Frequently Asked Questions

Lehigh Physics REU - Frequently Asked Questions


  • Are international students eligible to participate in the Lehigh REU Program in Physics?

    Yes, we do consider applications from international students who are already in the United States and are currently enrolled as an undergraduate in an American university. Unfortunately, we are not able to consider applications from international students attending colleges or universities in other countries. While most of our financial support comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and NSF requires that its funds can only be used to support U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents, we do have a limited amount of unrestricted funding from other sources that can be used to support international students (typically 2 or 3) each year.

  • Are students enrolled in masters degree programs or other graduate programs eligible to participate in REU?

    No. Only students who will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter are eligible to participate in REU.

  • I am graduating in May of this school year. Am I eligible to participate in the REU program?

    Generally, no. Only students who will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter are eligible to participate in REU. If you are enrolled in a dual degree program such that you will still be enrolled in a college or university as an undergraduate next Fall semester, then you are eligible to participate in REU. If you are graduating in December of this year, please make sure you let us know by checking the appropriate box. In this case, you are eligible.

  • I am graduating in December of next school year. Am I eligible to participate in the REU program?

    Yes, if you will be enrolled as an undergraduate during the following Fall semester or quarter, then you are eligible to participate in REU.

  • Are freshmen (first-year students) eligible to participate in the Lehigh REU Program?

    Yes, freshmen are eligible to participate. Our program is designed primarily for students finishing their junior (or in some cases sophomore) year of college. Under extremely rare circumstances, we have accepted a student finishing his or her freshman year. Over the years, only 2 or 3 freshmen have been selected to participate out of more than 480 total REU participants. While freshmen are eligible, the chance of being selected is very low.

  • Are sophomores eligible to participate in the Lehigh REU Program?

    Yes, sophomores are certainly eligible and are considered for all positions. In general, sophomores will be given lower priority than juniors because they usually do not have the same level of advanced course work under their belts, and because students finishing their junior year are in their last summer of eligibility for REU (and therefore we believe should receive higher priority). Despite this, we award a large number of our positions (around 25%) to sophomores each year. Note that if you are graduating next year because you are enrolled in a 5 year or dual degree program, and you will have completed three years of college by summer, you should let us know in the "comments" box of the application.

  • Can my professors send their letters of recommendation by email? What about my resume or transcript?

    All application materials can be submitted via email to, via fax to 610-758-5730, or by regular mail to:
    Physics REU Coordinator
    Department of Physics
    Lehigh University
    16 Memorial Drive East
    Bethlehem, PA 18015

  • Are any special forms required for recommendations?

    No. Recommendation letters on professional letterhead are preferred, but any format is acceptable.

  • Do my recommendations have to be sent by professors of courses I have taken?

    No. You are welcome to have your recommendations sent by anyone who you feel can make the best case in support of your application. In general, it is more important to choose someone who knows you well and can provide a good picture of your abilities, than to choose someone who doesn't know you but has an impressive sounding title. However, since we are hiring students to participate in physics and engineering research projects, your physics, math, and engineering professors are more likely to be able to address relevant criteria than can your English professor or your supervisor at the restaurant where you worked.

  • Is an unofficial transcript acceptable?

    Yes, we only need an unofficial transcript for the application process. However, if you are selected for the program and you choose to attend, then we would need an official transcript at that time in order to get you officially enrolled in the program.

  • How can I get an unofficial transcript that I can upload to the online application form?

    Often, your college may have an online menu that you can use to view your transcript in a web browser. Many web browsers allow you to print the page to a .pdf file (choose the Print... option) or save the page to a .pdf file (choose Save Page As... option) under the File menu. You could also print your transcript and scan it to create a .pdf file.

  • I attend a college that uses the quarter system, and my final exams don't finish before the start date of the Lehigh REU program. Am I still eligible for the program?

    Yes, we will accommodate your college schedule if you are accepted for our program and choose to participate. We have had a number of participants who face this situation. If your final exam schedule requires you to arrive at our program 2 weeks late, we will design an 8-week project for you. Your stipend will be adjusted to reflect the time you actually participate in the program (i.e. if you are here for 8 weeks, you will receive 80% of the standard stipend). Unfortunately, we cannot extend the program at the end of the summer due to university restrictions on the dormitory.

  • What are the criteria used in the selection process?

    This is a difficult question since each participant is selected by the individual faculty advisor with whom he or she will work. Obviously good grades and strong recommendations are important. Individual advisors may also look for particular things such as a good grade in a particular course (such as differential equations), computer programming skills, or experience with the use of LabView for interfacing experiments to computers. However, many advisors simply look for someone who is bright, hardworking, and enthusiastic. Some advisors specifically select students from colleges or universities that cannot provide more than very limited exposure to research since this is a particularly important target group of the NSF REU program.

  • I didn't receive a confirmation that my application was received or that my file was complete. How do I know whether you have received all of my materials?

    With more than 600 applications arriving over a relatively short time period, we simply cannot send personalized confirmations to each student. It is your responsibility to make sure your professors get their recommendations submitted on time and to be sure your application, resume, and transcript also arrive on time. Since we receive so many applications, we ask that you only contact us ( if you suspect there has been a specific problem with part or all of your file. We also request that you don't make multiple requests for updates on the status of your application as we are dealing with an extremely large volume of incoming materials.

  • Are travel, food, or housing included in the stipend for REU participants?

    Each REU site offers its own compensation package. Here at Lehigh, we offer a relatively high stipend that includes money for a food allowance and free housing in the REU dormitory. We also provide some travel funds for students who must travel considerable distances (i.e. those who are traveling by air or who are driving such a distance that more than one travel day is required).

  • What are the chances that I will be accepted into the program?

    Our REU program is extremely competitive (as are all of the REU programs). We typically receive more than 600 applications for 25-30 positions, and approximately half of those applicants have GPA's above 3.5. (GPA is not the only criterion we use, but it gives a sense of the level of competition.) For this reason, we encourage you to apply to a number of REU programs to try to improve your chances of receiving an offer from at least one.

  • When will I be notified as to whether I have been accepted into the program?

    We use a rolling admissions program and treat each position separately. Although our application deadline is March 7th, some faculty begin reviewing applications as early as mid-February. Thus, a few of our positions may already be filled before our application deadline. If you want your application to receive full consideration for all positions, you should have your file completed by mid-February. However, most offers will not be made until on or after March 7th, and our offers may still be extended through early April. By mid- or late-April, we will send out notices by email to all students who will not be receiving offers of support.

  • I have an offer from another program and I haven't yet heard from Lehigh. What should I do?

    Congratulations! The competition for these programs is sufficiently tough that getting an offer from even one REU program is a significant achievement. If you prefer the program into which you were accepted over the Lehigh program, then you should, of course, go ahead and accept your other offer. We'd appreciate it if you'd email us at to let us know that you have accepted another offer and that we should remove your application from consideration at Lehigh. If you would prefer to come to Lehigh for the summer, then please write and let us know that you have another offer and when your deadline is. Often we cannot respond in time, and we may simply need to tell you that you should go ahead and accept the other offer. However, sometimes this information can speed up the process.

  • Can I earn course credit for research by participating in the Lehigh REU program?

    No, we do not currently offer course credit to participants. However, some of our participants continue working on their research projects once they return to their home institution, and it may be possible for you to arrange for course credit through your own institution. It is the student's responsibility to make such arrangements if desired.