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Right: URCA Assistants presenting at the Midwestern Psychological Conference
Left: URCA Associate Robin Cummins presenting at the 25th Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference,


What is the URCA Program?

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Program at SIUE encourages, supports, and enables students to participate in research and creative activities at the undergraduate level. An undergraduate research or creative activity experience enhances the quality of the baccalaureate experience by giving students opportunities to engage in scholarship, to interact with faculty, and to connect more fully in the educational process of discovering and creating. The URCA Program recognizes that student talents can be uncovered in ways that do not appear through the usual format of classroom instruction and testing. In cooperation with the academic departments at SIUE, the URCA Program recruits eligible students as URCA Associates and URCA Assistants.

URCA Associates work one-on-one with faculty mentors to lead their own research projects or creative activities. Associates are the principal investigators in their projects. The process involves several stages: submitting a proposal and budget for approval, acceptance into the program, doing the research or creative activity during the semesters specified in the proposal, participating in periodic URCA events, preparing a final report in publishable form, and presenting the results at the URCA Symposium. The URCA office provides budgetary support for conducting the scholarly activity as well as advisory support during preparation of the proposals and reports. The Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness, in which URCA is housed, assists students during their work by providing prompt administrative support as needed. The academic departments and supervising faculty mentor(s) provide all necessary research guidance and facilities. The academic departments also arrange purchase of commodities and services required for the projects, using the project budget funds provided by the Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness. In addition, URCA Associates receive a monetary award in two installments - the first installment is disbursed at the end of the first academic semester in the program, and the second after students have completed their reports and made their final presentations. Full-time students who have been accepted as a major in any of the disciplines at SIUE and who maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better are eligible to compete for URCA Associate positions. Students must have junior or senior standing at the time they conduct their URCA Associate work and, often, may use the URCA project to fulfill the Senior Assignment requirement for graduation. Proposals must be signed and submitted in the prescribed form to the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program, Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness, Box 1300, SIUE, Edwardsville, IL 62026- 1300 and via e-mail to Dr. Ariel Belasen (

URCA Assistants work approximately nine hours per week on faculty-led research or creative activities for a minimum of one semester. This position provides students with an introductory experience in the research or creative activities of a specific field. Up to 100 Assistants per semester will receive a monetary award for their participation; several others serve as "volunteer" Assistant each semester. Faculty submit their research or creative activity proposals to the URCA Program Coordinator. The proposals are then approved if the project and faculty are deemed eligible to receive a URCA Assistant. Once approved, students apply online for the Assistant positions through the URCA website. Students accepted as Assistants must meet the learning outcomes set forth by the faculty member who is principal investigator on the project. Some Assistant positions even provide the student with an opportunity to receive course credit. Individuals who are full-time students at SIUE and have a minimum GPA of 2.3 are eligible to apply for URCA Assistant positions. Students may apply for Assistant positions at any time during their undergraduate SIUE careers (freshman through senior years).

Participation in the URCA Program as an Associate, Assistant, or Mentor is a privilege for both students and faculty. If a participant in the URCA Program is not meeting expectations in any area, either within or outside of the URCA Program (i.e. related or unrelated coursework, communication, institutional responsibilities and values, university activities, etc.), the individual's participation in the URCA Program may be affected.

Click here for findings about the value of undergraduate research and creative activities experiences for students.

For more information on the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program,
contact Dr. Ariel Belasen at (618) 650-2940 or

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