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About Student Research

Student Research with Faculty

UPDATE for Fall 2020:  Allowed Research Activities for Undergraduate Students as of August 10, 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is committed to providing safe and fulfilling research opportunities for undergraduates as long as they are compliant with all relevant safety restrictions. In the Fall 2020 semester, undergraduate students will be able to register for independent research (395 and other research-related courses) and serve as research assistants. For research conducted in laboratories, the principal investigator must have received approval from their home school to open the lab, and the student must follow all safety protocols outlined in the reopening plan. PIs should add undergraduate research assistants to any relevant safety protocols and research plans, and obtain approval from the appropriate chair or director. For research conducted outside labs, students must follow University social distancing and PPE guidelines for public spaces. Research conducted off-campus may have additional rules or regulations. Supervisors should contact their school dean's office with questions or concerns on specific situations.

Undergraduate students will continue to be able to use Research & Innovation Grants (RIGs) and Humanities RIGs (HRIGs) in Fall 2020 per the rules of these programs and subject to University and AS&E research guidelines.

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

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.

Looking for some help finding an undergraduate research assistant?

Click here to submit a description of the research position to the Office of Undergraduate Research; our office will share your posting with a list of undergraduates who have expressed an interest in finding a research position. Please note: paid research positions must still be posted on JobLink.

Onboarding Protocol

Click here to download our quick-guide to onboarding a student for participation in research.

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.