Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

OURS designed the Undergraduate Research Assistant program to provide meaningful work-study opportunities to students who may not have the opportunity to engage with non-compensated research activities. By engaging in mentored research and scholarship, students have the potential to experience the transformative nature of research, as well as develop academic and professional skills.

URAs are student research assistants who work 8-10 hours per week for a faculty member performing various research tasks.

 Positions are posted on Handshake through Student Employment. These are paid, work-study positions during the academic year.

About the Award

The award provides research assistants with a paid wage for 8-10 hours of work for one to two semesters. The wage is determined by OURS in consultation with Financial Aid and the faculty supervisor. According to the Student Employment guidelines, URA positions generally fall within Classification 5, Steps A-D.

The URA award is available to all tenure and tenure-track faculty. Preference is given to faculty who have been at GVSU for at least one year and have an interest in building their research in a way that engages undergraduate students. 

Academic Year URA Eligibility: All work-study students are eligible to apply for these positions. URA selection is done primarily by the faculty with approval from OURS. Please note that the URA grant cannot be awarded to support an independent study (499), or an Honors Thesis.

Summer URA Eligibility: All current undergraduate students are eligible for these positions. URA selection is done by the faculty member with approval from OURS. Please note that the grant cannot be awarded to support work for which a student is receiving academic credit (ex: independent study (499), departmental internship, or an Honors Thesis).

Examples of URA Positions

  • Conduct library database searches
  • assist with archival research
  • write annotations and literature reviews
  • transcribe interviews
  • code data
  • DNA extraction
  • plating microbe samples
  • conducting field surveys of vegetation or microhabitat features
  • conducting dilution series
  • mounting and labeling specimens

Proposal Requirements

The proposal must include the following sections and will be reviewed by a faculty committee using this rubric:

  • Project Description: (Limited to 2 pages, 12-point font, double spaced, 1 inch margins). This should include the following:
    • Description of the project – Describe the project the student will be supporting.
    • Significance of the work – Explain the significance of student support in this project. What are the goals for the student’s work? What is the ideal outcome of the student’s work?
    • Timeline – Include a timeline of the project detailing the responsibilities of the student during the project. What are the significant research tasks for the student?
  • Quality of the Student Learning Experience: (Limited to 2 pages, 12-point font, double spaced, 1 inch margins)
    • Student focus – What are the faculty member’s student-centered goals for this project? What pedagogical techniques will the faculty member use to help the student achieve those goals? What specific techniques will be used to supervise the student’s work?
    • Independence – Describe the steps to be taken to allow the student to become a more independent researcher/scholar during the project.
    • Environment – Describe the work space the student will have, if any. Also, note any supplies and resources needed for the student.
    • Position Description - Provide a job description for the position, including required skills, preferred skills, and a brief description of tasks and responsibilities (this will be used to hire for the position). 
  • Letter of Support from Department Chair:
    • Administrative support from the department is required in order to hire the student within the faculty department. As such, support from the Department Chair is required and can be sent in email form to [email protected] or be attached to the application. 


Grantee Responsibilities

The URA program provides faculty with funding for a work-study research assistant. We ask units to hold the position in their office and we will transfer the award directly to your student wages budget toward the end of the semester worked.

Faculty must submit a finalized job description to OURS. Once approved, a position number will need to be created for the position by your department before it can be posted in WorkDay. This will need to be done by your department coordinator. The faculty will interview and hire the students and approve the Ultratime. At the end of each semester of your grant (exam week), the department coordinator should initiate a funds transfer. During the academic year, the award per semester is up to $600. This will cover the semester of work-study wages in Classification 5, Steps A-D.

The URA and faculty supervisor will be expected to participate in program assessment as requested. Additionally, the faculty supervisor will be asked to complete a brief report describing the completed tasks, and how the URA contributed to the research project.


Submit Job Description

*Before posting position/hiring student

Submit Learning Contract

*after hiring undergraduate research assistant

Submit Brief Report

*at completion of the grant


Applications for the 2024-2025 Academic Year are due on Friday, May 24, 2024.

Page last modified May 16, 2024