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Undergraduate Research Assistantships in History

Guidelines for Research Assistantships

Purpose: A research assistantship creates a mutually beneficial relationship between student and professor. It is especially helpful for students who want to learn more about the ins and outs of historical research and writing. Students can receive college credit for their work.

Specific Recommendations

Research assistantships occur solely at the discretion of an individual professor, who in consultation with the interested student and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, arranges the Research Assistantship and sets expectations. A student who is working almost exclusively for the professor, to advance her or his research, should enroll in the internship course, HIST 4910 and receive a grade of "Credit" or "No Credit." If a student is working with a faculty member on research that overlaps with the student's own interests (i.e. an honors thesis, 3111J J paper, undergraduate research fund, etc.), the student would enroll in a 4930 Directed Study course with the instructor and receive a letter grade. Both are variable hours (4910: 1 to 4 and HIST 4930: 1 to 4) and follow a formula of 25 total hours of work for each hour of credit. For internships, the department has generally required a minimum of 2 hours of credit or 50 hours of work per semester. Most students opt to receive 3 hours of credit and complete at least 75 hours of work.


Any history major or minor is eligible for a Research Assistantship; there is no minimum GPA or course prerequisite, though individual faculty may, of course, choose to set their own requirements. Students should provide the faculty with information regarding their general GPA and their GPA within the major, history classes taken, special skills (computer, database, etc.) That form also will provide information about how to deal with problems should they arise.


In lieu of a syllabus, a written "contract" will be drawn up by the faculty member, in consultation with the student. A copy of that document is given to the student and to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who arbitrates any problems and, in the case of internships, serves as the instructor of record.

At minimum, the agreement should include the following information:

  • Number of hours of work over the course of the semester (Internships are capped at 100 work hours and independent studies at 125 hours.)
  • The credit hours to be earned
  • Specific assignments that will be expected of the students, including any known research tasks, written assignments, and/or other criterion upon which the student will be evaluated and/or graded
  • The expected frequency of meetings between the faculty and student
  • How students will be held accountable
  • The faculty's responsibilities to the student, including what specific historical or research skills they will help the student to acquire