Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR) Overview

Welcome to the UVA Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Program, otherwise known as USOAR. USOAR is a program that targets rising first-, second- and transfer undergraduate students who do not have previous significant experience in research  with a paid research position funded by the Federal Work Study program and the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. USOAR introduces students to the enriching experiences surrounding research and provides them with the chance to build strong relationships with faculty. It also seeks to attract students with financial need and from underrepresented populations and provide them with a path into research. Students apply for a research position with a particular faculty member who will oversee their progress throughout the course of the semester or year. Some positions also give students the opportunity to work with advanced undergraduate peer mentors and graduate student researchers. Students will spend 5-10 hours per week working with their faculty supervisor in research-related tasks or projects.

When most students think of research at UVA, they often think of research within the sciences. USOAR offers opportunities in the sciences but it also offers research opportunities in the humanities and social sciences. In 2016-17, the USOAR program included positions with faculty members in Batten, Curry, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Modeled in part on UROP at the University of Michigan, USOAR grew out of pilot project developed in 2013 by the Provost's Office and Student Financial Services, at the request President Sullivan, who sought to increase scholarly paid work opportunities for undergraduate students. Thanks to generous grants from the Jefferson Trust, the Parents Fund, USOAR has continued to expand.

Parents Fund Logo



The USOAR application for 2017-18 academic year will open on July 5, 2017. The deadline to submit applications for USOAR 2017-18 is August 7th. Click here to join a mailing list with announcements about the USOAR program: usoar-applicants@virginia.edu

Who may apply?

Rising first-year,second-year, and incoming transfer undergraduate students who are enrolled at UVA for 2017-18 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? (Application opens July 5, 2017)


  • Review the position descriptions listed below and identify up to 3 positions that interest you.
  • Create your resume (see Helpful Materials below).
  • Create a statement of interest addressed to the faculty mentor for each position for which you wish to apply (250 words maximum). This statement will express your interest in the position and your qualifications and skills. (Please see Helpful Materials below for tips on writing cover letters for help with your statement of interest.)
  • Create a personal statement (250 words maximum). This statement provides you with an opportunity to introduce yourself to faculty mentors. It should convey your background and your motivation for wanting to do research. You should also discuss the impact that you think research will have on your future.
  • Obtain a PDF copy of your UVa transcript or high school transcript if you are a rising first year (this may be unofficial).
  • Follow the instructions below to submit your application materials:
  • Go to the UVACollab site link and join the USOAR Collab site. If you do not yet have a UVa computing ID, then email Brian Cullaty at brc7q@virginia.edu to be added to the site.
    On the USOAR Collab site, select the “application” tab from the left navigation. Complete the “USOAR Application.” All materials need to be submitted as PDF documents.

    *Please note: Since we are utilizing a testing function in Collab for an application, you will see testing language. Do not worry, this is an application not a test that is graded!

2017-18 positions

























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. 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 registering for one of two fall section times after being selected for the program.

Helpful Materials

USOAR and University Career Services have put together a list of links to help interested students write their resume and cover letter. Please refer to the links below in order to strengthen the application and prepare for the interview process.

A 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):

A brief guide to the cover letter writing process with examples that will give students a visual of how their cover letter should look and what it should contain:

Advice and tips on interviewing effectively:

Interview Stream: a great tool that allows students to experience an interview and learn how to improve their responses. Students can use Interview Stream to video interview themselves and see how they respond both verbally and non-verbally:

Visit the University Career Services website for more helpful resources!

USOAR in the News

African Student’s Past Leads to Research in Water Purification
November 8, 2016 – Growing up in Africa, Kevin Bahati, now a first-year student at the University of Virginia, experienced first-hand the consequences of not having reliable access to clean water.

USOAR Program Hosts Research Symposium
April 13, 2016 - The 2016 Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research Symposium took place in Newcomb Hall Ballroom Tuesday, featuring 18 oral presentations and two poster sessions.

USOAR Uses Work-Study to Introduce Undergrads to Research
January 28, 2016 – University of Virginia students have always been resourceful when it comes to balancing their academic careers with hours spent doing paid work around Charlottesville. Now, a growing program based out of UVA’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence is helping combine those two pursuits.

Questions? Contact Brian Cullaty at brc7q@virginia.edu or 434-924-3306