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About Student Research

Student Research with Faculty

Undergraduate students may work with faculty members as part of a(n)

  • Unpaid internship
  • Independent study course for academic credit
  • Paid research assistant position

Laws about Unpaid, Not-for-Credit Student Researchers 

The laws that govern volunteering permit full-time, currently enrolled students or a student who is between programs (as long as no more than six months has elapsed between the end of one program and the start of the next) to accept an unpaid, un-credited research position if the experience is primarily for the educational benefit of the student. The position may be conducted as an in-person experience, remotely or virtually. A faculty member who is unclear about whether a plan for a research experience meets the standards outlined below should consult the Office of the Dean of Arts, Sciences and Engineering.

Student Classifications

The following chart provides an outline for faculty to identify which student classification best fits their needs and the operations of the department, as well as the needs of students. Students may transition from one classification to another over time; however, students may not receive pay and course credit simultaneously per university policy.

Student Classification

Faculty Responsibility 
and Guidelines

Limitations and Considerations

Research for pay (“Research Assistant”)

This classification requires:

  • Supervision
  • Provision of a specific job description through JobLink and regular performance evaluations
  • Agreement upon a schedule and terms of employment

Research for course credit
(“Independent Study”)

This classification requires:

  • Student completion of an online Independent Study Form
  • Supervision by a full-time member of the teaching faculty
  • Co-creation of a project description, learning outcomes, and assessment criteria
  • Provision of a course grade

Research as an unpaid intern

This classification requires:

  • Unpaid internships must have a defined beginning and end, but may be re-registered through SMD or River Campus every six months.
  • Unpaid, uncredited experiences are permitted, but must be primarily for the educational benefit of the student.