George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Federal Work-Study Research Assistantship (RA) Program

Civil engineering senior Tyler Miesse works with Celso Ferreira, assistant professor, on a project studying how vegetation in coastal marshes can protect communities from waves and flooding.

Are you a faculty/staff member looking for a research assistant? OR

Are you an undergraduate student recieving Federal Student Aid? 


The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR) and the Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning (CECiL) have coordinated with the Office of Student Financial Aid to utilize Federal Work-study aid to fund undergraduate research assistants for faculty and staff.

The goal is to expand opportunities for students within their field of study, while giving faculty FREE research support. The students are paid by OSCAR and the Office of Financial Aid to work on a research project that faculty need completed. Examples include cleaning up survey data, completing a literature review, or researching best practices.

For Faculty and Staff

How to Post a Position:

Detailed instructions are available on the On-Campus Job Description Form.

Position Description:

All positions must give the students direct experience with research or scholarship at a level that is consistent with the student's skills and interests. These are not secretarial or other administrative support positions. 

A good position description will be written in nontechnical language geared toward undergraduate studnets and include: 

  • 2-5 sentences describing the project/research goals
  • 2-5 bullets describing the job duties or expectations
  • 2-5 bullets describing the requirements for the position

Once you have completed the On-Campus Job Description Form please email it to 

OSCAR will help faculy facilitate the posting of all federal work-study undergraduate research positions to the Handshake website. 

For Students


Eligibility is based on demonstrated financial need and is calculated by the George Mason Financial Aid Office. You must have already been awarded financial aid to be offered a work-study position.  If your award package does not included work-study, place contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss adding federal work-study. In addition, you must be enrolled at least half-time (six credit hours per semester) to be eligible for this program.

How to Apply:

Please visit Handshake for job descriptions for each position. Students can find available opportunities by registering for a student account and then searching for “federal work study” by Position Type

Make sure to write a unique cover letter that explains to the faculty member how you have the skills and abilities (or at least an interest in learning the ones listed) to do the project.

Federal Work-study Positions:

You will work as a research assistant for the assigned faculty/staff member for 150 hours per semester. The schedule will be worked out between the student and the mentor.
You will fill out a bi-weekly timesheet on PatriotWeb to get paid.  Timesheets must be submitted on time. Unprocessed time sheets will not be paid and time cannot be made up in the future.
You must keep track of their own hours worked.  Your Federal Work-study award has a cap on the total number of hours that you can work. You can see the hours they have worked on PatriotWeb.
The pay rate for these Federal Work Study Research Assistantships is $10.00/hour.