Undergraduate Research Assistantships

What are Undergraduate Research Assistantships?

  • Part-time campus jobs working with faculty members in their labs or research projects
  • Hands-on research opportunities for students in all disciplines
  • A chance to pursue research milestones such as conference presentations and publications
  • A community of approximately 100 students each academic year

How it Works:

The Office of Engaged Learning provides matching funds to a department, school, or research grant. We also match selected SMU scholarships, including Hamilton and McNair.

Students are hired by academic departments to work with faculty members on research projects.

  • URAs (Fall & Spring semesters) work up to 10 hours a week, at wages up to $15.00 per hour.

  • All URAs and submit a final report (see below). 

For Summer opportunities, see our new Summer Research Intensive.

How Do I Apply?


  • For the URA (Fall and Spring semesters), the priority deadline is September 1.

  • NOTE: For Summer 2021, Summer Research Assistants (SRA) are chosen by faculty members who have been accepted to the Summer Research Intensive program. Student hiring will occur in May. Details to come.

1. Find a mentor:

If you need help finding a faculty mentor, check out Handshake or our Mustang Mentors program. A Letter of Recommendation is not required. The faculty mentor will confirm the hire (including hourly rate and funding source) on our Docusign form (see below).

2. Write a brief proposal (ca. 250 words)

  • Title

  • Motivation behind the research

  • Background information about the broader context of the research in the chosen field

  • Methodology, technique, or practice needed in the research

  • Description of specific research/tasks to be carried out by the student

  • How the student will benefit from performing research


Selection and hiring

A panel of SMU faculty will review the submitted applications. If selected, the Office of Engaged Learning will send a Docusign to the Faculty Mentor, URA, and Department Administrator. On the Docusign, the Faculty Mentor will enter the hourly rate and funding information. The Department Administrator will then complete the hiring forms in My.SMU. (Link to Docusign template). Students may not begin work until the Hire forms are completed and approved in My.SMU.


Undergraduate Research Assistants are expected to complete an online Reflection form at the end of each semester, and a Research Report at the end of Spring* and Summer. Report guidelines.

*Fall URA reports are required only for URAs not continuing in the spring. If you are a URA for both Fall and Spring, submit one (1) report by May 15.