Research Experience for Community College Students

Research Experience for Community College Students

A summer research internship program for Colorado community college students.

The Research Experience for Community College Students (RECCS) is a summer research internship program for Colorado community college students. The goal of RECCS is to give community college students an authentic research experience that allows them to explore environmental or geosciences and gain the confidence to transition to a four-year program in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) disciplines.

Ten students receive a weekly stipend to conduct field- or lab-based independent research over a nine-week period in the summer (June 1 - July 31) while working with a team of scientists. Students learn basic research, writing and communication skills, and they present their research at a local student science symposium and at an oral session. 

This opportunity is open to all community college students in Colorado – all four corners!  Housing is provided for students living beyond the Denver Metro area.

For more information about RECCS please view the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab.

Check out CU Boulder's top ranking in the geosciences nationally and internationally. 


Who is eligible to participate?

Applicants must:

  • Be a US Citizen or a Permanent Resident
  • Attend a Colorado community college (can graduate in the spring semester and plan to attend a 4-year college)
  • Have completed a minimum of two science classes and college algebra
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • Not have a BA or BS even in a completely unrelated discipline
  • Be willing to make a full-time commitment for 9 weeks (40 hours per week) 
When is the application deadline and when will I know whether I’ve been accepted?
  • Applications are due by February 1, 2020 
  • You will receive an email when we have received your complete application packet 
  • March 1, 2020 – applicants will be notified of acceptance
  • All communications will be via email – check your emails regularly
What will I be asked for in the online application form?

For the online application, you will be asked for your contact information, academic information and general background questions.  Watch a video for application advice. Once you begin the application you must answer all questions before closing the form because your answers may not be saved if you plan to complete it at a later time. We suggest you write your responses to the following questions in a separate Word document, and then copy and paste them into the application when you are ready to complete the whole application in one sitting. It is important to be thoughtful in writing your responses to provide a window into yourself and your motivations for applying to this program.

The four open-ended responses are:

  • Please list previous jobs, internships, community or school leadership activities, and/or research experience (200 words or less)
  • Tell us about an experience where you learned about something new and challenging. This particular experience could have occurred in an academic, work, or personal setting, and should be something significant. What challenges did you have to overcome to learn, and how did you overcome those challenges? How have you benefited from what you learned? (200 words or less)
  • Please tell us about yourself and how you became interested in science (200 words or less)
  • Please tell us about your career goals and how participating the RECCS program will help you meet these goals (200 words or less)


Who should I ask to provide a letter of recommendation?

Mandatory letter of recommendation from an instructor who is familiar with your academic background. This instructor must also fill out this recommendation form.

View a video from a local community college professor who offers advice on how to get a strong letter of recommendation.

The letter of recommendation must be on official letterhead and signed by recommender.
The letter must be sent to or CIRES Education and Outreach, UCB 449, Boulder, CO 80309-0449

Optional letter of recommendation from someone outside your college who can provide another perspective why you are a great fit for the RECCS program. 


How do I submit my transcript?

Please request that an official transcript from your current community college be emailed to or sent via mail to: CIRES Education and Outreach, UCB 449, Boulder, CO 80309-0449.


Is this a paid internship?
  • You will receive a weekly stipend (New for 2020: The stipend is now $600 per week for a total of $5400)
  • You will be paid bi-weekly
  • Commuters will receive a weekly stipend of $50 to cover fuel costs


What are the expectations of the internship?

We seek students that are passionate about science, have intellectual curiosity, are hard working and responsible, and can work as part of a team. We expect you to conduct an independent research project, supervised by a mentor scientist - you will not simply be an assistant for a research group. We do not require that you have conducted research before – we will teach you the necessary skills. Those students that choose a field project must be physically fit and be flexible in their schedules, as field conditions can dictate a change in plans.  We will expect you to work 40 hours per week with weekend work a possible option.  You will participate in program evaluations throughout the summer.  At the end of the program you will present your results at a poster session for student researchers in Boulder and give a short oral presentation at CIRES (you can view the presentations by last year’s student researchers). 


What will I be doing as part of the RECCS internship?  

You will be planning and leading your own small research project while mentored by a scientist and the RECCS project team. You will collect your own data, analyze it and present your results both in an oral presentation and in a poster format. Throughout the internship you will receive support and guidance for all steps, but you are in charge of your own project. 


How will I be matched with a mentor? 

As part of the application you will choose and rank your top three areas of interest and explain why you are interested in them.

We will identify which scientists can serve as your mentor based on your interests and send them your application. The scientists will decide which students most closely match their research interests. Once the match has been made, the mentor will contact you and suggest several papers to read in preparation to work with them. To find out more about past mentors you can view their bios and research interests.


