Resources for Work Study

Did you know that you can use your Work-Study awards to do research?  And that you can apply for a URS Assistantship Grant to cover the gap in wages for your employer not covered by the work-study award itself?  See below for more information and reach out to us if you have any questions!

For Mentors

If you are a mentor, you can find more information here.

For Students

Using Work-Study to Do Research at Duke - Info Students Need to Know!

Information about Work Study for Undergraduates can be found here: 

What Students Need to Know:

  • Almost all Duke students can apply for work study and will either qualify for Federal Work Study OR Duke Work Study. 
  • To apply for either type of work study, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There is more information on the How to Apply site of the Duke Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support.   
  • Once submitted, Duke will notify students whether they qualify for Federal or Duke Work Study.  
  • The amount of work study students that are awarded varies and is determined by several factors.  The maximum award in 2022 was $2200 for fall and spring semesters combined. 
  • Wages above the work study maximum award can be earned, but not from the work study funds. The source of funding beyond the work study award will need to be negotiated between the student and the mentor.  
  • For International students 
    • International students who are currently receiving need-based aid, and have work eligibility in the United States may be eligible for Duke Work Study. 
    • Students should contact the office of Visa services to determine the number of hours they are eligible to work based on their visa status.  
    • International students who did not request need-based financial aid through admissions, are not eligible for need-based aid, which includes Duke work study. 
    • Students who are eligible for work in the United States may secure paid positions not covered by Work Study and there are many departments who offer such roles.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I get started?  

To apply for either type of work study, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There is more information on the How to Apply site of the Duke Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support.   


What is the difference between a Work Study job and a Non-Work Study Job?  

Work Study only refers to the funding source of the student’s wages for the position, and it has no bearing on the types of jobs or responsibilities they can perform. Research can be considered a work study position suitable for a student. Note that research can also be a non-work study position that is paid from a different source of funds.  


What is the difference between Federal Work Study and Duke Work Study? 

The difference doesn’t matter for students–  earnings will be the same. The difference lies in how much financial aid will cover for the employer: Federal Work Study will cover 75% of wages and Duke Work Study will cover 50%.  


Where does the funding for the portion of wages not covered by Work Study come from?  

The other 25% - 50% (up to $275-$550/semester) will need to be covered by another financial source. This may be covered by a faculty or department’s source of funds or students can apply for a URS-Assistantship, which is available at the beginning of each semester until the funds are depleted.  


What is the hourly wage that students can earn for a Work Study position? 

The 2022/23 rates for hourly student employees are as follows (effective July 1, 2022) 

Please note: these allocations reflect total wage earnings. 

Position Type Minimum Maximum
Student Assistant - General $15.75/hr $20.25/hr
Student Assistant - Specialized $16.75/hr $23.25/hr


Can students earn a salary for doing research if they are enrolled in an Independent Study course for credit?  

Students are not eligible to earn wages through work study and/or assistantships who are enrolled in Independent Study and/or receiving course credit on a research project with a mentor. Students can, however, earn wages doing research on one project while simultaneously earning Independent Study course credit with a different mentor on a different research project.  


Are students required to use all of my Work Study award in one place? 

Students can work in multiple places and split the money from the Work Study. However, Work Study funds cover more than the annual work study award amount. Any wages earned above the awarded amount will need to be paid from a different source of funds, arranged between the student and mentor.  


How do students identify research positions? 

Some students will find research positions posted on MUSER at various times during the academic year or they may find positions posted on the student employment site (JobX). Some students will also secure research positions by reaching out to potential mentors who are doing research of interest to them. Talk to your instructors, your advisor, a Director of Undergraduate Studies or a Director of Academic Engagement for suggestions. You can see more on the URS site about Getting Started in Research


How can I approach my research mentor about getting paid?

Many faculty would be happy to get you set up in payroll to earn wages when you are able to provide a source for those wages like work-study combined with the URS Assistantship.  With these resources, it doesn't cost them anything to hire you and have you earn wages.

Here is an email template to help you get started on this conversation:

Dear Dr. [X],

First, thank you for the opportunity you have provided for me to gain research experience with you.  [Insert something personal here about your interests/motivations, etc].

I wanted to ask if you would be willing to consider hiring me as a work-study student in the [Fall/Spring] semester?  I’ve received information from the Undergraduate Research Support (URS) Office encouraging me to use my work-study award to earn wages for doing research, rather than volunteering.  The URS Office offers URS Assistantships to cover the gap in wages that isn’t covered by financial aid for the work-study award, so this shouldn’t cost you anything for me to earn wages. 

You can find information for mentors about how this works on this URS Office page: How to Hire Students Using Their Work Study and URS Assistantship Funding. If you have any questions, you can reach out to the URS Office at URSOffice[at]

If you agree to hire me using my work-study award, I will plan to submit my application for the URS Assistantship. 

Thank you,

[Your Name]