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.
  • 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 2022-2023 academic year will be due by Sunday, March 6, 2022, at 11:59pm

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 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! 
  • 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 currently in the 2021-2022 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 2022-Spring 2023 academic year. 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
  2. Mentor Reference

Both the student application and the mentor reference are required for students to be considered for funding.  Both forms are due by Sunday, March 6, 2022, at 11:59 pm.

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?