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Application Information

Please read this entire page before beginning the application process!

Students must identify and contact a research mentor in advance of submitting an application. A mentor must agree to support your application, help you to develop and define a research project, and assist you in the writing of the research proposal.

This early interaction is a very important part of the application process. Visiting (non-Caltech) students usually have to accomplish this discussion via e-mail, phone, or Skype. If a student is in the area, we encourage him/her to visit the campus and meet the mentor.

Please refer to the Finding a Mentor page and Tips for Meeting with a Potential Mentor for additional information.

All application documents will be submitted directly to the SFP Online system.  Applications are due on or before February 15. The application contains:

  • An online application
  • A proposal written by the student and uploaded to the application
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation from faculty (at least two in the relevant discipline)
  • An unofficial transcript

We will contact the applicant's mentor for a confidential evaluation after the application is submitted.

Applicatons are encouraged from undergraduates from diverse populations and backgrounds and from students who attend schools where research opportunities are limited.

The Research Project

The most important factor in selecting a project is your enthusiasm for the project itself and for working with the mentor. The Amgen Scholarship is not "just a summer job"; a project should have significant intellectual and creative content. The benchmark for a suitable project is the potential for publication in the refereed literature.

The Proposal

The proposal should be as technical and specific as you can make it as it will be read by people in the field. It must outline what you plan to do, and why it will be useful. The outline consists of theoretical background and experimental techniques, how the work fits into the flow of the research in the field, and a work plan for the project. Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by the mentor and by a member of the faculty in the project field. For further guidelines on writing an excellent proposal, access the Proposal/Project Plans.


Recommendations are completed online with the application form. The online application will request recommender contact information from the student. The recommender will then be emailed directly and asked to submit his or her recommendation into the online system. Students are required to submit three letters of recommendation. At least two should be from faculty members in the relevant field.  Your prospective Caltech mentor will complete a separate evaluation and should not write a letter of recommendation. Recommendations are also due on Feburary 15th so submit your recommender information well in advance.

Applications are judged on the following criteria:

  • Research proposal is a clear description of the proposed project. It demonstrates the applicant's understanding of the nature and purpose of the project, how it relates to other work in the field, and it includes a work plan for accomplishing project goals.
  • Proposed project allows student to take intellectual ownership and has potential for publication in refereed journal. Proposed project can be reasonably done in a 10-week period.
  • Student is prepared for the project (coursework, experience, etc).
  • Mentor and faculty have submitted supportive recommendations and evaluations.

Awards will be announced on March 15. Students will receive e-mail notification of the outcome of their applications and instructions and forms required to accept the award.

Applications will be available in November 2018