Project Manager: Andrus Ashoo, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

USOAR Federal Work Study Research Program is a program that matches first-, second- and transfer undergraduate students with faculty mentors, giving them the opportunity to work in prominent UVA research labs.

BoV Approved: September 2016

Project Dates: 10/19/2016 – 10/18/2021

Total Funding: $559,500

Executive Summary

USOAR is a program that matches 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. Students spend 5-10 hours per week during the academic year working with their faculty supervisor in research-related tasks or projects. USOAR strives to not only introduce students to the enriching experiences surrounding research, but also provide students with the chance to build strong relationships with faculty. Modeled in part on UROP at the University of Michigan, USOAR grew out of a pilot project developed in 2013 by the Provost's Office and Student Financial Services, at the request of UVA President Teresa Sullivan, who sought to increase scholarly paid work opportunities for undergraduate students. The USOAR program seeks to attract students with financial need and from underrepresented populations and provide them with a path into research.

Current Status: Completed


The USOAR program creates a point of entry into academic research for first-year, second-year, and transfer students with a demonstrated financial need. All students who apply for the USOAR program qualify for Federal Work Study and have not had a significant research experience at the time of application. Students admitted into the program are provided structure, support, and guidance through a year-long, one-hour seminar course to facilitate their first significant research experience with a faculty mentor. Many students elect to continue in the USOAR program beyond their first year, conduct independent research elsewhere at and beyond UVA, pursue graduate degrees, and receive competitive grants and fellowships. 

USOAR has achieved and surpassed almost all its aims while adapting to the challenges of the pandemic, the needs of the students, and the best ways to complement the work of the faculty, who form a vital partnership. Students are exposed to undergraduate research and creative inquiry much earlier, even if they do not participate in USOAR, and most recently we have revised the course component of USOAR to achieve better learning outcomes. 

However, the most important development is that we have secured permanent funding to our annual budget to continue to run the USOAR program. In addition, we have continued to fundraise for USOAR as it has attracted the interest of several donors. One has committed to establishing an endowment for the program as part of his estate plan and has already started to contribute to that fund, another has named USOAR as a beneficiary for her retirement, and other one-time donations from alumni have been received as well. The program has therefore already been sustained for the foreseeable future. We are thankful for the role of the SIF funding in getting this off the ground.