a study abroad program and connecting with their group only virtually.

Evaluation Criteria

  • The project should further the goal of the CREU program to increase the numbers of women and students from other underrepresented groups who continue on to graduate school in computer science and computer engineering.
  • The scope and goals of the project should be reasonable and realistic, based upon the students' prior education and experience.
  • The plan for the project should be well-defined and should describe the collaborative approach to be taken. The proposal should identify the expected role and contribution of each member of the team.  In the case of one-student projects, the proposal should make clear how the student will interact with other researchers through, for example, conferences, future summer REU experiences, etc.  CREU projects are not intended to be done in isolation.
  • The project should warrant background research on the part of the students, and should have an active, investigative and experiential nature by which the students can discover their results.
  • The project should enable student empowerment, leadership development, confidence-building, and skill-building in project management.
  • The proposal should be complete and well-written.
  • Students should be actively involved in writing the proposal, with guidance and support of the sponsoring faculty mentor(s).
  • The students should have good potential for doing independent work.
  • The sponsor(s) should have the background necessary to oversee the research and there should be an appropriate strategy for keeping the students on track.
  • The sponsor(s) should understand their responsibility to mentor the students in regard to their consideration of graduate school.
  • The sponsor(s) and students must have enough time to devote to the research project so weekly meetings can occur with additional independent work taking place outside of these meetings.
  • It is assumed that all students will be active participants throughout the entire project. It is expected that students will spend approximately 10 - 15 hours per week on the project during the academic year and 40 hours for 10 weeks during the optional summer.
  • Teams that are awarded academic year funding will be given the opportunity to apply for summer extensions the following February.  If a team anticipates making such a request, they may indicate this in the May proposal.
  • If the participants have had previous CREU funding, performance on the earlier project will be considered.
  • For teams that previously received CREU funding, new proposals must include a section titled, "Prior Results".  In this section,  you should (1) enumerate the years you have received funding from CREU, and (2) itemize the results from those projects in terms of student publications, posters, travel to conferences, and where the students that participated are today (graduate school, etc.).


Applications should include the following information

  • Project title
  • Participant names
  • Project description
  • Specific questions to be addressed; hypotheses to be investigated
  • Methods to be used, including background research to be studied
  • References to related work
  • Impact on the goal of CREU
  • A description of student activities and responsibilities on the project
  • A description of faculty activities and responsibilities on the project
  • Project timeline
  • If appropriate, a statement indicating that the team anticipates requesting the optional summer extension.
  • Budget - Include all stipends requested
  • Role of the CREU project within the larger scope of this research project (if the CREU project is part of a larger project).
  • Prior results of CREU projects (if applicable).
  • A complete transcript for each student to be funded.

The proposal should be submitted as a single file in pdf format to In addition, each student will be required to complete a form with the following information. A link to the form will be sent to each student upon receipt of the proposal.

  • Name
  • Project title and college/university
  • Current year in school (e.g., sophomore, junior)
  • Anticipated date of graduation
  • Major and GPA
  • Gender
  • Minority status (specifically ethnicity/race)
  • US Citizen/Permanent Resident Status
  • Email address and mailing address
  • List of courses taken relevant to this project
  • Any other information pertinent to the proposal
  • Confirmation of expectations and hours worked on the project

Each faculty member will be required to complete a form with the following information. A link to the form will be sent to the faculty sponsor upon receipt of the proposal.

  • Name
  • Project title
  • School/Department Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Relevant background in this research area


Application Deadline: May 18, 2015. Notification of Awards: will be emailed June 15, 2015.  Midterm Progress Reports Due: December 15, 2015.  Requests for optional summer extensions due February 15, 2016.  Final Summary Reports Due: May 2, 2016 for academic year projects; August 1, 2016 for projects with summer extension.


Please see the list of Frequently Asked Questions for useful information. Send any inquiries or questions about the CREU program to


CREU is a joint project of CRA-W and the Coalition to Diversify Computing with support from the National Science Foundation.