What is the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Data System?

The REU Data System is a web-based system launched to test two ways of collecting data from students interested in applying to participate in the REU program: (1) a registration and (2) a common application.

What are the plans to pilot test the system?

The first wave of the pilot test is now complete. Over 50 REU Sites from National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Divisions of Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematical Sciences tested the REU Data System with the 2019 REU cohort.

The system’s common application component is maintained for the 2020 REU application cycle for Sites who participated in the 2019 pilot.

NSF expects to conduct a second pilot to test the system at scale with volunteer Sites from all NSF’s disciplines during the 2021 REU application cycle.

What is the purpose of the REU Data System pilot?

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 requires that students in the REU program “be tracked, for employment and continued matriculation in STEM fields, through receipt of the undergraduate degree and for at least three years thereafter” (Section 514[a][6] of Public Law 111-358). In response to this requirement, NSF commissioned two projects: (1) a feasibility study, which was completed in 2016, and (2) the current effort to develop and pilot test a data system. The data system will enable NSF to comply with congressional requirements, sponsor future evaluations of the program, and support studies that contribute to the knowledge base on authentic research experiences.

Who is conducting the pilot?

NSF has selected Mathematica to conduct this study. Mathematica, a nonpartisan policy research organization, conducts research and surveys, mainly for federal and state governments and private foundations. Mathematica has conducted some of the most important evaluations of education, employment, nutrition, welfare, and early childhood policies and programs in the United States. Mathematica strives to improve public well-being by bringing the highest standards of quality, objectivity, and excellence to bear on information collection and analysis for government agencies and foundations.

Registration System (previously offered to Biology and Earth Sciences)

Can my Site use the registration system for program year 2020?

No, the registration system will not be available for the 2020 REU program. If your Site used the registration system last year, you are invited to use the common application system for program year 2020.

Common Application

How will my REU Site benefit from participating in the pilot?
  • You will be able to review completed applications online and download them to make admissions decisions as you normally would.
  • By testing and providing feedback on the system, you will have an exclusive opportunity to help NSF decide whether to adopt such a system. For example:
    • You can use and comment on whether the system is user-friendly and facilitates your admissions procedures.
    • You can determine whether the system generates less work for you and your staff than your usual application process.
    • You can suggest enhancements to the system.
What does my participation in the pilot involve?

As part of the pilot, you will be asked to complete three tasks:

  1. Log into a module designed for principal investigators to enter information about your REU Site, such as the dates you will start and stop accepting applications.
  2. Direct students to apply at
  3. Record admissions decisions (spring 2020) and whether students participated at your Site (late summer 2020).
What support will I receive to participate in the pilot?

You and your staff will receive ongoing technical support—available by calling 1-800-232-8024 or sending an email to

You will also be invited to participate in a live demonstration of the REU Data System (November 2019).

What do I have to do for my REU Site to be part of the pilot?

To participate in the pilot, you first have to register through the principal investigator module of the REU Data System and enter information about your Site. This is a prerequisite so that applicants can apply to your Site using the common application. You will then have to direct prospective applicants to complete their applications for your REU Site at Below is some suggested language you can use to instruct applicants to complete their applications:

Thank you for your interest in [PROGRAM NAME]. To apply to our program, please go to The website will ask you to create a user account. When your account is created, follow the steps provided on the website to complete the common application. Make sure to select [PROGRAM NAME] when selecting the Sites to which you want to apply. The deadline for completing the application to our program is [DATE].