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Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR) Program

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

USOAR Overview

The UVA Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR) Program targets rising first-year, second-year, and transfer undergraduate students who qualify for Federal Work Study and do not have previous significant experience in research*. USOAR introduces students to the enriching experiences surrounding research and provides them with the chance to build strong relationships with faculty through a paid research position. Students apply for a research position with a particular faculty member who will oversee their progress throughout the course of the year. Students will spend 5-10 hours per week working with their faculty supervisor in research-related tasks or projects during the fall and spring semesters. USOAR offers research opportunities from faculty representing all of the schools and colleges at UVA.

*Significant experience in research is defined by a research experience, other than writing an academic paper as part of a course or participating in a laboratory-based course, under a faculty member's supervision or participating directly in a faculty member's research activities, whether at UVA or elsewhere.

Who may apply?

Rising first-year, second-year, and transfer undergraduate students who are enrolled at UVA for 2024-25 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 and identify up to 3 positions that interest you. Do not contact the faculty directly.
  • Create your resume (see Helpful Materials below).
  • Prepare a statement of interest (500 words maximum) addressed to the faculty mentor for each position for which you wish to apply. This statement allows you to introduce yourself to faculty mentor/s and should convey your background and motivation for wanting to do research. You should also discuss the impact you think doing research will have on your future and express your interest in the position and your qualifications and skills.
  • 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 an online application that will open at the end of May. Applications are due by 11:59pm on July 31. 

2024 - 25 USOAR Timeline

  • May 31 - Application Opens
  • July 31 - Application Deadline
  • August 1-9 – Interviews of applicants by faculty (please note that interviews are not required and not all faculty perform interviews)
  • August 14 – USOAR student selections sent (this is the date by which you will learn your status)
  • Week of September 9 - UNST 2810 course begins

2024 - 2025 Positions

Projects listed below are categorized into broad disciplines. These are the categories for the student role, not necessarily the project itself. For example, a project examining curriculum for civil engineering graduate students is categorized here as social science rather than engineering - while the project studies engineers and engineering curriculum, the student role will be more focused on qualitative data collection and analysis. We encourage you to explore roles that you may not initially think fit within your exact discipline - you never know what you might find fits your interests and skillsets!

Positions will be posted starting May 31 and may continue to be added through the month of June.

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 including presenting at the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring. 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 section times after being selected for the program.

NB: USOAR students may not request that their UNST instructor sign the Credit Hour Overload Request to enroll in a UNST 2810 course for the fall. 

Helpful Materials

  • Information on Federal Work Study at UVA is available through this link. Please note that the USOAR program and other FWS positions are only available during the academic year and not during the summer. 
  • 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!