Frequently Asked Questions : For Faculty
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- What kind of things can I have a student help me with?
- How do I get started?
- What is my role as a mentor?
- What is work study, and how can I hire a work-study
- I have grant money, and I want to hire a student to help
me with my research. What do I need to do?
- What is an appropriate “rate of pay” for student
- How can I advertise the opportunities that I have for
- I don’t have grant money, but I want to get students
involved. What can I do?
- How can students get academic credit?
- What external programs are available to pay for student
- How are students selected for these programs?
- How are students paid in these programs?
- I am looking for an opportunity for my student to present
her/his research. What opportunities are available?
- I would like to take my student to a professional
conference in our academic discipline. What sources of funding
- My student has published a paper or is making a
presentation at a professional meeting. I want to make sure he/she
gets recognition on campus. What can I do?
- I have an NSF grant. How can I get an undergraduate
- I have an NIH grant. How can I get an undergraduate
- What is CUR?
- What is NCUR?
What kind of things can I have a student help
There is no hard and fast rule on what students can or can not do.
However, the purpose of this program is to engage students in the
research process. We encourage students to actively apply the
knowledge gained in the classroom and become meaningful
participants and contributors to scholarly work. While these
students can certainly assist with support tasks such as washing
dishware, making solutions, caring for animals, finding and copying
articles, filing, entering data, etc. as these are part of the
research process, their primary activity should be engaging in
How do I get started?
If you have an opportunity for an undergraduate in your research,
please contact us. We will help you post the opportunity on our
website and assist in finding a student who will fit your needs and
requirements. Other options for finding a student include: posting
flyers in the hallways of buildings where students you would like
to hire frequent, ask colleagues to make an announcement in
appropriate courses, contact former students directly.
The Office of Undergraduate Research would like to know about all
students engaged in undergraduate research so that we can recognize
our hard-working faculty mentors and their students and to ensure
that opportunities for presentations and awards are made available
to all that are interested. If you have a student involved in your
research, please let us know about it.
Tell us about
What is my role as a mentor?
Successful mentorships position students to become active
contributors to the knowledge/artistic pool and to become excellent
- Be sure the research assignment is realistic when considering
the past course work and experience of the student. The student
may become frustrated and quit for the wrong reason.
- Familiarize the student with specific protocols of your work
such as (1) specific rules such as library usage guidelines,
proper use and maintenance of equipment, care and use of animals
or human subjects, etc. (2) your laboratory safety plan, (3) your
methods for data entry and what to do if a methodological error
has occurred, (4) who to turn to if you are not around, (5) what
general authority your graduate students have in co-mentoring the
student’s research, etc.
- We recommend defining a contractual agreement that includes
time requirements, expectations of performance in a timely way,
expected fate of the work (to be published alone or with the
mentor; senior thesis; poster presentation and a paper), etc.
more information see Learning contracts.
- If you accept a first year student into your research program
remember that the student is only 2-3 months out of high school;
be careful with expectations of the time commitment and
background knowledge. Some mentors prefer new students because
they want the student to be involved for four years; other
mentors seek out only juniors or seniors.
- Instill research ethics by example…early.
- Show your student what you do (from grant writing to editing
of journal proofs) and introduce them to your career. If possible
include your student in the various activities within the
discipline, such as weekly departmental seminars, socials, even
regional or national meetings. Introduce the student to
colleagues and help them obtain a concept of “career” that goes
beyond the office/lab/library/studio. Treat them like new
graduate students/career employees.
- By all means tell them why you love your work! This is how
undergraduates fall in love with both the research discipline and
- Be a role model for the next generation of scholars/artisans.
- Graduate students make excellent mentors and the experience
they get while doing so prepares them for mentorship roles
following their graduation. We ask that faculty retain the key
responsibility in establishing the role the graduate student will
have with the student and that sufficient oversight is made to
assure a beneficial partnership between the undergraduate and the
- Build respect through praise of good work and constructive
suggestions for improvement.
- Meet on a neutral playing field from time to time, i.e., not
always in your office/lab/studio.
- Have weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings; this eliminates
surprises and stress. The meetings can be as short as 10 minutes
or longer as needed. Be a good listener and share your own
discoveries, frequently. Establish realistic deadlines for units
- Help prepare students for their future oral or poster
presentations, such as Discovery Day by including them in your
own preparation of materials (software used, layout design,
special guidelines). Recommend our website’s links for how to
prepare a poster presentation.
