Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship


The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program offers the opportunity to highly motivated undergraduate students from around the world to engage in research activities in the summer under the mentorship of faculty at INSAIT. The program is modeled after the top successful summer research programs at MIT, Caltech, and ETH Zurich.

This is the second edition of SURF, after the successful first edition in 2023. Similarly to the first cohort, we expect that all participants will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing projects in their group and many will co-author paper submissions to top CS conferences and journals. You can read more about the experience of students from the first cohort below.


The program is 8-12 weeks long with the exact duration of the summer project decided between the student and their mentor. In order for students to optimally benefit from the program, we do not allow summer projects to be carried out remotely. Students are expected to be present at the institute in Sofia, Bulgaria for a minimum of 8 (max 12) weeks during the summer. 


All selected students will receive a monthly stipend of 1500 EUR to cover their living expenses. The accommodation for the students will be arranged for and the cost will be covered by INSAIT in addition to the stipend. We also provide travel and visa support for the selected candidates.

Who can apply

Undergraduate students enrolled in a Bachelor degree program at any accredited university are eligible to apply. The students should be enrolled in a STEM major, such as computer science, mathematics, physics, or engineering. To be eligible, applicants should also have a minimum GPA of 3.5 (out of 4.0) or the equivalent in the corresponding grading system. We strongly encourage applications from communities generally underrepresented in STEM.

Program timeline

Open application windowNov 15, 2023 – Feb 25, 2024
Reviewing applicationsFeb 26 – March 8, 2024
Shortlisted candidates are invited for a brief online interviewMarch 11, 2024
Interviews with shortlisted candidatesMarch 11 – 15, 2024
Selected candidates are invited to the programMarch 18, 2024
Selected applicants need to confirm their participation in the program no later thanMarch 18 – 22, 2024
Selected summer students reach out to their mentors to discuss projects and define a project scope/planMarch 25 – April 30, 2024
Approximate dates for the summer research projects (exact dates discussed with mentors). The duration of the project cannot exceed 12 weeksJune 1 – Aug 31, 2024

How to apply

Applicants need to submit their application materials before the deadline via our online platform. Your application should include:

  • A current CV (in PDF format)
  • An unofficial transcript from your university (in PDF format)
  • A one-page motivation letter (in PDF format)
    Please state (1) Why you are interested in our summer research program, (2) General research areas that you are interested in, and (3) Whether you have prior research experience.

Program requirements

Throughout the program, summer students have to deliver:

  • Project plan discussed with their mentor. The project plan should be ready at the beginning of the summer program. 
  • Final report which summarizes your work structured as a conference paper. Very often the aim will be for the final report to be submitted to a suitable conference.
  • Final presentation to be given as part of the INSAIT seminar series

Past Students

My internship in INSAIT truly impacted me as a person and as a scientist in many ways. It inspired me to do more impactful research.

Anna Mihalkova, ETH Zurich

I’ve always been interested in technology and how it interacts with our world. At INSAIT, I was working on identifying bias in large language models. The project allowed me to explore the concept of social fairness and how AI technology interacts with society. I learned a lot about AI’s potential to reshape the world.

Anna-Maria Gueorguieva, University of California, Berkeley

INSAIT is a new institute and it has a lot of potential to be one of world-class research institutes in the future. Bulgaria is a really nice place, as well! I had great time!

Thien Udomsrirungruang, University of Oxford


For questions about the summer research opportunities at INSAIT, please contact [email protected]


Q. If I am graduating in the spring of the year I am applying in, am I eligible for the program?

A. Yes.

When exactly can I start working on my research project?

A. The exact start and end date of your summer project are decided between you and your mentor. Once you have been selected and matched to a mentor, you need to contact them to discuss the timeline of your project.

If I do not have a complete application in time, can I still send in my application?

A. Unfortunately, we can not consider late applications.

Is any preference given to local students compared to international ones?

No! Students are evaluated solely on their application materials, irrespective of where they come from.

Do you take first-year undergrads into the program?

A. Yes

Can I continue to work on this project beyond the end of the program?

A. In general yes, this is something to be discussed between you and your mentor. 

Can I take a vacation during the research program?

A. Vacation time during the summer can be taken only with the approval of your mentor.