General FAQs

Undergraduate research experiences promote student engagement in ways that traditional classroom instruction cannot. Engaging in undergraduate research or creative work with a faculty mentor can help students build confidence, develop problem-solving skills, refine career interests, and facilitate important connections for graduate school or employment after graduation. Many undergraduate researchers become experts in a topic they are interested in, make valuable connections with faculty members, and gain leadership experience. Students often get paid for their time doing research and sometimes travel to collect data and/or present their work.

Yes! There are several ways to learn more about how to get started in research during your first year. You can start by visiting this webpage, attend our Research Ready workshop, or swing by drop-in advising. First (and second) year students and transfer students in their first year at OSU are eligible to participate in the URSA Engage Program

Yes, many students who engage in undergraduate research are paid! However, whether you are paid (and the way in which you are paid) are specific to each research program and faculty mentor. Some organized undergraduate research programs give students one-time financial awards. Some faculty mentors formally hire students as OSU hourly employees. Some mentors expect that a student will volunteer on their research team for a certain amount of time before receiving pay to ensure the student is committed.

We recognize that many students cannot afford to work without pay and encourage students to advocate for themselves and communicate with their faculty mentors about their needs. Attend drop-in advising hours if you’d like help navigating this conversation with your mentor!

If your mentor is unable to pay you, you could offer to work with your faculty mentor to apply for funding sources. You should also let your mentor know if you could be hired through the Federal Work-Study Program. Many faculty members are surprised to know that 75% of the student’s pay would be provided through Work-Study dollars, leaving the faculty mentor responsible for only 25% of the student’s pay. More information about how to use Work-Study to fund undergraduate research can be found here (info for students) and here (info for mentors).

Yes! Doing undergraduate research in a discipline that is different from your academic major is a great way to explore career pathways you are curious about and learn about a new topic without having to change your major. 

Lab meetings take different forms depending on how your mentor likes to structure them. In many cases, all available members of a research team (e.g. undergraduate researchers, graduate students, post-docs, faculty mentor) attend these meetings. They usually occur weekly. It is common for the attendees to go around the room and take turns updating each other on what they have been working on over the past week. These regular meetings serve as a space for everyone to communicate about the progress being made, to ask each other for feedback, and to inform the research team members about big updates (e.g. upcoming research presentations, safety trainings, dissertation defenses, etc.).

Research is for everyone! The wonderful thing about undergraduate research is that it is extremely versatile and flexible, allowing you to decide exactly when you want to get started. Some students start as early as their first term at OSU! 

Undergraduates at OSU can present their research at two on-campus events each year: Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) in spring and the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium at the end of summer. These are excellent opportunities to develop communication skills, network with other students and faculty, and gain confidence when speaking about one's scholarly work. 

Students also present at other symposia or conferences outside of OSU (sometimes internationally!). Click here for a list of other conferences that you may want to present at.

If the graduate program you’re applying for is a research-based program, then it’s very likely that previous experience in research will be expected. This may not be the case for all graduate programs, but having research experience can strengthen your CV, provide connections for letters of recommendation, and increase your chances to obtain a research position in graduate school.

Start exploring the types of research being done at OSU and think about how they align with your interests. Visiting resource fairs, events, workshops, and your professor’s office hours are all great options for networking and exploring the research happening within each college at OSU. You should also check out our list of organized undergraduate research programs to see if there are any you might be interested in applying for.

Find a system for organizing your responsibilities that works for you! One great way to organize meetings, courses, research hours, and deadlines is using your Google calendar. Block off chunks of time in your calendar for your research hours and meetings. Make sure to block off certain hours each day to get homework or projects done as well!

Your mentor should understand that coursework comes first. If coursework is getting stressful, reach out to your mentor, and explain the situation. Hopefully, you can work together to plan for when you will get caught up on the research tasks you’ve committed to completing. The most important thing is maintaining open communication with your mentor.

One of the most important aspects of a successful research experience is maintaining clear and open communication with your research mentor. It is important to ask questions if you are unsure about something and let your mentor know if something is on your mind.

You are also much more likely to be successful in research when you enjoy the work you are doing and are genuinely interested in the topic! Pick a topic you want to learn more about. If you find out you don't enjoy the topic, you can always try something else. Either way, it's a great learning experience!

Many faculty mentors do not expect undergraduates to have prior research experience when joining a new research team. Most of the faculty mentors we’ve talked with say they are simply looking for students who are self-motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic, positive, and are sincerely interested in the topic. They also appreciate it when students are easy to work with and eager to learn new things. You can be all of those things without having previous research experience!


You will likely connect with a mentor the same way that everyone else does! Click here for information on how to get started. The only difference is that once you meet with a potential mentor, you will want to let them know that you are looking for an honors thesis project. That way, the mentor will know you are committed to a long-term project and they will be able to help you brainstorm ideas for a project that will be suitable for the honors thesis requirement.

If you aren’t able to join the research team you wanted, it is most likely because the mentor you reached out to does not have the available time or resources to mentor an additional student. Don’t get discouraged! You are building resilience and finding a mentor will be easier the second time! There are many amazing mentors at OSU. Reach out to someone new and visit us at our drop-in advising if you want support!

