Research Opportunities through Work Study (ROWS)

Participating in undergraduate research has proven benefits for all students, but greatest positive impact on everything from GPA and graduation rates to how much satisfaction students express in their college education is seen with students from lower-income, first-generation, underrepresented, and non-traditional groups. Ironically, these are precisely the students who are often prevented from participating in research experiences because they need to work to support themselves and often their families.

At USU, we want to change this by making faculty-mentored research more accessible to students who have demonstrated financial need. A collaboration between Career Services and the Office of Research began in 2019, pairing thirty-three Federal Work Study eligible students with research assistantships. The faculty mentors come from diverse departments and colleges, and their projects range from the arts and humanities to education, engineering, and basic and applied sciences.

Undergraduate Research is…

  • An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline 

  • Mentored by a faculty member, post-doc, graduate student, or more advanced undergraduate 

  • An opportunity to gain skills and build your future career 

At USU, Undergraduate Research is…

  • Cross-disciplinary 

  • Creative and innovative
  • Engaged in the university’s mission of learning, discovery, and outreach 

  • Well-integrated into the curriculum and the culture of the university 

  • Generously supported by central, college, departmental, and individual PI funds

How to Get Involved

Steps to get involved as a Student

  1. Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and indicate that you would like to be considered for Federal Work Study (
    • If your parents still claim you on their taxes, you’ll need to work with them. If you are an emancipated minor, over 25, or independent of your parents, you’ll apply on your own.
    • On your FAFSA, make sure you check the box stating your interest in Federal Work Study.
    • Check out the USU Financial Aid page devoted to FAFSA for help on filling out and submitting your application:
    • Each year, Career Services posts a Work-Study timeline; typically, you must submit your FAFSA by April 15 of the prior academic year
  2. You will be notified if you qualify for Federal Work Study.
  3. Once you have an award, you can search for jobs in Aggie Handshake — — most researchers like to hire FWS eligible students, even if they haven’t listed the job as FWS specific; make sure to let any potential employer know that you are eligible. It saves them money, and may tip the decision in your favor.
    • Search for jobs that include “research” in the job description, or better still, ask professors in majors that interest you if they are hiring any research assistants, and don’t forget to mention that you have Federal Work Study eligibility.
  4. As soon as you have been hired, make sure to let us know here in the Office of Research. We’ll add you to our ROWS list and make sure you get first shot at some excellent training opportunities!

To boost your search

  • Sign up for our “Find a Mentor” list, and mention that you have work-study eligibility!
  • Sign up for our Undergraduate Research mailing list, and you’ll receive regular notifications when faculty are looking for assistants.

Many departments and colleges have a listing of research opportunities for students on their websites, too. For more information, visit Career Services, or stop by the Office of Undergraduate Research in Old Main 162.

Get involved as a Mentor

Faculty research mentors are key to the success of this program. We are here to help support you in seeking students and working with them once they are in your employment.

To get started

Post a research assistantship on Aggie Handshake – work with the staff member in your department tasked with creating and approving job postings, and follow these guidelines for writing a job announcement that will be welcoming and inclusive.

  1. Notify the Student Employment Coordinator in Career Services that you are looking for qualified FWS students, and they will help direct them towards your posting.
  2. Fill out a “Find a Student” form on the Office of Research website, and specify that you are looking for FWS qualified students.
  3. Once you have hired a FWS qualified student, let us know at so that we can add you and your student to the contact list for ROWS. They (and you) will be notified of opportunities for undergraduate researchers and their mentors offered on and off campus.

Why go to the trouble of seeking out FWS-eligible research assistants?

Decades of research have proven the efficacy of undergraduate research engagement in increasing student GPA, retention, and graduate-school progression. Recently, a strong trend in the data indicates that these effects are more pronounced for students in the groups at highest risk of dropping out – first-generation, lower-income, underrepresented, and non-traditional students. Eligibility for FWS indicates financial need, and also includes a higher than representative for the general-student-body proportion of students who fall into one or more of these categories.

When you hire a FWS student at $10/hour (for example), your unit (grant, lab, department, college) pays only 25% of their salary ($2.50/hour) up to their maximum award (which varies by student). This makes your research assistantship dollars go a lot further.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I be paid?

This depends on the position and what the standard wage for research assistantships in a particular center, lab, or department is. Most research assistantships start around $10 and go up from there depending on experience. Hours vary, but cannot exceed 20 hours per week (including any other USU employment you may have).

Do I need research experience to get one of these jobs?

In most cases, no. The very purpose of this program is to give you a first experience in research and to make it worth your time. Your main qualifications are your FWS eligible status, your curiosity, and your willingness to learn.

What will I be doing as an undergraduate research employee?

The truth is, you could be doing just about anything from cataloging old photographs in USU’s Special Collections to collecting samples of pollen in Logan Canyon. You might find yourself working in a lab, but you could also be helping a music professor stage an opera or a Special Education PhD student run a behavioral clinic. USU’s undergraduate researchers are found all over USU’s many campuses in Logan and statewide, at extension centers, and in the field.