Pillars of Research

Contribute to cutting-edge scholarship and gain valuable research skills in a supportive community of peers and professors with the Pillars of Research Learning Community.

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Contribute to Research of Consequence
Schar School students standing beside a research poster for the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

Become a World-Class Researcher

Open to all Schar School students, the Pillars of Research Learning Community offers the opportunity to gain hands-on research and analytic skills while contributing to topics of interest and gaining class credit. Students in the community will earn 1 credit of GOVT 399 in the fall and 1 credit of GOVT 399 in the spring.

As a part of this community, students have the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) conducting a hands-on research project under the mentorship of a Schar School faculty member.  Students serving as an undergraduate research assistant earn 1-3 additional credits of GOVT 399.

A Community of Scholars

Students will have a wide-range of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Monthly discussions on research topics with speakers, scholars, and experts;
  • Facilitated coffee-house conversations around topics related to research and scholarship, including methodology, research design, data management and analysis, and working with institutional review boards;
  • Skills workshops on poster design and presentations for both professional and academic audiences;
  • Presentation practice sessions with peer feedback and facilitated workshopping of ideas; and
  • A trip each semester to a Washington, D.C.-area research organization such as the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Council on Foreign Relations, or Brookings Institution.
A group of George Mason University OSCAR students in front of a research project board

"I would recommend URAP to every student. It has not only taught me how to be a better researcher, but a better scholar of political science. For me, URAP allowed me to try out a realm of politics that I was interested in working in. I was able to reach a depth in understanding and see if this type of work was what I wanted to do in the future. And with the diverse interests of the professors at the Schar School, the projects cover a wide range of topics and roles, allowing you the opportunity to get the most out of your experience. URAP has inspired me to continue with research and now I am excited and eager to work on any project that may come my way."

— Molly Reed
BA, Government and International Politics
Schar School of Policy and Government student Molly Reed
Photo of Zuri Hodnett, BA in Government and International Politics student

"When I first got into URAP I was expecting to conduct research on my own which was intimidating but to my surprise, I was one of a group of around seven people that would be conducting research for the project. Working in a group provided support and guidance as a new student to Mason and the Schar School. I would highly recommend URAP as it provides educational tools and skills as well as connections and professional relationships with professors and other classmates."  

— Zuri Hodnett
BA, Government and International Politics
Schar School of Policy and Government Assistant Professor Heba El-Shazli

Meet the Pillars of Research Learning Community Director




Professor Heba F. El-Shazli




For any questions or to learn more, contact: scharurc@gmu.edu