What is an ORCA Grant?

BYU's Office of Research & Creative Activities (ORCA) offers $1,500 grants to help undergraduate students work with faculty in a one-on-one mentoring setting. Grants are only awarded annually and proposals for the 2014-2015 academic year are due Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM MST.

Students may use an ORCA Grant to reimburse time, supplies, and/or other expenses involved with conducting an academic project. Students may either design their own project or work on a professor's ongoing research. All students must work with a mentor.

What do I have to do if I get a grant?

ORCA recipients must work with a faculty mentor and complete their proposed project by December 2015 and submit a two-page final report.

What kind of project can I do?

Students from all majors and a variety of interests are encouraged to apply. ORCA projects from all disciplines are funded. Talk to your mentor about what kind of research or work is being done in your field.

Do they award a certain number of grants?

ORCA strives to award at least 1/3 (one-third) of the proposals in every college each year.

How much money can I ask for?

All ORCA Grant Recipients receive $1,500. Each student may only apply for one grant per year. An additional $300 goes to the faculty mentor.

How much money do we each get if there are several co-researchers?

The $1,500 is split equally between all those that applied.

Researchers # of Researchers Amount each researcher receives
1 main researcher 1 $1,500
1 main researcher + 1 co-researcher 2 $750
1 main researcher + 2 co-researcher 3 $500
1 main researcher + 3 co-researcher 4 $375

What are the eligibility requirements?

See Eligibility and Conditions page

Are ORCA Grants retroactive?

ORCA Grants are not retroactive. Projects that have already been completed before the ORCA Grant Proposal is submitted are not eligible.

Who can be my faculty mentor?

The Faculty mentor must be a full-time Brigham Young University professor, associate professor, or assistant professor. Adjunct faculty, Ph.D. candidates, graduate students, professors from different universities, staff, and others are not eligible to serve as a Faculty Mentor.

How do I apply?

You must find a faculty mentor and then complete your proposal through the online ORCA System. The proposal includes completing a "Student Profile" and "Project Profile" and a two-page Project Profile document where you will explain your idea and how you plan to carry-out your project.

Do I need a mentor?

Yes, your ORCA Grant Proposal cannot be processed without a mentor endorsement from a faculty mentor. You may be surprised at how eager professors can be to work on projects with you. Talk to your professors or see the department office to determine which professors are interested in mentoring.

Only full-time BYU faculty members qualify as mentors.

Research opportunities and resources are available in the ORCA Grant Links menu, under "Student Resources".

How can I strengthen my proposal?

Find the right mentor: Look for a mentor now. Talk to professors about their research and seek those who share your academic interests. Don't try to find a mentor at the last minute.

Write a strong proposal: Start your proposal early. Write and edit several drafts and have your mentor and others review it. Don't throw your proposal together the night before it is due.

Successful proposal examples

How do they choose recipients?

Proposals are reviewed by two professors from the mentor's College. Proposals are ranked within their college and are not compared to students in other colleges. Scores are based on the following criteria:

Why apply?

ORCA grants are funded by donations to the University in order to promote mentored learning across campus.

Some benefits of mentored learning include preparation for graduate school, internships, and professional opportunities, relationships with faculty, and professional publications; many past ORCA recipients attribute their matriculation and success in prestigious graduate and professional schools to their mentoring experience at BYU.

Can my research involve traveling?

Yes, if it is necessary to travel to accomplish your research then travel expenses can be covered using the ORCA grant. Please indicate this on your application.

International travel is subject to University restrictions. Contact BYU International Travel Registry or the International Study Programs office for more about University travel restrictions.

Can I use human subjects?

In order to use people in your research, you may have to get compliance approval from the Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects (IRB), a safety board designed to protect human subjects.

Visit orca.byu.edu/irb to learn more about using human subjects in your project.

Can I use animals?

Animal research at BYU is Federally regulated. Please visit orca.byu.edu/iacuc if your project will involve animal subjects.

Does a Stafford Loan disqualify an applicant?

No, a Stafford Loan will not disqualify an applicant. An ORCA grant could, however, affect your Stafford Loan because the ORCA grant is considered income. Check with Student Financial Services to see how an ORCA grant may affect you.

Can I apply for more than one ORCA grant?

Each student may only apply for one ORCA grant per year. A student may either apply as the main researcher or as a co-researcher on another project but cannot be listed as a main researcher and co-researcher at the same time or be listed as a co-researcher on multiple proposals. Duplicate instances of a student will be removed.

What helps and resources are available to me?

Proposal workshops: ORCA offers a 1-hour, free proposal writing workshop to students interested in apply for a grant. Learn more

Sample proposals: Sample proposals from past ORCA grant recipients are available online.
View sample proposals

Links to research opportunities are available in the ORCA Grant Links menu, under "Student Resources".