Undergraduate Research Assistants

The Social Work integrative Research Lab (SWiRL) provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work with MSW students and Social Work faculty on research projects about topics including health inequities, advanced care planning, juvenile justice and child welfare, inter-generational mobility, aging issues, and kinship care. This is an opportunity to develop research skills in a supportive community.

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What is SWiRL?


The Social Work integrative Research Lab (SWiRL) provides undergraduate students with opportunities to learn and apply research skills by assisting with various research projects conducted by Social Work faculty. In our SWiRL model, faculty mentor graduate students and graduate students mentor undergraduate students who learn a variety of research skills and may be assigned tasks from different research projects. Students working in SWiRL gain exposure to SWiRL faculty, as well as their diverse research methodologies and projects.


Tasks cover the broad spectrum of activities across the research process, including:


  • Literature searches
  • Writing annotated bibliographies
  • Preparing materials for IRB review
  • Developing data gathering tools (surveys, interview questions, behavioral observation forms, etc.)
  • Collecting data
  • Cleaning datasets
  • Transcribing data
  • Assisting with data analysis
  • Write-up of results, and
  • Development of abstracts and presentations at research conferences.

Benefits to Undergraduate Students


Students will gain an understanding of how social work research questions are formulated, understand the different ways research questions can be answered, and learn about at least one project in-depth. Students in this position will have the opportunity to work with their Graduate Research Supervisor (GRS) and faculty members to begin to formulate an answerable research question.


Required Skills


  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office programs (especially Microsoft Word and Excel)
  • Willingness to learn to use statistical and qualitative software
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Self-motivated, detail-oriented, organized, reliable, responsible.

Social Work majors preferred


How to Apply


In order to apply, please send a cover letter that describes what intrigues you about research and a current resume to swirl@gmu.edu. In your email, please indicate which of the following options you would consider:


  • Work study (if eligible)
  • Independent study (for course credit), or
  • Volunteer.