Skip to Content

College of Arts and Sciences

Theme Semester Research Grant

Have an idea for a research project related to play? We're awarding grants up to $500 to 10 students for research or creative projects related to play, the theme of our 2023 Theme Semester.

The Theme Semester Undergraduate Research Award challenges undergraduate students to connect the theme of play to their inquiry. We are considering play in the broadest sense possible.

  1. What does play look like in the sciences, history, visual art or dance?
  2. How does play connect to larger inquiries and how people develop new knowledge and other creative activities?
  3. How and why has the perception of play changed over time and across cultures?
  4. What connections exist between play and learning?
  5. How can we interpret play in new ways?

The research and creative activities are only limited by the imagination brought to the research topic. 

The grant encourages young scholars and creatives to ask big questions about the world and to see how we might come closer to answering them when we look at the problem through the lens of play.


The grant application will consist of a one-page description of the research project, a support letter from your faculty mentor within your major department, a brief budget, and a research timeline. Applications are being accepted through February 10. Please note: all grant recipients will be required to attend and present during our Theme Semester Research Celebration Day on April 14. There will be an additional cash research prize awarded at the celebration event.  

Apply Today

Questions you might have about the grant

February 10, 2023 by 5:00 p.m. 

Yes, all award recipients need a faculty mentor for two reasons. One, to mentor the  research or creation process and two, because all funds are distributed directly to the  department.  

Yes, sharing in the research or creation is encouraged. But we can only fund one project,  we cannot fund each researcher within a project. In other words, the $500  award amount  does not change if there are several collaborators.  

Please work with your department’s business manager. The funds cannot support salary or food. 

You submit your application through the Theme Semester webpage.

Rubric will be available closer to the start of spring semester.

We will award ten $500 grants .

All funds must be accounted for by the end of the Spring Semester 2023.

Yes. The Theme Semester is a College of Arts and Sciences event.  

No. Your one-page description will describe the nature of the research project or creative endeavor. The budget, budget justification and timeline will be separate.  

Yes. Making your research visible to our intellectual community matters. It is your voice, inquiry, scholarship, research, and creative activities that go a long way in helping make USC who we are. April 14th is an important date to celebrate that.  

Yes. There will be at least one $500 judge’s prize awarded to the most well-executed  research project or creative activity.  A judging rubric will be made available at the start of the spring semester.  


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.