- Be sure to volunteer to the student that you wish to write
letters of recommendation for employment, scholarships, national
fellowship competitions, and admission to advanced degree
- Keep in touch when it’s all over. If you’ve done your job
well, keeping in touch will be a pleasure.
What is work study,
and how can I hire a work-study student?
The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program provides funds for part-time
jobs which allow students to earn money needed to pay for
educational expenses. Work-Study awards are a form of federal
financial aid. Before your student can begin a work-study job on
campus, you must contact the Financial Aid Office.
The amount of money a student may earn through work-study is fixed.
Once a student has earned this amount, he/she must stop working
unless you can supplement this or extend the money through your own
funds. It is important to plan the student’s work schedule at the
beginning of each term to figure out how long it will take to earn
the total award. The formula is: Work-Study Award Amount / Hourly
Pay Rate / # Weeks in term = Hours per week.
I have grant money, and I want to hire a
student to help me with my research. What do I need to do?
Part-time students are hired directly by the faculty member. The
student's payroll will be processed by the faculty member's
department fiscal/payroll office. Once you have identified the
student you wish to hire, you need to contact your fiscal staff
member in your unit (the person that handles payroll and/or grant
funds in your department) and let him/her know the name of the
student, his/her Social Security number, rate of pay, if paid
hourly or by stipend, number of hours per week, and the account
number. Your fiscal staff member will then need to get a variety of
payroll papers filled out by the student (i.e., W-4, I-9
documentation, direct deposit forms, etc.), or request that these
papers be transferred from the student’s previous campus employer.
Your fiscal staff member will also inform the student how and when
to complete ITAMS. Don’t forget to notify your fiscal staff member
when you have “terminated” the student’s employment with you (at
the end of the semester, upon graduation, at the end of the
What is an appropriate “rate of pay” for student
The hourly wage is set by the faculty member in conjunction with
campus guidelines available from your department fiscal/payroll
office. You are encouraged to contact your fiscal staff member to
find out what an average rate of pay is for your department. He/she
also will have recommended job levels and rates of pay, based on
the level of work performed, needed expertise and independence of
How can I advertise the opportunities that I have for students?
- Contact the Office of Undergraduate Research directly (by
phone or e-mail) and we would be happy to advertise this
opportunity to interested students through the research database
and student research listserv.
- Post flyers in the hallways of buildings where students you
would like to hire frequent.
- Ask colleagues to make an announcement in appropriate
- Contact former students directly
I don’t have grant money, but I want to get
students involved. What can I do?
Many students are looking for the EXPERIENCE, and pay is not their
There are a number of funding programs to support undergraduate research. A short description with links for our on-campus programs can be found HERE under Funding Programs. A few off-campus sources may fund research performed on-campus but most support students to do research elsewhere. A listing of outside funding resources can be found HERE. We also strongly recommend that students contact the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs to learn about the many national resources available. Some of these programs fund research opportunities here and abroad, such as the Goldwater Scholarship for sophomore and junior students pursuing a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering and intending to earn a graduate degree in these fields and pursue a career in research and/or college level teaching.
If your student is eligible for financial aid, the Federal
Work-Study (FWS) Program provides funds for part-time jobs which
allow students to earn money needed to pay for educational
expenses, please contact the Financial Aid office for more
Another option is for the students to participate in your
research as an independent study course where the student
receives credit for their work. The student should check with
their major department for requirements and to determine which
course number and for how many hours they should register.
If you don’t have a particular student in mind, OUR can help you
advertise. Email OUR
How can students get academic credit?
Students may register for academic credit with approval from the
appropriate department. Students should check with their major
department for requirements and to determine which course number
and for how many hours they should register. Students typically
will register for three hours of research credit during the
semester if they are spending 12-15 hours/week on their own
project. Students enrolled in the Honors College may wish to check
into special course numbers through the Honors College. Students
also should be encouraged to talk with their academic advisor to
determine if their undergraduate research credit will fulfill
particular degree requirements. Typically, the faculty member
supervising the student provides the grade to the department for
the course the student is enrolled in at the end of the semester.
What external programs are available to pay for
A list of funded programs can be found
How are students selected for these programs?
Most of these programs require students to identify a faculty
mentor and a project PRIOR to the application deadline. The student
and faculty mentor should discuss potential projects and work to
refine the project proposal several months in advance of the
application deadline. Selection also is usually based on the
student’s academic record, personal statement, letters of
recommendation and career interests. It is important to note that
applications are STUDENT applications, not faculty applications.
