Undergraduate Research Assistantships

Undergraduate Research Assistantships (URA) are part-time campus jobs where students work with faculty members in their labs or research projects. The Office of Engaged Learning provides half of the funding for each URA and coordinates Payroll, assessment, and related activities.

What URAs are saying:

  • "Because we are the only people with radio and spectroscopic data for many galaxies, I am the first person to see how the active black hole affects its host galaxy. . .I still have very mini celebrations when I see a galaxy that has a gorgeous rotation and turbulence map."
  • "This project consistently takes knowledge from my major related classes and allows me to apply that knowledge outside of class. And the vice versa in that I can recognize when things I have picked up in the lab are mentioned in class."
  • "We're preparing for publication so it's been exciting to be involved in the writing process. Reflecting on the work done has inspired me to think creatively about the future and the potential for community-engaged research methods."

See below for information about the program:

Info for faculty

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

  • URAs (Fall & Spring semesters) work up to 10 hours a week, at wages up to $15.00 per hour (50% paid by you, 50% paid by us).

  • Up to $1500 is available for each student for the year ($3000 total)

    • This comes to:
      • @ $10/hr = 300 hours per year
      • @ $11/hr = 272 hours
      • @ $12/hr = 250 hours
      • @ $13/hr = 230 hours
      • @ $14/hr = 214 hours
      • @ $15/hr = 200 hours
  • Faculty members may apply to fund up to four (4) URAs at a time

    • Note for Dedman College faculty: since our office subsidizes the wages of Hamilton Scholars, those students will be counted among the four positions

  • Our office coordinates paperwork and payroll for the students

  • All URAs submit a final report and survey

To apply for funding, please visit the link below to complete a Qualtrics form. You may apply for up to 4 lines of funding, and students do not need to be identified at the time of application. If selected, the Office of Engaged Learning will approve the form and complete the hiring forms in My.SMU. Students may not begin work until the Hire forms are completed and approved in My.SMU! 

URA Funding Application

ePAF process

The Office of Engaged Learning will process ePAF hire forms on your behalf, and monitor/approve URA hours.

On each ePAF, the funding provided by the faculty will read as 100%. This is not a mistake! The "URA" job codes will trigger an automatic 50/50 split funding (Federal Work Study codes trigger a similar split). 

Summer funding

For Summer funding, see the Summer Research Intensive. Applications are generally due mid-March.

Recruiting students

Have a research opportunity for an undergraduate student? You can email it to us (engagedlearning@smu.edu) and we will post it on our social media channels. 


Info for students 

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

How do I apply?

URAs are recruited directly by faculty members. Reach out to professors you know, and keep an eye on our Instagram, where we post jobs sent to us.  

What are the requirements?

Undergraduate Research Assistants work on a schedule agreed upon with their faculty mentor/supervisor. URAs are also expected to complete an online Reflection form at the end of each semester, and a Research Report at the end of Spring* and Summer. 

*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.

Report guidelines

Final reports are expected of all URAs and SRAs. This helps ensure that students gain meaningful experience as assistants, and hone their communication skills. Reports should be approximately 750-1000 words.

  • Title of project
  • Introduction: research problem and hypothesis; literature review
  • Method: experimental laboratory work, case studies, field studies, questionnaires, etc.
  • Results found through the stated research method
  • Discussion of the results and future work
  • Include images, diagrams, and graphs, if relevant