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SURF Application

The 2020 SURF application is closed. We plan to announce the next competition in December 2020.

Interested in learning tips to enhance your application? Want to learn more about NIST and the SURF experience? Tune in to a recent recorded webinar.   Also, check out the FAQ's.

This webinar is for students to learn more about the National Institute Standards and Technology (NIST) and provide tips to submit a competitive application to the SURF Program.

Students must apply on USAJobs.Gov to be considered for acceptance into the program. To apply to the program, a USAJOBS profile is required. If you do not have a profile, please create it here .

Note: The university component has been removed from the application requirements. Thus, universities should not submit proposals nominating students to participate in the SURF Program.

A complete submission (via USAJOBS.GOV) contains the following:

  1. Responses to the questionnaire (includes eligibility and vacancy questions). 
  2. Two (2) letters of recommendation - Please request and enter the contact information on USAJOBS.Gov from individuals who are knowledgeable about your academic achievements and research experience. Feel free to ask your professors (current and past), research mentors, or internship supervisors. NOTE: You must submit your application for the letter writer to receive the request to provide a recommendation. The request for a recommendation letter will come from the e-mail  Additionally, it is the applicants responsibility to provide the correct information and make sure the letters are completed by the deadline.  NIST will not accept hard copies or submissions not uploaded in the portal. 
  3. Personal statement- The personal statement should include:
    • Description of scientific interest
    • NIST laboratory preference  and why you selected that laboratory
    • Expected impact if accepted
    • Description of future plans after graduating from undergraduate studies
  4. A brief (two pages or less) resume which includes name, e-mail, school name, G.P.A., research experience, technical skills, extracurricular activities, and graduation date (example resume)
  5. Transcript(s) from undergraduate institution only (unofficial is acceptable).
  6. Proof of U.S. citizenship: Proof includes a copy of an unexpired U.S. Passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate. NOTE: Driver license and social security card are not adequate forms of proof of U.S. citizenship.
  7. Verification of health insurance (copy of insurance card)

The SURF Program at the Gaithersburg campus is anticipated to run between May 26 – August 7, 2020 or June 8 – August 7, 2020  (Cancelled); adjustments may be made to accommodate specific academic schedules (e.g., a limited number of 9-week slots). Students are expected to participate in the program until August 7, 2020 (cancelled).

View the list of frequently asked questions.

To see the breadth of the SURF program, see examples from the past SURF student projects descriptions and activities:


General Information:

Dr. Brandi Toliver
SURF Program Manager



Created May 27, 2010, Updated April 23, 2020