How are students paid in these programs?
Most programs administer stipend payments on a regular basis (i.e.
$2,000 paid in four installments during the academic year).
I am looking for an opportunity for my
student to present her/his research. What opportunities are
Discovery Day is USC’s opportunity for undergraduates to present
their research. To find out more about Discovery Day,
click here. In addition,
there are a number of discipline specific “research days” on
campus. The Office of Undergraduate Research will periodically need
undergraduates to present or discuss their research to visiting
VIPs, at open houses, or to prospective students. If your student
is looking for additional opportunities to share their work and
would be a good ambassador for USC, contact the Office of
Undergraduate Research to put his/her name on a list of potential
The South Carolina Academy of Science invites research papers for
its Annual Meeting from all scientific and mathematical
disciplines. The Academy also invites papers regarding education
and teaching in science and mathematics. The papers may be 15
minute oral presentations, including question and answer time, or
may be in poster format. Oral presentations are eligible for
various awards. Their annual meeting is held in the Spring, usually
in March or April and abstracts must be submitted before the end of
January. For more information, visit http://www.scacadscience.org/.
Two national organizations also exist for student presentations.
The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) holds an annual
"Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill" event in late March or
April for students in scientific and mathematical disciplines.
Sixty competitively selected student posters are displayed on the
U.S. Capitol during a late afternoon reception. In the morning of
the same day, there is an orientation session, followed by visits
from students and their faculty mentors to their Representatives
and Senators' offices. To learn more visit
contact us. The National
Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) hosts a three-day
annual conference. This gathering welcomes presenters from all
institutions of higher learning, from all corners of the academic
curriculum, and draws more than 2,500 undergraduates, faculty, and
administrators to hear and discuss undergraduate creative and
scholarly work by means of the following:
In addition, NCUR presents an opportunity to hear nationally
prominent speakers and to discuss educational policy, programs,
and funding for undergraduate scholarly work. To learn more
visit www.ncur.org or
- Topical sessions of 15-minute oral presentations
- Interdisciplinary poster sessions
- Artistic performances and visual art exhibits
I would like to take my student to a
professional conference in our academic discipline. What
sources of funding are available?
Many professional societies and meetings provide reduced
registration rates for students or student travel awards. Check
with your professional organization or meeting coordinators
first. Undergraduate research fellowship recipients can use a
portion of their award for conference travel stipend –
contact OUR for more information.
The Honors College also has some funds available for their
students. Faculty may also wish to check with their dean’s
office to inquire about additional funding opportunities.
My student has published a paper or is
making a presentation at a professional meeting. I want to make
sure he gets recognition on campus. What can I do?
Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research. We will
make sure that the student completes a form so that we can use
this information within the university and also send this to
their local newspaper. Other USC offices and staff members who
can use this information will be notified, as well.
Link to Tell us about your
I have an NSF grant. How can I get an
Check out the NSF web site for details on the Research Experiences
for Undergraduates (REU) program. You also are encouraged to
contact your program director. Undergraduate supplement requests
are reviewed as they are received. There is no specific deadline.
I have an NIH grant. How can I get an
NIH provides supplements for minority undergraduates and
undergraduates with disabilities. The NIH web site (www.nih.gov)
provides details on NIH undergraduate supplements. You are also
encouraged to contact your program director. It takes 8-10 weeks
for undergraduate supplements to be reviewed. There is no specific
What is CUR?
CUR stands for the Council on Undergraduate Research and is a
professional organization/network that aims to support and promote
high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research
and scholarship. CUR provides publications, sponsors conferences
and workshops, and provides leadership related to involving
undergraduates and faculty in shared research experiences. For more
information, visit the web site at www.cur.org. CUR actively seeks
individual memberships from faculty and administrators interested
in the benefits of undergraduate research.
What is NCUR?
The mission of the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
is to promote undergraduate research scholarship and creative
activity done in partnership with faculty or other mentors as a
vital component of higher education. This is accomplished through
the sponsorship of a 3-day annual conference open to all
undergraduates from all disciplines; publication of the proceedings
of its conferences; establishment of a national network of faculty,
students, administrators and others who are interested in
developing and strengthening programs devoted to such activities;
assisting in the planning and evaluation of undergraduate research
programs; and special projects on issues relating to the goals of
the association. For more information, visit the web site at
Much of this information was gathered with
permission from the University of Missouri-Columbia and North
Carolina State University Office of Undergraduate Research.