Two student researchers taking samples of the water from a stream.

Emerging Scholars Program

The Emerging Scholars Program provides research experiences for low-income students their first year at KU and supports their overall transition to college. Students get paid an hourly wage to work 4-7 hours per week as a research assistant and to participate in professional development workshops.

Application opens: May 16, 2022

Priority Deadline: June 1, 2022

Final Deadline: July 1, 2022

The Emerging Scholars Program provides research experiences for low-income students during their first year at KU and supports their overall transition to college. Students are paid $10/hour to work for a faculty member as a research assistant and participate in monthly professional development activities.

Students are required to have a Federal Work Study award to be eligible for the program, as their wages are paid in part through this award. Emerging Scholars work in departments from all across campus, from history to engineering to the arts. No prior research experience is required, just an interest in research and learning something new! 

Emerging Scholars will: 

  • Work 4-7 hour per week as a research assistant for a professor or research staff member for the fall and spring semesters (August through May). All positions are entry level and do not require previous research experience.
  • Attend paid monthly one-on-one meetings with a peer mentor who was in Emerging Scholars during their first year at KU. This peer mentor will guide you as you develop as a researcher and as you adjust to life in college.
  • Complete paid monthly activities and attend paid monthly professional development sessions through the Center for Undergraduate Research.
  • Maintain consistent and professional communications with their research mentor and the Emerging Scholars Program staff. We expect students to respond to emails or phone calls within 48 hours. 
  • To be eligible to apply, you must be a degree-seeking, first year (freshman or transfer) student who is or will be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours) at KU for the Fall 2023 semester. Students apply for this program the summer before they start at KU.
  • Accept a $2,000 Federal Work-Study (FWS) Award for the upcoming academic year at KU: If you're not sure whether you've accepted an FWS award, you can check your financial aid in Enroll & Pay. If you would like to add Federal Work-Study to your financial aid package, please email Mandy Annas at to determine if you are eligible.

The Center for Undergraduate Research will be able to financially support some of our Emerging Scholars for a 2nd academic year. Student applications for the following academic year typically due in March. 1st Year Emerging Scholars are notified when the 2nd Year application is open.

Details about the Second-Year Program

The program for second-year Emerging Scholars differs a bit from the first year:

  • Potential for more hours & higher pay: Since KU awards larger Federal Work-Study amounts to continuing students, as a second-year Emerging Scholar you will be able to work up to 13 hours per week, earning $12/hour if you have a standard $4,500 award.  These hours may vary somewhat depending on your individual financial aid package. Award amounts that are lower than $4,500 will be taken into consideration for acceptance.
  • No mandatory meetings: Second-year students in Emerging Scholars do not have regular meetings with our Center staff or with other students. We may require you to come meet with us as needs come up. Of course, our staff are always here to help if students have questions! Starting in the 2022-23 academic year, we will begin offering an optional professional development meeting each semester for our 2nd Year Emerging Scholars. 
  • Peer mentors: A small pool of interested second-year Emerging Scholars will be selected to serve as peer mentors for ~5 of their weekly hours of work. Students can also ask their peer mentor how they decided to apply for that role.


Only students who are participants in the First-Year Emerging Scholars Program are eligible to apply for participation in the Second-Year program. 

Participation in Emerging Scholars is contingent upon accepting a Federal Work-Study award for next year. Be sure you have logged into Enroll & Pay and have reviewed and accepted any financial aid you are interested in accepting. The typical Federal Work-Study award for a second-year student is $4,500, however each student's financial aid package is different. Students with the full $4,500 Federal Work-Study award could work up to 13 hours per week during the Fall-Spring of their 2nd academic year at KU. These 13 hours could all be spent doing research or they could be split with 5 hours spent as a peer mentor and 8 hours per week working on research. If your Federal Work-Study award is substantially lower than $4500, you may not be eligible to participate. Regardless, please apply.

Directions for Applying

A complete application for second-year funding includes:

  1. Student Application (The application is closed for the 2022-23 academic year)
  2. Mentor Reference

Both the student application and the mentor reference are required for students to be considered for funding.  Both forms are due in March of each year. Deadlines for the next application cycle will be updated on this webpage. 1st Year Emerging Scholars will be notified when the application period is open.

NOTE: Students who will be employed 100% through their research mentor do not need to fill out this online application for a second year through our office, as they will be employed separately through their research mentor.

Prior to completing these forms, students and mentors should meet to clarify expectations. This discussion should include:

  • The number of hours per week of work the mentor has available. Keep in mind that if the mentor only has a few hours of work per week available, the student will not earn the full $4,500 Federal Work Study award.
  • The number of hours per week the student can manage given their course load and other commitments.
  • The project or tasks that the student will work on. Will this change or stay the same as this year?


For the 2022-2023 academic year, there will be a special cohort of Emerging Scholars that is specifically for incoming transfer students who are interested in biology and mathematics research. Details about this Transfer Scholars Program are slightly different than the regular Emerging Scholars Program, so read below for more details!

Students in the Transfer Scholars Program participate in the typical activities of the regular Emerging Scholars Program, including:

  • Work 4-7 hours per week as a research assistant for a faculty member.
  • Join a community of student scholars and peer mentors.
  • Get support as they transition to their first year at KU.

To be eligible to apply for a position in the Transfer Scholars program, you must be a degree-seeking, transfer student at KU who will have their first semester at KU in the fall 2022 semester. Transfer students are defined as those who are admitted to KU through the Transfer application. Students apply for this program the summer before they start at KU. Current KU students are not eligible.


Students must be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours) at KU for the Fall 2022 semester and must accept a $2,000 Federal Work-Study (FWS) Award for the upcoming academic year at KU: Transfer students will need to inquire if they are eligible for a Federal Work-Study award. They should contact their financial aid counselor or submit a Federal Work-Study Request. More information about the Federal Work-Study award can be found here: Please email Mandy Annas at if you have any questions. 

Review the Transfer Scholar job description here.

If you are selected as a Transfer Scholar, you will work with a professor as a research assistant. Note that since this is the second year of the Transfer Scholars Program, it will take place in a single lab under the direction of Prof. Rob Unckless ( Currently the program can accommodate up to 4 Transfer Scholars who have interest in several aspects of biology but with a focus on genetics and genomics. We hope to expand into additional labs and additional fields in the coming years.

Apply to the Transfer Scholars Program here.

NOTE: August 21, 2022 is priority application deadline for the Transfer Scholars Program. Review of applications will be ongoing until positions are filled.