URAP Faculty Applicants

The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program pairs inexperienced students with faculty who are in need of assistance on their own research projects. In doing so, students who do not have sufficient research experience to design and carry out their own independent project gain first-hand mentored knowledge of research practices in their discipline, while faculty who would not otherwise be able to hire Research Assistants (RAs) get help with their own projects. Faculty can apply with a particular student(s) in mind, or the Office of Undergraduate Research can assist in finding a student for them by running a search. 

If you are a potential student mentee interested in applying to URAP either as a pre-selected student or as a candidate for an open job search, please visit our URAP for Students page! The below information is geared toward faculty mentors. 

THE PROGRAM HAS THREE FUNDING PRIORITIES:

    1. To help students from any discipline who have no prior research experience and are not yet ready to do independent research get training and mentoring in the research methods of their chosen discipline. (*with special emphasis on applications seeking to hire first and second year students for academic year 2020-2021)
    2. To support opportunities in the arts, humanities, journalism, and non-laboratory based social sciences where funding for undergrad research experiences is uncommon. (*if you are a faculty mentor in a lab-based field, please see FAQs below to help frame your application)
    3. To support pairings of residential college faculty and students(*while first and second year students are remote, they are still connected to their initial housing community assignment)

DEADLINES

2020 Academic Year URAP Deadline (AY URAP): Wednesday, October 7, 2020

2021 Summer URAP deadline (SURAP): Monday, April 19, 2021

            Before you submit, please review the Annotated Application Guide for faculty!

COVID19 Impact
Projects must be 100% remote

All applications for Academic Year URAP funding should proactively articulate how the project is feasible in a remote environment. Since we do not know how COVID19 circumstances will continue to evolve throughout Winter/Spring quarters, remote planning should include the entire year. The proposal could leverage methodologies that are feasible remotely or provide an alternative plan if remote adaptions are required.  

$500 honorarium for faculty awardees

Faculty who are awarded this grant will receive $500 in supplemental funding to be used at their discretion, as a thank you for providing meaningful experiences during this uncertain time. 

Temporary emphasis on hiring first and second year mentees

In an effort to provide more opportunities to first and second year students who are still an important part of our campus community, we will temporarily prioritize applications seeking to hire younger students. That is not to say that faculty applications seeking to hire more senior students will not be considered; the faculty review committee will evaluate application’s argument for the candidate selection during the review process.

Hiring two students - $1500 EACH

Faculty who choose to hire two students will not be required to split the award money amongst the students. Each hired student will be eligible to earn the full award amount ($1500)

Legal restrictions on hiring students residing outside the US

Under applicable policy, the University cannot hire someone to work who is outside of the United States at the hiring time. To better accommodate international students not currently in the US, we will extend our hiring window into early January for students returning to campus for Winter quarter. Please note that this will slightly delay the period of time during which the student is able to work, as the student cannot begin working until all hiring paperwork is completed.

Eligibility
Faculty Mentor Eligibility

Eligible Applicants:

  • Full-time Northwestern University teaching faculty
  • Non-tenure track faculty and lecturers who are teaching this year are eligible, and strongly encouraged to apply as long as 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. 

Student Mentee Eligibility

Overall, this program is meant for student mentees with no prior research experience, or no prior experience in the proposed methodologies. If you are not sure if your desired mentee would be eligible on this basis, please consult this Student Eligibility Guide.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are new to research.
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are interested in conducting research in a new field that is significantly different than their previous research.

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Students who are not residing on US soil at time of hire.
  • Seniors graduating in the Spring cannot apply for Summer URAP positions.
  • Seniors graduating early cannot be selected for Academic Year URAP positions (given that most students do not begin working until Winter, and the student needs to be an active undergraduate student to be eligible).
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who have already held a URAP position.
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are prepared to conduct independent research (you should apply for our independent research grants instead!).
  • URAP awardees may NOT simultaneously hold an independent grant during their award tenure.
Application Process
Drafting an application

The Annotated Application Guide can help you think about what approaches would work best for you/your student(s). 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). Faculty can only submit one application per grant cycle (with up to two student mentees), though mentors are welcome to apply each cycle, as long as they still meet eligibility requirements. 

