Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

The Schar School Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with social science research. Students receive direction and mentorship from willing Schar School faculty who seek to work with undergraduate research assistants. The program matches faculty research projects with undergraduate students who have interests or skills consistent with specific faculty research projects.

2020-2021 Project Descriptions

The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program application for Spring 2022 will be available in November 2020.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR A FULFILLING CAREER

BA in Government and International Politics student Hadiyyah Abdul-Jalaal speaks about how the Schar School's Undergraduate Research Assistant Program helped her discover her interests and the value it will bring in her post-graduate journey.

ADVANCING RESEARCH AND ANALYTIC SKILLS

BA in Public Administration student Aditi Goal shares how a summer research experience gave her the opportunity to help build and analyze Virginia’s legislative policy database.

PURPOSE

The Schar School Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) benefits undergraduate students seeking hands-on experience with social science research and Schar School faculty who seek undergraduate research assistants.  This is a volunteer program. Students and faculty will be matched by common interests. Faculty and students apply for participation in the fall and work together in the spring semester.

Poupuism Nativism Economic Uncertainty cover

"Through the URAP program I saw an opportunity to develop a guided research output that while based on my original ideas, gave the undergraduate students the opportunity to develop research skills and explore theories at a higher level than they would otherwise – very much like introductory PhD student work." Delton Daigle Associate Professor, on his experience with URAP in preparing Populism, Nativism, and Economic Uncertainty (pictured here), coauthored with Joséphine Neulen (former URAP student) and PhD candidate Austin Hofeman

ELIGIBILITY

Any Mason student who is in good standing and a declared major in GVIP or PUAD may apply to the program. Any Schar School faculty person may agree to mentor a URA.

CATEGORIES

Student applicants choose which type of URA experience they seek and apply to specific projects. Faculty-mentors and URAs will make written agreements about category, scope, tasks, meeting frequency, and evaluation.

URA-I

Students earn 1-credit towards their degree (GOVT 399), write a minimum of 5 pages, and agree to work 5-10 hours/week.

URA-II

Students earn 2-credits towards their degree (GOVT 399), write a minimum of 10 pages, and agree to work a minimum of 10 hours/week.

URA-III

Students earn 3-credits towards their degree (GOVT 399), write a minimum of 15 pages, and agree to work 10-15 hours/week.

Work Study

Students who are eligible for Federal Work Study may be able to use the URAP as their spring semester Federal Work Study assignment.

Volunteer

URAs may agree to work with a faculty mentor for no pay or credit.

DEADLINES

  • Oct. 23, 2020: Deadline for faculty to submit requests for URA(s) with descriptions of specific projects and tasks. Interested faculty, complete a form here:  https://forms.gle/vAjPrVzyhvDRnFHd7
  • Oct. 30, 2020: Project descriptions will be made available on our website at schar.gmu.edu/urap/projects
  • Nov. 13, 2020: Deadline for Schar undergraduates to apply to be a URA in Spring 2021. During November/December faculty will review resumes and contact students for interviews.
  • Dec. 18, 2020: Deadline for faculty and students to submit their contract agreements.

RESEARCH FAIR

All students participating in URAP will be required to make a presentation at our annual research fair. Details of the fair are pending due to the changing nature of university policies regarding in-person events, but the event will take place during the last week in April 2021 and will either be a hybrid in-person/virtual event, or entirely virtual, depending on public health concerns at the time.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested students can submit an application to the program here: https://go.gmu.edu/URAPplication

Any Mason student who is in good standing and a declared major in GVIP or PUAD may apply to the program. Any Schar School faculty person may agree to mentor a URA. Student applicants choose which type of URA experience they seek and apply to specific projects. Faculty-mentors and URAs will make written agreements about category, scope, tasks, meeting frequency, and evaluation.

Photo of Van Metre Hall

“Being an RA has been one of the highlights of my time at Mason. Whether it was revising research notes, being introduced to new data-processing programs, or coding both qualitative and quantitative variables, this opportunity gave me the chance to work closely with a Mason professor in discovering what it entails to be a political scientist.” —Nathan Falk, BA in Government and International Politics '15

Photo of Zuri Hodnett, BA in Government and International Politics student

“I was able to expand my knowledge on LGBTQ issues in a global perspective, and how the United States’ attempts to push certain policies spill over into international relations. Not only was I able to expand my knowledge on human rights, but I learned about a key research tool: Zotero. It was my first time using the software and now it is an essential for writing research papers in other courses.” —Zuri Hodnett, BA in Government and International Politics student