URAP for Faculty or Teaching Post-Doc Applicants


                2020 Summer URAP deadline: Monday, April 20, 2020




URAP applications are written and submitted by Faculty Mentors, not by students. Faculty in any school and at any stage of their career are eligible to apply, but they must be returning to Northwestern the following academic year. Additionally, the program gives preference to faculty who would not otherwise have any ability to hire undergraduate RAs. Senior faculty and faculty in disciplines where RAs can conceivable be funded in other ways (e.g. through REUs or lab accounts) are therefore expected to discuss in detail in their application why they can only fund an RA through URAP. If you have any questions about your eligibility for a URAP grant, please contact URAP Coordinator before you apply.


Eligible Applicants:

  • Full-time Northwestern University teaching faculty
  • Non-tenure track faculty who are teaching this year are eligible, and strongly encouraged to apply, if they will be at Northwestern the following year
  • Teaching postdocs are eligible, and strongly encouraged to apply. Post-docs on two year fellowships can only apply for a Summer or AY URAP in their first year.


Ineligible Applicants: URAP fosters long-term mentoring relationships between faculty and students, therefore faculty are only eligible to apply if they will still be on their campus the academic year after they hold a URAP.

  • Emeritus faculty, faculty retiring or leaving Northwestern the following academic year, single year visiting faculty, and other teaching faculty who will not be at Northwestern next academic year are not eligible to apply
  • Graduate students and non-teaching post-docs are not eligible to apply.


Note: If you are a post-doc or other temporary employee of the university, you may encounter some difficulty logging into our application website because your LDAP University ID lists you as ‘staff’ rather than ‘faculty.’ If you are considering applying, please attempt to log into the site well before the deadline and contact the URAP Coordinator immediately if you have any difficulty, so that we can help you work around this problem. 


What It Is: 

Why: The Office of Undergraduate Research believes that engaging in undergraduate research is a life changing experience for students that teaches them how to think critically and problem solve, and we seek to provide research opportunities to as many students as possible. Since we know that not all students are prepared to conduct independent research, the URAP program is our foundational program and is centered on strong Mentor/Mentee relationships between students and faculty. Faculty train and guide their student RAs, actively helping them develop research skills that will enable them to undertake their own independent research projects (and apply for URG grants) in the future. The application is, therefore, written and submitted by the Faculty Mentor, not by the student RA. 

When the grant has been awarded, Faculty Mentors are responsible for ensuring that all award and payroll paperwork is completed accurately and on time, and for approving the RA’s hours in the university’s timecard system, Kronos. Full details and instructions on post-award paperwork and the payroll/Kronos system are available here.


Who: This program has a limited budget, so we focus on funding in three priority areas. They are:

  1. Students with no prior research experience at all, or no prior research experience in this field. (Check student eligibility here; if you have any questions please contact UROffice@northwestern.edu)
  2. Faculty mentors in fields where it is traditionally difficult for undergraduates to get RA-ships and where faculty traditionally receive less or no funding for RAs (e.g. the humanities, arts, and non-lab/field-based social sciences).
  3. Student and faculty pairings from residential colleges.


Where: It is possible for URAP work to occur remotely, but the review committee seeks to fund strong mentorship plans regardless of whether the work occurs in person or remotely. URAP pays only for hours worked, so funds cannot be used for travel or other research-related expenses. 

URAP funds cannot be used to support research in a country subject to a U.S. Department of State travel warning. If safety issues exist in a research locale not on the Travel Warning List, the proposal must address the steps the Faculty Mentor will take to ensure safety. Any international travel must go through pre-departure requirements of the Office of Global Safety and Security.


When: Assistantships can take place during the academic year or over the summer, but there are separate deadlines for each. 

**Students are limited to one URAP award during their tenure at Northwestern**


Faculty who have been awarded URAP funds but are still looking for a student RA will list advertisements in early November (for academic year projects) and mid-May (for summer projects.) To receive notification of when advertisements have been placed, sign up for the Undergraduate Research Weekly Blast.


How (Application process):

To apply, faculty mentors will submit an application through the URP Application system.


1) For guidance on developing your application and mentorship plan, the following document can help you think about what approaches would work best for you/your student. We do not anticipate that you will need to address all considerations posed; we are trying to provide “food-for-thought” given a variety of mentor/mentee relationships and circumstances.  It also will show you what the review committee will be considering (and why they are asking specific questions). 

    --- FileANNOTATED APPLICATION GUIDE (51.04 KB)PDF icon (1006.35 KB)---

***In light of potential COVID-19 implications for summer, we strongly encourage applications provide context for which portions of the project must be done in person versus which portions can be done remotely. Additional guidance regarding this is highlighted in the annotated application guide.***


The application system sometimes crashes, so we strongly recommend drafting your answers in Word (or something like that). You cannot submit this document in lieu of applying through the URP system, but it can help save us from lost answers if the system crashes (we are trying to get it replaced!).

