Funds & Budgeting

During your first semester in the program, you will submit an extensive, revised budget covering the entirety of your multi-year project. Understanding research budgets is covered in our seminars. After URSCA staff has approved your preliminary budget, your faculty mentor must approve it. Your budget must be fully approved at least one month in advance of any purchases, and it must be updated annually—more often if it changes significantly. Typically, funds cannot be accessed until the first summer after entry into the program to give you time to develop the project and plan.

Ordering Supplies for Your Lab

URSCA staff will provide an order number (I/O) to your lab once you have an approved budget. You are responsible for tracking all lab purchases in your budget. Lab expenditures cannot include any equipment and cannot exceed 35% of your total budget.


In keeping with Johns Hopkins regulations, travel (including plane tickets, hotels, and other pre-purchased tickets) must be purchased through the URSCA office. Communicate with URSCA staff well in advance of any travel plans, and be aware that international research will often require a special research visa, which may take months to attain. Travel requests must be made 90 days in advance for international travel and 60 days in advance for domestic travel. International travel also requires approval by the Global Education Office, by the deadlines stated on their website.

Other Expenses

Non-lab and non-travel expenses are disbursed by Student Financial Support, based on your approved budget. Be sure to update your direct deposit information or mailing address to ensure receipt of your funds.

Other Budgeting Considerations

You may only begin to access your funds once you have a faculty mentor and an approved budget. Any budgeting involving travel must adhere to the Johns Hopkins University travel policies and related travel rates. Your budget must be broken down by direct lab costs (if applicable), travel costs, living expenses (lodging, utilities, food, etc.) and other purchases (books, a camera, etc). Use the URSCA Budget Template.

Finding a Mentor

  • If any course you are taking provides possible inspiration for your research, talk to the professor during office hours about your interests and how to develop them.
  • Read course descriptions in the course catalogue to see if any courses specifically or generally align with your research interests and contact the professors who teach those courses.
  • Look up the research interests of the faculty in the department that interests you. This information is available on all department websites.
  • Your mentor must be a full-time Hopkins faculty member. Your mentor does not have to be a faculty member in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences.
  • It is strongly recommended that your official mentor be someone on the Homewood campus. Administratively, it will make things much easier for you.
  • If you’re stuck, contact URSCA staff or a more senior Wilson Fellow for advice.

Contacting a Potential Mentor

  • Contact the professor by email, asking for an informational interview about your interest.
  • Write the email in a formal manner, and be sure to address them by their honorifics (usually Dr.).
  • This topic is also covered early on in the workshop series and sample emails will be shared.

Once You Have a Mentor

Accessing Funds

  • Meet with your mentor to discuss your planned expenses.
  • Based on that discussion, review and revise the budget originally drafted for the project.
  • Submit the revised budget to URSCA using the link in the URSCA Canvas site.
  • Upload all your receipts to your Wilson Fellow folder, and record your expenses in the spreadsheet provided in your folder.

Meet with your Mentor

  • Discuss where you anticipate needing guidance (e.g. how to narrow your topic, how to structure the timeline of your research, what your final product might look like).
  • If you’re feeling lost, come up with a couple of specific questions with which to begin the conversation and write them down so you can reference them while you’re articulating why you’re struggling.
  • Ask your mentor for some reading suggestions because one of your first tasks will be completing an extensive literature review.
  • Discuss by what method and how frequently you’d both like to make contact. Would your mentor prefer to meet in person or correspond by email, phone or Zoom? Set up a standing schedule if that’s how the two of you decide to structure your meetings.

Changing Mentors

Fellows should not expect to change mentors. Working with the same mentor will allow you to produce a deep and extensive project. The mentor relationship is taken seriously, so choose your mentor carefully.

Requirements & Expectations

To stay in the program and be a successful participant, you must:

  1. Have a mentor and be engaged in a research project by January of your sophomore year. If you enter the summer after sophomore year without a mentor, you risk losing your fellowship.
  2. Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and maintain the minimum number of credits each semester. If your GPA falls below a 3.0, or you do not maintain the minimum number of credits, you forfeit access to your funds. If this happens for three semesters in a row, you will be removed from the program with the right to appeal.
  3. Maintain your major in a Krieger School of Arts & Sciences department. If you are a double major, your primary major must be in the Krieger School.
  4. Attend all mandatory meetings. You must notify the director by email in advance if you cannot make a meeting and explain your conflict.
  5. Submit a research report once a month.
  6. Meet individually with URSCA staff once a month.
  7. Turn in a final product to URSCA when you have completed a research project. The product should be similar to what would be expected in a professional publication in your field. For many, this product is a 20- to 25-page research paper, but creative projects may take many other forms.
  8. Publicly present your research at the URSCA Symposium during the spring semester of your senior year.
  9. Attend every poster session prior to your senior year and all Woodrow Wilson Program events.
  10. Meet with the director to discuss the situation if for any reason you have to leave the university (take a leave of absence, transfer, etc.).

Download the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program participant agreement.

Fellows who need five years to complete their bachelor’s degree may continue in the Woodrow Wilson Program throughout all five years as long as they are in good academic standing and have not spent all of their fellowship funds.

Students in a BA/MA degree program are considered fellows only as long as they are undergraduates. In typical BA/MA programs, the second year a student enters the program is their fifth year at Hopkins. At this point, the student becomes a full-time graduate student and is no longer considered a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

The director of the Woodrow Wilson Program reserves the right to remove a fellow if they determine that the fellow has not been making satisfactory progress.

Conducting Research

Choosing a Project

The fellowship allows you to pursue your research interests in an independent fashion. However, it also calls for high-caliber research. To be approved, research topics should be closely related to your fields of academic specialization (i.e., your majors and minors).

You should plan to concentrate on one topic the entire time you are in the program. Some research lends itself best to a long-term effort.

When to Research

During your first year in the Woodrow Wilson Program, URSCA staff will help you choose a mentor, design a project, and budget time and finances. Your coursework and overall success at Hopkins are a priority, so you and URSCA staff will discuss time management and how to balance priorities.

If you are conducting scientific research in a lab, you will need to maintain a presence in that lab throughout the school year. However, the bulk of your work in the fellowship should be planned for intersession and the summer (i.e., when you are not in class and can concentrate on your research without worrying about your grades).

Academic Credit

Fellows do not automatically receive academic credit for their work through the Woodrow Wilson Program. You may earn academic credit for your research by completing an independent study with your mentor for one semester. You will need to ask your mentor if they are willing to do an independent study with you.

If your final project overlaps with the thesis you are competing for your major or is a shared project in any other way, you must disclose this information to both programs and both programs must give approval. Failure to do so could indicate academic dishonesty.

Publishing Your Research

A written document is required as part of your preparation for the public presentation of your research. This paper will be kept on file in the Office of the Dean for reference by future Woodrow Wilson Fellows. The Woodrow Wilson Program also encourages all of its fellows to seek publication for their research in some form; fellows will discuss options for publication with their mentors and with URSCA staff.

Presenting Your Research

All Wilson fellows present the results of their research in the URSCA Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring before they graduate. Wilson fellows are also expected to present their research at a professional conference in their field. URSCA provides guidance on presentation and poster design throughout the period of your fellowship.