You can find the OSU branded PowerPoint and poster templates here

However, you can also follow these instructions to get to the templates as well: go to the URSA main page > hover over the “Resources” tab > click on “For Students” >  scroll down to where it says “Stage 3: Disseminate Your Work” > click on “recorded and poster presentation examples here”. In the “recorded and poster presentation examples here” link you will find the templates to the OSU branded PowerPoint and poster templates to download.

Student Work Study FAQs

In order to qualify for Work Study, you must have completed your FAFSA. If you are selected to receive Work Study, it will appear as part of your OSU financial aid package. To review this package, go to, then click the tab that says “Paying for College.” Within this tab, you will find your financial aid award letter which will indicate whether or not you have received a Work Study award. OSU typically notifies students about Work Study awards in April. Students who are notified that they will be receiving Work Study in April will be able to use the award the following school year (starting July 1st). This letter will also indicate the number of dollars the student can receive through Work Study.

Your exact wage will depend on the position you are being hired for, but you will be paid at least minimum wage.

You will be paid for your work on an hourly basis through OSU Payroll. Your Work Study award letter will indicate how many dollars you can receive for work completed through the Work Study program. Keep in mind that OSU restricts your combined work schedule to 20 hours a week when enrolled as a full-time student.

The first step is to communicate to your faculty mentor that you are receiving Work Study as part of your financial aid award. You can advise them to read the Faculty Work Study FAQs section for more information about how to hire you through the Work Study program. In some cases, this may even increase your chances of getting paid to conduct research since the cost to the faculty mentor is greatly reduced.

Faculty Work Study FAQs

The first step is to contact your business center to set up a new student employment posting. When creating this posting, you can choose whether you want the posting to be either “competitive” (meaning it is open to both Work Study and non-Work Study students) or have it open to Work Study students only. If you choose to create a position for Work Study students only, you can email all of the students in your class/department/college and advertise that you are interested in hiring a student who qualifies for work study. It is important that students self-identify as Work-Study-eligible to maintain confidentiality.

A Work Study student will be told how many Work Study dollars they can receive. You and your Work Study student will need to monitor how many hours the student can work with you through the Work Study program. This is critical because when their Work Study award runs out, you will be responsible for paying 100% of their wage instead of the 25% you are paying in combination with their Work Study award.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a student’s award letter says they will receive $3000 through Work Study and you are hiring them as a student researcher for $11/hr. You will pay the student $2.75 per hour and the other $8.25 per hour will be paid from the student’s Work Study award. This means the student’s total $3000 Work Study award will last for 364 hours ($3000 divided by $8.25). Once those 364 have been worked, you will be responsible for 100% of the student’s wage. If the student has multiple campus jobs, each job will be pulling from their total Work Study award so it will be critical to communicate with the student about how many hours they have left across all of their campus jobs. Employers will be notified when a student’s Work Study hours have ended since the amount you will be paying the student will increase. However, the notification may come after the Work Study award has maxed out so it’s important to communicate in advance about the number of hours the student has left.

While this may have happened in the past, there are new OSU policies in place as of December 2018 that should prevent this from happening in the future. If you hire a student who has received and accepted Work Study (and has maintained their eligibility), they will automatically be paid through Work Study when hired. In other words, you may have a Work Study student working in your lab (and you may be paying only 25% of their wage) without even knowing it! You can double check with your business center to find out.

Transcript Notation FAQs

It will vary by major/discipline. In the sciences, it could be a laboratory research project. In the liberal arts, it might be a creative effort in music, visual, or performance arts. In engineering, it might be the design of a novel device for automating a process. In any case, the project must be overseen and approved by an OSU faculty mentor.

Your OSU faculty mentor for the project. The following are eligible to serve as OSU faculty mentors:

  1. Professorial Faculty (Assistant/Associate/Full Professor/Professor of Practice)

  2. Instructors who are engaged in research or creative activities

  3. Professional Faculty who are engaged in research or creative activities

Graduate students and post-doctoral scholars are not eligible to serve as the OSU faculty mentor but may mentor undergraduates seeking the “Research Fellow” or “Arts Fellow” along with the OSU faculty mentors.

Yes, but it must be certified by an OSU faculty mentor as meeting the criteria above.

No. The form along with all required documents and signatures must be submitted by noon on Monday of finals week of the term in which you are graduating. The notation cannot be added after you graduate.

Various options satisfy this requirement. You could present your work at the Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) poster session at OSU in spring term or at the OSU Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. You could also present your work at a symposium or conference organized by an OSU College or Department/School, or regional, national or international conferences. Other options for communicating your work include publishing your work in a professional journal, doing a public performance (e.g. a recital or concert), or defending your thesis.

A “Research Fellow” will be a student who has engaged in activities leading to uncovering new knowledge or applying existing knowledge to solving problems. An “Arts Fellow” will be a student completing a significant creative project in the arts. Creative works may fall under the performance arts (theater, dance, music, etc.), media (video, film), writing, or the visual arts.

Yes, both notations can be awarded to the same student but not for the same project. The student will need to apply for both forms of notation separately.