    --- FileTEMPLATE FOR DRAFTING (43.55 KB) ---

2) Enter your application information on the URP website (<--click here for link)

- For best results, use Firefox.
- Log in with your NetID and Password.
- After log-in, you’ll see a grid with any applications you have submitted.  If you have never used this system, it will be empty.
- Click “Apply” on the left hand side to see the list of programs currently accepting applications.
- Click “OUR: Office of Undergraduate Research.”
- Click on the program title to open the application.

- Save your draft as you go to prevent losing information in event of a system crash

- Access your draft through the link above, finding your application in the grid.

3) Final Submission
When you submit the application (via the button on the left hand side), you will get one of two system responses:

Option 1: Error message that there were some problems with your application. The errors will be highlighted in red; please review and correct them before you resubmit. 

- Option 2: If there are no errors, you will be sent to a survey site. Doing the survey is a requirement to complete the application. It is a short 5 questions survey that helps us continue advocating for funding and make improvements to the process

You will receive an automatically generated email within 15 minutes of your successful submission.

4) Completion of application, if applying with pre-selected student(s). 
If you are applying with a pre-selected student, you will need enter the student's netID during the submission process, which will autopopulate the student's name and email. The student(s) will receive an email within 15 minutes of your application submission (step 4, above) asking them to submit their resume and cover letter. The student(s) will have a maximum of 24 hours after the application deadline to upload their supporting documents, otherwise the application will not be considered for review. 


How (Selection Process): 

Applications are reviewed and ranked by a committee of faculty from across the university. Applications should, therefore, be written with a minimum of jargon and accessible to readers outside your discipline. The committee rates applications according to the following criteria:

  • There is a clear benefit to both the faculty and the student. The student is actively engaged in the research rather than doing mundane tasks like data entry or transcribing.
  • The student does not have prior research experience, or s/he will be learning a new skills/gaining new experience.
  • The application outlines a clear and detailed mentoring plan, discussing how the faculty mentor will help the student develop their research skills.
  • The faculty mentor would not otherwise be able to hire an RA because the field is traditionally underfunded and/or undergraduates are not normally included in the research process: arts, humanities, and non-lab/field-based social sciences.
  • For faculty in the natural sciences, engineering, medical school, or lab/field-based social sciences, the application makes a detailed and compelling case for why no other funding is available to support RAs. If the faculty has hired undergraduate RAs before, the application explains why this particular student cannot be hired from the same funding source.
  • The experience for the student goes beyond the regular curriculum in the discipline.

The final decision on what to fund rests with the faculty committee, not staff at the Office of Undergraduate Research. Approximately 70% of faculty URAP applications are successfully funded. If you would like additional guidelines on how to apply or the level of detail needed in the application, please contact the URAP Coordinator. Faculty who discuss their application with staff at the Office of Undergrad Research ahead of time have a higher success rate! 


Additional Information:

  • We do fund faculty from the natural sciences, engineering, the medical school, and lab/field-based social sciences (psychology, cognitive science, archaeology, etc.). However, the Faculty Mentor must clearly and explicitly demonstrate in their application that there is a specific reason why they cannot use other resources that are commonly available to hire RAs such as REUs, discretionary accounts, lab accounts, and so on.
  • For example, URAP has funded new junior faculty who have not yet applied for major grants and who need RA help while they are setting up their first lab, and faculty who are initiating small, unfunded pilot projects that will later form the basis of a new NSF/NIH application.
  • Students who have existing research experience can be hired through this program, but the application must clearly explain what additional research skills or new research experiences the student will gain. For example, if the student is changing major and does not have experience in their new field they would be a good URAP candidate.
  • Faculty can hire more than one student. In this case the $2000/$3500 award is split between the students. We encourage applications from faculty who have already chosen the student(s) they want to work with. However, if you do not have a particular student identified yet, we will help you find a suitable student by running a search after the grant has been awarded.
  • Two faculty working together on a joint project can apply to receive two grants. The two faculty members each put in their own separate application, but make it clear they will be mentoring the RAs together. If you are interested in doing this please contact the URAP Coordinator ahead of time for more information.


For information on using the application website, see How to Apply. We also strongly encourage faculty to contact the URAP Coordinator if they have questions or would like advice on their application.

What It Isn't: 

The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program is intended to be more than a normal RA-ship. The student is typically younger and has less experience because we aim to fund students who haven’t yet had the opportunity to get involved in research. Likewise the faculty is expected to be an active mentor to the RA, working to actively teach them about research in their field along the lines of an apprenticeship. The RA’s work should involve active participation in the research process, rather than tasks like data-entry or photocopying. In return, the RA is expected to act responsible and efficiently, treating their position as a job rather than coursework. Additionally, we increased the hourly wage to $15/hr so that research could be a viable option for low SES students who might not otherwise consider research. Please be perceptive to higher financial need students when deciding how to place students on funding sources.