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Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements for Caltech Students

To be eligible for SURF you must:

  • Be a continuing undergraduate student
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • Complete the third term at Caltech, or at another school under a program approved by a Dean
  • Be eligible for fall term registration before beginning your SURF project and no later than July 10
  • Not be under any academic or disciplinary sanction

Eligibility Requirements for Visiting (Non-Caltech) Students

To be eligible for SURF, you must:

  • Be a continuing undergraduate student and eligible for fall term registration*
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5/4.0
  • Complete the second semester or third quarter at your college or university
  • Not be under any academic or disciplinary sanction

* Students need to be matriculated in a degree-granting undergraduate program. High school students who are co-enrolled in college courses are not eligible.

** Students from the University of Iceland or from one of the following Cambridge colleges (St. John’s, St. Catherine’s, Corpus Christi, or Pembroke) may only apply to SURF through the established exchange programs with these schools. Please contact your school to find out more information.

Additional Requirements for Visiting (non-Caltech) International Students

International students are eligible to participate in SURF on the Caltech campus; however, only U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are eligible for SURFs at JPL. If SURF award is made, international students will be given instructions on how to apply for an F-1 or J-1 student visa abroad prior to participation in SURF.  International students currently attending a college or university in the U.S. must secure special off-campus employment authorization prior to participation in SURF. F-1 students must apply for either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT); J-1 students must apply for Academic Training.  Please consult an International Student Advisor at your current U.S. institution as soon as you apply for SURF to understand your school’s requirements and deadlines for authorizing off-campus work authorization.  CPT, OPT, or Academic Training must be approved by your home institution prior to beginning your SURF placement.  OPT approval may take in excess of three months!

Practical Training for F-1 Students in the U.S.

CPT can be granted through a student’s current academic institution and does not require an application to Immigration. Each college or university in the U.S. has established specific guidelines and procedures for authorizing Curricular Practical Training. Students should consult their current international advisor as soon as the SURF application process begins.

OPT requires the student to submit an employment authorization application directly to Immigration. The application process requires a new I-20, endorsed by the student’s current international advisor, for OPT. When the application is approved, Immigration will send the student an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students may NOT begin SURF until the EAD is received. Because Immigration can take more than three months to process an OPT application, students are encouraged to consult their current international advisor as soon as the SURF application process begins.

Academic Training for J-1 Students in the U.S.

Academic Training is granted through a student’s home institution and does not require an application to Immigration. Each college or university in the U.S. has established specific guidelines and procedures for authorizing Academic Training. To find out the specific qualifications for this type of employment authorization, students should consult their current international advisor as soon as the SURF application process begins.

If, after consulting with the current international advisor, a SURF applicant has questions about securing employment authorization, he or she may contact International Student Programs (ISP) at Caltech for additional guidance and information.

Expectations

Upon receiving a SURF, students sign an agreement to fulfill the following requirements:

  • To devote full effort to conducting the SURF project (Fellows cannot take courses or hold another job.)
  • To participate in the project for the full ten-week period
  • To submit two interim reports approved by their mentors
  • To submit an abstract of their project
  • To submit a written technical report approved by the mentor
  • To give an oral presentation on one of the scheduled seminar day symposia
  • To abide by Caltech's Honor Code
Caltech is committed to equal opportunity for all persons without regard to sex, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, pregnancy, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as disabled veteran, or other eligible veteran, for otherwise qualified individuals with a disability, or any other condition protected by the state and federal law. It is the policy of Caltech to provide a work and academic environment free of discrimination as required by federal and state law, including Title IX which prohibits discrimination based on sex in Caltech’s educational programs and activities. Caltech will take all reasonable steps to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence in its work and academic environment. Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX may be referred to Caltech’s Title IX Coordinator who can be reached at TitleIXCoordinator@caltech.edu.