How to Apply to ELF

ELF Application & Selection

Watch this video for tips and information about the process and timeline.


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1. Proposal

A successful ELF proposal is a well-articulated project description which outlines the purpose, methodology, and timeline of the project, with supporting documentation and mentor support.

Please use our template for your proposal:

DOCX (Blank copy)

Funds may NOT be used for:

  • Tuition, textbooks or other academic course materials
  • Personal stipend or per diem
  • Personal housing unrelated to project
  • Personal expenses unrelated to project
  • Alcohol

2. Mentor Letter of Recommendation

Each ELF is required to have an SMU faculty mentor. The mentor provides support in a variety of ways, from developing the proposal and facilitating research, to editing the final product. This letter is not simply a recommendation, but a statement of support and commitment to the student and their project.

Info for mentors


IRB Approval

All ELF proposals are subject to approval from SMU Research Compliance. If your project involves human participants, you will need to submit a protocol with the Institutional Review Board (IRB). This must be approved before any funds can be distributed. You may also need to complete Human Subjects Research Training before starting your project.

You do not need to apply to IRB before you apply to ELF. If you already have, please include this information.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Process


Host Agency Letter of Support

If the project is hosted by a community partner, your application requires a Letter of Support from them. You may send them the letter at this link; the letter describes the information we need. 

Host Agency Letter of Support

When will I know?

Notifications are sent approximately 4 weeks after the application deadline. Please consider this in your timeline.

Applications are reviewed during the following time periods. Applications received after these deadlines will be considered for the following cycle. Please plan accordingly.

  • Senior Cycle Deadline: September 15
  • Early Decision Deadline: December 15
  • Regular Decision Deadline: February 15

How do you select Fellows?

A committee of SMU faculty and staff reviews each ELF proposal. Proposals are scored with this template: Scoring Template for Reviewers

Once selected by the committee, proposals will be reviewed by Research Compliance (who may contact you for clarification).

Approved proposals will be notified by email.

What do I do after I'm accepted?

Selected ELFs are required to attend an ELF Orientation meeting to review guidelines and timelines.

  • ELF Orientation Checklist
  • Reimbursement Process
  • Reflections