All applications for Academic Year URAP funding should proactively articulate how the project is feasible in a remote environment, since we do not know how COVID19 circumstances continue to evolve throughout Winter/Spring quarters. Additionally, we want these opportunities to be available to as many students as possible.

The application system sometimes crashes, so we strongly recommend drafting your answers in Word (and you can use this Word Template to do so). You cannot submit this document in lieu of applying through the URP system, but it can help save you from lost answers if the system crashes (we are trying to get the system replaced!). The Word draft is also helpful for editing feedback, if you request feedback from an OUR advisor prior to submission.

Submitting an application

Apply through this Application Portal.

  • For best results, use Firefox or Chrome with your VPN on.
  • Log in with your NetID and Password.
  • After log-in, you’ll see a grid with any applications you have submitted, or students who have previously applied and indicated you as sponsor.  If you have never used this system, it will be empty.
  • On the left hand column, click the link that says “URAP grant application.”
  • Copy and paste your application responses from the Word template you used for drafting.

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 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.

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 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.

Application Evaluation

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 the student will clearly be transitioning into a new field with significantly different methodologies than their prior 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. 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! 

FAQS:

Can I get help developing an application?

Certainly! We provide support for students and faculty alike. Contact the URAP Coordinator for assistance in preparing your application. There is also an annotated application guide to help faculty, in addition to available advising. For help developing a mentoring plan, we also recommend you review the Graduate School’s “Best Practices in Mentoring” resource guide.

What if I do not currently have an undergrad in mind to hire?

We can help you! In your application, indicate that you do not have a pre-selected student. This selection will prompt a question asking you to describe your ideal applicant and how you will determine a final candidate from your pool of applicants. After your URAP grant is awarded, we will use the information in your application to create a job description template, which we will send to you to finalize. The job will be posted on this page on our website for two weeks. We ask that faculty mentors consider all applications during this time period; many first and second years have never written a cover letter or resume before, and it takes them some time to get their materials together. You will likely get over 50% of your applications two hours before the deadline. Then, we will send you a list of all applicants, and you will have 1.5-2 weeks to evaluate and make a decision. We will run an eligibility check on your finalists to confirm they are a good fit for the program’s funding goals. You will provide us feedback on all applicants (we will guide you through this!), and we will take care of formally sending decisions through the application portal.

Can a non-teaching postdoc or graduate student serve as a mentor?

Yes, a non-teaching postdoc or graduate student can serve as the primary day-to-day mentor, but they cannot serve as sponsors of the URAP application. Additionally, they should not be the only mentorship the student receives during the grant period. One goal of the URAP program is to help students develop relationships with a mentor who could potentially serve as their URG sponsor in the future. Therefore, since graduate students and postdocs cannot serve as URG sponsors, it is important that the URAP application articulate what the mentoring structure/hierarchy will be, and how the faculty mentor themselves will be involved.

I am in a lab-based field. Can I still apply?

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 state 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, existing grants, 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.
  • Faculty who are initiating small, unfunded pilot projects that will later form the basis of a new NSF/NIH application.
  • Faculty who are funded by grants that explicitly prohibit hiring of undergraduates (please be specific about funding source).

If you do have means to hire the student, we expect you to do so such that our office can focus on creating as many opportunities for students as possible.  There are often a number of resources in these disciplines wherein faculty can fund or subsidize undergraduates.

For example, if you have the means to hire undergraduates using your own funding, hiring students through work-study can be a very affordable option to hire a student. Many undergraduate students are awarded work-study as part of their financial aid package. Work-study money is earned through an hourly wage job on campus, and the hourly wage is 75% subsidized by the government. Therefore, hiring a paid research assistant for 8-10 hours a week for the academic year has total cost of about $875 to you, AND you provide a meaningful opportunity to students. Many work-study research assistants go on to apply for a $3,500 living stipend in summer grant funding through our office to continue working for you! To learn more about the work-study hiring process, or post an available work-study job: Work-Study Information for Employers

Alternatively, you can easily apply for supplemental funding to your existing NSF or NIH funds specifically to fund undergraduates; this work often can be done with a call to your grant administrator, and it often requires a very short proposal with administrative shell; this funding is typically independent of the grant’s main budget, and it can be requested yearly.

