Undergraduate Research Assistantships (URA & SRA)

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.
  • SRAs (Summer) work up to 29 hours a week, at wages up to $15.00 per hour.

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

Guidelines and Eligibility

Please review the URA Program Guidelines for more information. If you have further questions, please contact us at engagedlearning@smu.edu.

How Do I Apply?

If you need help finding a faculty mentor, check out Handshake or our Mustang Mentors program.


  • For the URA(Fall and Spring semesters), the priority deadline is September 1.
  • For Summer Research Assistantships (SRA), the priority deadline is May 1.

Two Easy Steps to Apply:

  1. Write a proposal (see below)
  2. Complete the following form:



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


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).

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.

Research Experience Report

 Fall URA report deadline*  December 15
 Spring URA report deadline  May 15
 Summer SRA report deadline   August 15

Final reports are expected of all URAs and SRAs
. This helps ensure that students gain meaningful experience as assistants, and hone their communication skills.

These reports should be written by the student, and students are encouraged to seek editorial comment from their faculty mentor. The reports should be written to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Title
  • Abstract (100-300 words):
    • Summary of the project: who, what, when, where, why
  • Research Paper (750-1000 words (Fall/Spring), 1500-2000 words (Summer))
    • Background information (i.e. "literature review")
    • Motivation: research problem and hypothesis
    • Methodology (ex: experimental laboratory work, case studies, field studies, questionnaires, etc.)
    • Description of the results found through the stated research method
    • Main conclusions based on the results
    • Recommendations for future work
    • Images, diagrams, and graphs, if relevant
  • Reflection (100-250 words (Fall/Spring), 200-500 words (Summer))
    • What the student learned from this experience
    • How the experience will impact their career plans or expectations

Email reports to engagedlearning@smu.edu.

Suitable reports will be referred for possible publication in the Journal of Undergraduate Research (JoUR).

*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.