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Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR)

Student Hector Quijano with associate professor Eileen Cho
Student Hector Quijano with associate professor Eileen Cho

All grants and programs in the Office of Undergraduate Research for the 2020-2021 academic year will not be updated until we receive further guidance and policy from the leadership and associated offices at the University of Virginia. We thank you for your patience.

USOAR Overview

Welcome to the UVA Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Program, otherwise known as USOAR. USOAR is a program that targets rising first-, second- and transfer undergraduate students who do not have previous significant experience in research with a paid research position funded by the Federal Work Study program and the Office of Undergraduate Research. USOAR introduces students to the enriching experiences surrounding research and provides them with the chance to build strong relationships with faculty. It also seeks to attract students with financial need and from underrepresented populations and provide them with a path into research. Students apply for a research position with a particular faculty member who will oversee their progress throughout the course of the semester or year. Some positions also give students the opportunity to work with advanced undergraduate peer mentors and graduate student researchers. Students will spend 5-10 hours per week working with their faculty supervisor in research-related tasks or projects.

When most students think of research at UVA, they often think of research within the sciences. USOAR offers opportunities in the sciences but it also offers research opportunities in the humanities and social sciences including positions with faculty members in Batten, Curry, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Modeled in part on UROP at the University of Michigan, USOAR grew out of pilot project developed in 2013 by the Provost's Office and Student Financial Services, at the request President Sullivan, who sought to increase scholarly paid work opportunities for undergraduate students. Thanks to generous grants from the Jefferson Trust and the Parents Fund, USOAR has continued to expand.

Application: USOAR 2019 Application Link

The 2019 - 2020 Application will open on June 24th and close on August 5th.

Who may apply?

Rising first-year, second-year, and transfer undergraduate students who are enrolled at UVA for 2019-20 and eligible for Federal Work-Study. Ideal applicants will have good time management skills, an ability to work independently as well as with supervision, and some background in and understanding of their area of interest.

How do I apply?

  • Review the position descriptions listed below and identify up to 3 positions that interest you.
  • Create your resume (see Helpful Materials below).
  • Create a statement of interest addressed to the faculty mentor for each position for which you wish to apply.  This statement provides you with an opportunity to introduce yourself to faculty mentor/s. It should convey your background and your motivation for wanting to do research. You should also discuss the impact that you think research will have on your future.  This statement should also express your interest in the position and your qualifications and skills. (500 words maximum).
  • Obtain a PDF copy of your UVA transcript or high school transcript if you are a rising first year (this may be unofficial).
  • Submit all components using the application link above. 

2019- 20 USOAR Timeline

  • June 24th - Applications will open
  • August 5th - Application Deadline
  • August 26th - 30th - Interview of Applicants
  • August 30th - USOAR student selection deadline
  • September 9th - UNST course begins
  • September 30th - Student begins Research Project

2019-20 Positions

Art Architecture




Social Science

Other Requirements

USOAR students will be required to take a one credit course, UNST 2810 – Introduction to Academic Research, during the fall semester and UNST 2811 - Introduction to Academic Research II in the spring semester. This course will supplement student’s research work experience with discussion on research-related issues such as research ethics, meeting faculty expectations, reviewing peer-reviewed literature in different disciplines, designing independent research projects, and other topics related to the program. The time for this course will be announced later this summer. Participants will have a choice of registering for one of six fall section times after being selected for the program.

Helpful Materials

USOAR and University Career Services have put together a list of links to help interested students write their resume and cover letter. Please refer to the links below in order to strengthen the application and prepare for the interview process.

  • A brief overview of the resume writing process that includes examples of different kinds of resumes (including resumes for students who don’t yet have work experience):

  • Advice and tips on interviewing effectively

  • Visit the University Career Services for more helpful resources!

USOAR in the News

African Student’s Past Leads to Research in Water Purification
November 8, 2016 – Growing up in Africa, Kevin Bahati, now a first-year student at the University of Virginia, experienced first-hand the consequences of not having reliable access to clean water.

USOAR Program Hosts Research Symposium
April 13, 2016 - The 2016 Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Symposium took place in Newcomb Hall Ballroom Tuesday, featuring 18 oral presentations and two poster sessions.

USOAR Uses Work-Study to Introduce Undergrads to Research
January 28, 2016 – University of Virginia students have always been resourceful when it comes to balancing their academic careers with hours spent doing paid work around Charlottesville. Now, a growing program based out of UVA’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence is helping combine those two pursuits.


Email or phone 434-924-6082