What types of research have student researchers done in the past? 

Check out the short elevator speeches of past student researchers or their full presentations.

Learn what types of traits mentors are looking for in their student researchers from one of the RECCS mentors.


What type of academic support is available for the interns?

Once a week, all student researchers will meet for a required group check-in with the program manager and each other.  Following the check-in, there will be a weekly Scientific Communication Seminar that will guide students through the process of constructing a poster and an oral presentation. It also includes training for preparing a CV, applying to a four-year college, using Excel and basic statistics. 


What is the schedule over the summer?

Orientation Week: 
The internship starts out with a week of introductions and getting to know each other, the staff and the mentors. Students will learn about the local physical setting and some of the research being conducted nearby through an overnight trip to University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station. 

Weeks 2-8:
Individual Research: Each student will be paired for the duration of the summer research experience with a research team to work on an individual project. Students will be closely mentored by members of the host research group for their individual research projects.
Scientific Communication Seminars: Once a week the cohort will spend time together learning various research-related skills – communication, science writing, science presentations – as well as career skills like resume writing and interview techniques. Students will also have time to read, write, analyze their data, and work on their individual projects.

Final Week: 
Students will prepare for and present results from their research project in a poster session for summer student researchers from a number of local summer research internships. Students will also present their research results in a short oral presentation at CIRES.


Is housing available?

Yes, housing in the CU off-campus apartments is available for free to those commuting more than 50 miles one-way.  You will have your own room and share a bathroom and kitchen with one other student. 


How many student researchers are accepted each summer? 

We accept 10-12 student researchers each summer for this competitive program. 


Who do I contact if I have further questions? 

Email: or call: 303.492.5670


Applications are due by February 1, 2020.

The RECCS Summer Research Program is open to all Colorado community college students. The program runs from June 1 - July 31, 2020. We encourage applications from students who are members of a traditionally underrepresented group in the geosciences. 

To be eligible to apply you must:
  • Be a US Citizen or a Permanent Resident
  • Attend a Colorado community college (can graduate in the spring semester and plan to attend a 4-year college)
  • Have completed a minimum of two science classes and college algebra
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • Not have a BA or BS even in a completely unrelated discipline
  • Be willing to make a full-time commitment for 9 weeks (40 hours per week) 
A complete application includes the following:
  1. Completed online application form
  2. Official transcript from current community college
  3. Mandatory recommendation packet from an instructor or administrator including:
    • Recommendation form
    • Letter of recommendation (printed on institution letterhead with a handwritten or an electronic signature)
  • Optional: Letter of recommendation from someone outside your college


Before starting the application read through the Frequently Asked Questions tab for important information about the program and advice on completing this application.

For Recommender

Recommendation Packet from a community college educator or administrator is required for each applicant to the Research Experience for Community College Students (RECCS) Program at the University of Colorado.  Due: February 1, 2020.

A completed RECCS Recommendation Packet consists of the following two documents provided by the same recommender:

1) Online Recommendation Form, which is accessible here 

2) Letter of Recommendation (on institution letterhead with a handwritten or an electronic signature, not a typed signature)

The Letter of Recommendation provides a summary of the candidate’s potential to succeed in the RECCS research program. We are particularly interested in the topics listed below. RECCS is a competitive program, and we appreciate your effort in supplying this information about your student.

  • How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?
  • The quality of the candidate’s academic or creative achievements, including areas not reflected on the official transcripts.
  • The applicant’s potential strengths in a collaborative research environment.
  • Those aspects of the applicant’s personality or character that would help them to succeed in this program.
  • The ability of the applicant to make use of this opportunity in preparation to attend a four-year institution.
  • The applicant’s level of interest in geoscience.
  • Anything else we should know?

The Letter of Recommendation must emailed as a pdf to or mailed to CIRES Education and Outreach, UCB 449, Boulder, CO 80309-0449.


Summer 2018

  • Drones, beaver dams help community college students get involved in research. read more
  • CU Boulder provides research opportunities to community college students. read more

Summer 2017

  • Thomas Nelson Community College Blog: Student Bound for Summer Internship in Colorado. A student in a Virginia community college, Rebecca was accepted to RECCS because she plans to pursue a degree in Geological Science at UCB.  read more
  • Three Front Range Community College students were RECCS interns this summer.  read more

Summer 2016

  • Front Range Community College Blog: RECCS program offers firsthand research experience for one of their students  read more​​
  • CU Boulder reports about interns' experiences read more

Summer 2015

  • Daily Camera Article: CU-Boulder offers taste of research science to community college students read more

RECCS Newsletters




Keep up to date on opportunities and news from CIRES Education & Outreach