 

When can my student begin working? How many hours can they complete?

Academic Year URAP

  • Students can begin working any time after 11/1/2020 IF they have submitted the appropriate payroll paperwork AND the position is visible in Kronos.
  • Students can work more heavily in one quarter than another, pending their course load and agreement with the faculty sponsor.
  • Students can work over breaks, if agreed upon with faculty sponsor.  Work cannot be conducted during exam periods.
  • If they choose to space out the 100 hours, students often work 5-8 hours a week (see funding information above).
  • Students CANNOT work more than 40 hrs/week; whether working for this job alone or in combination with another part-time campus job.
  • Students must complete & log all hours by Thursday, May 27, 2020 (last payroll deadline before Spring Exams begin). Hours must be logged in Kronos AND annotated in a shared Google Sheet to indicate how hours were earned.

Summer URAP

  • Students can begin working any time after 6/13/2021 (first pay period start after Spring Exams end), IF they have submitted the appropriate payroll paperwork AND their timecard is visible in Kronos.
  • Students CANNOT work more than 40 hrs/week; whether working for this job alone or in combination with another part-time campus job.
  • If students choose to evenly space out the hours (and are given the maximum award), it comes to ~25 – 35 hours a week, pending how many weeks of summer they work (see funding information above).
  • Students must complete & log all hours by the last pay period in the fiscal year (August 20, 2021)
How does my student receive payment?

The Office of Undergraduate Research hires students as Temp Employees, and students are paid an hourly wage of $15/hr. Students enter their hours in Kronos to get paid, and the faculty supervisor (or someone they designate) approves hours in Kronos as primary supervisor. Students cannot begin working until their timecard is visible in Kronos; typically the job is visible about a week after all payroll paperwork is submitted. Additional processes to complete payroll paperwork (like applying and receiving a social security number) may delay the potential start date. Full details on you award paperwork, payroll paperwork, and using Kronos to log/approve hours will be provided in your award emails.

I need help with the Kronos timekeeping system.

We will facilitate hiring the student, and we provide an on-boarding workshop for students to guide them through how to use the Kronos system. You or someone you designate will serve as the primary Kronos supervisor, which means you need to approve the student’s hours every two weeks. If you know in advance that you will be unable to approve the student’s hours for an upcoming deadline, you may contact the URAP administrator to request backup approval on your behalf.

All other questions are best asked of the Kronos help desk, as we are not experts in how this system works.

Can a student use this position to earn work-study money? What about academic credit?

If your student mentee is awarded work-study as part of their financial aid package, a URAP position can be used to earn work-study allotment if the student so chooses. This option is only possible during the academic year.

HOWEVER, the average work-study allotment is between $3,000 and $4,000, which comes to about 200-260 hours of work (instead of the original AYURAP 100 hours). Not all faculty mentors may be able to provide that much work. Therefore, you as the faculty must confirm availability of additional hours prior to the student opting to use work-study money. If additional hours are not available, the student may wish to find a different job to earn the full allotment.

Students cannot simultaneously be paid for research assistant work while earning academic credit, so if the student prefers to receive academic credit, the student should apply for a 398/399 independent study. Enrollment in an independent student makes the student eligible to apply for an Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, which provides $1,000 towards research related expenses.

Is there money to help my student present at a conference?

Yes, there is Conference Travel Grant program through our office that funds student presentations at conferences, exhibitions, or jury-selected performances. This grant funds 50% of expenses for student presentations (max $500).

What do I need to do to complete the grant at the end of the term?

The Office of Undergraduate Research will send you a mandatory post-grant survey to complete, and we will need to finalize our record of student hours. If there are any overages, we will bill you for hours beyond the grant limit. 

If you have any success stories to share, please let us know! We’d love to feature your URAP project and mentee (and we love knowing about the impact of our grants! It helps us to advocate for more money in the future!)