Here you will find all of the FAQs to help you get involved in research with the Office of Undergraduate Research

General Questions

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. Stop by our drop-in advising hours or send us an email at [email protected] to schedule an appointment. 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 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! 

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 get 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!

URSA Engage Questions

  • Students in the program are expected to engage with their research projects for a total of 75 hours. Typically, we ask that students engage with their research for 5 hrs/week for 15 weeks (starting middle of winter term to the end of spring term).
  • Students are required to meet with their mentor at least once a week, or 2-3 times a quarter if a graduate student or postdoc is available to meet with the student at least once a week. This can be done in person or virtually.
  • Students are required to present their work at either SPS (Spring Poster Symposium) or at FVS (Fall Virtual Symposium).

Faculty Mentor Summaries is a catalog of faculty mentors that are interested in working with URSA Engage students. Potential research projects for students are listed under the faculty mentors name.

Please reach out to faculty members whose research is of interest to you through a contact button provided at the bottom of the summaries. When you meet with them, let them know that you are interested in applying for the URSA Engage Program and that you are looking for a faculty mentor. You are only able to apply for the program once they agree to work with you.

If a faculty mentor is interested in working with you, discuss what potential projects you could work on through URSA Engage and apply before the application deadline in December.

If the faculty mentor is not able to work with you then you can reach out to a different mentor in the catalog. We offer URSA Engage coaching during drop-in advising hours if you would like help reaching out to a new mentor.

Applications are due at the end of Fall term (Usually week 10).

Notification of awards will be sent out in late January.

Don't fret! There are still tons of opportunities for you! You have the option of reaching out on your own to faculty mentors that you are interested in working with and asking if they have additional space for you in their labs. 

Click here for resources on choosing a faculty mentor and email etiquette.

Click here to check out college specific research opportunities.

The stipend will be dispersed in two increments. The first will be sent out during Winter term in the amount of $500. It is sent directly to your student accounts. If you have direct deposit set up and have no balance on your student account, the stipend will be transferred to your bank account. If you do not have your direct deposit set up in your student account, a check will be mailed to you. In the event that you have an outstanding balance on your student account, the URSA Engage funds will be used towards that. You will receive the second amount of $500 in the same manner during Spring term. 

Learn how to set up your direct deposit here.

There is no way for us to determine whether or not a student has been accepted into the URSA Engage program until after all of the applications have been processed in December. There are a few factors that we do specifically consider that help determine an individual students acceptance: 

  • Faculty mentor acceptance and approval of application
  • The quality of the students application (responses to main essay questions found here)
  • The amount of funding we are able to receive from each of the colleges (varies each year)

We do try to get every student into URSA Engage, but acceptance cannot be guaranteed. 

Transcript Notation Questions

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, it must be certified by an OSU faculty mentor per the criteria above, but we do have opportunities for distance learning or remote students. Check out our Ecampus section for more details.

Once you have presented research at CUE, SURS, or another symposium, you qualify to apply for a transcript notation to appear on your official academic transcript. 

After you apply for the Transcript Notation, you will receive a confirmation email from the Office of the Registrar. 

The Transcript Notation will not show on your unofficial transcript but will show on the official copy.

No. The online form along with all required documents and signatures must be submitted by noon on Friday 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 Spring Poster Symposium (SPS) poster session in spring term or at the Fall Virtual Symposium (FVS) during fall term. 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.


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.

  1. Professorial Faculty (Assistant/Associate/Full Professor/Professor of Practice)
  2. Professional Faculty or Instructors who are engaged in research or creative activities.

Presenting Your Research

Undergraduates at OSU can present their research at two on-campus events each year: Spring Poster Symposium (SPS) in spring and the Fall Virtual Symposium (FVS) in fall. These are excellent opportunities to develop communication skills, network with other students and faculty, and gain confidence when speaking about one's scholarly work. 

Yes! This would be an excellent opportunity to branch out with others in your field, learn to communicate with professionals and gain more skills in presenting your work. Follow this link to learn more.

If you are an undergraduate researcher, chances are that you will be communicating your hard work in the form of a research poster. Research posters are designed to summarize information or research, while being concise and attractive to the public. They are essentially an “illustrated abstract.” Follow this link to learn where you can get your poster printed and find resources on poster design and assembly.

A pre-recorded presentation is a concise, oral presentation, either done in person or remotely through video. Pre-recorded talks are 3-minutes or 5-minutes long and are most commonly made using a series of PowerPoint slides. They help you tell a simple story - What motivated your project? What did you do? What did you find? Why does it matter? Here are some helpful tools to help you as you start creating your Pre-Recorded Presentation.

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.

Hiring Students 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.

Navigating EmpCenter

Need help navigating EmpCenter? Visit the EmpCenter training page for user guides and interactive training modules! 

EmpCenter Overviews

EmpCenter Dashboard Overview - Classified Non-exempt, Classified Hourly, and Student/ Temp policy profiles

Employee Timesheet Overview

Policy Profile/Role Training

To find user guides and interactive training modules, select the link for your policy profile or role.

Video Tutorials:

General User Guides:

Office of Undergraduate Research
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