Frequently Asked Questions

Why use Muser?

How does the student side of the website work?


How does the mentor side of the site work?

Is there a difference between MUSER and Muser?

Muser is the new name for MUSER.  Muser serves all disciplines and research areas at Duke, so the previous acronyms no longer apply.  Muser's first iteration was CUBR (Connecting Undergraduates to Biology Research), then it expanded to MUSER (Matching Undergraduates to Science and Engineering Research), and now the program serves all of Duke using the new name, Muser.  

Questions about Muser rounds 

What are "Muser rounds"?

Muser rounds (also known as project rounds) are clearly defined time periods throughout the year during which mentors post research projects, students apply, and positions are filled and mentor-student contracts are signed. Each are broken down into four segments: mentors post research projects (~7-10 days), students apply for projects (~7-10 days), mentors review student applicants and accept/reject (~10-14 days), and mentors who elect to do so work with their accepted students to develop a mentor-student contract that articulates project responsibilities and expectations (7 days).

When do rounds happen?

Generally, Muser rounds tend to coincide with the Duke academic calendar for when undergraduate students will register for the next semester classes or when there is a drop/add period. At the moment we offer four rounds: a Fall round for Fall projects (August), a late Fall round for Spring projects (October/November), a Spring round for Summer projects (February/March), and a late Spring round for Fall projects (March/April). 

Why are there project "rounds"?

For most students, there is not an obvious time of the year to search for research positions.  Right now, Muser runs four rounds per year.  Three rounds are timed with course registration for students interested in planning out their next semester ahead of time (Spring, Summer, and Fall).  One round is timed for the start of the academic year (late August).  With timed rounds, students can feel confident that they can look for projects at specific time periods and not worry about constantly searching throughout the year.  

Do you wish there were more rounds at particular times of the year?  Contact Muser staff (using the Contact form once you are logged in to the site) to make suggestions.

Questions about Muser features

What’s that gold star icon?

New mentors and previous mentors who have a track record of fully reviewing and making decisions on their applicants have a gold star next their name on the public project listings page.  This is a great indicator for students when they are applying for projects.  A gold star means that the mentor fully reviewed all of their applicants the last time they posted a project.

What's that handshake icon?

Mentors who have indicated the would like to develop a mentor-student contract with students accepted to their project will have a handshake icon appear next to their project title. Mentor-student contracts will vary from project to project, mentor to mentor, and discipline to discipline, but they generally delineate student and mentor responsibilities and expectations in the hopes of setting a strong foundation for a mutually beneficial research experience. For more information, and for some example contracts, read this Musing blog post the Muser team wrote on the subject.

Why are there application limits?

The application limit is designed to encourage students to really think about the projects they're interested in, rather than just applying to all of them. To help with strategizing, Muser provides a cool feature with which students can see how many students have applied to a project and how many spots are available in that project.  That way, students can both apply for “dream” projects that may be particularly competitive as well as projects with fewer applicants and better odds.

I'm a mentor and I don't see a project category that works for my field, what should I do?

Contact Muser staff (using the Contact form once you are logged in to the site) to make suggestion for category options that match your field of research.

Questions about independent study credit and compensation/funding

As a student, where can I go to find additional financial support?

If you are interested in an unpaid research project - or one that does not offer enough compensation - but need more funding to support your work, the Duke Undergraduate Research Support Office (URS) offers several opportunities. URS Assistantships, URS Independent Study Grants, and Dean's Summer Research Fellowships are three examples of student funding pathways. For more information, please contact the Director of URS, Dr. Sarah Russell, at

Please be advised that Muser does not manage or administer any research funding. 

Can Duke pay students if they reside outside of North Carolina?

In most cases, no. Duke cannot hire hourly workers outside of North Carolina as Duke employees, because the institution is not set up to be in compliance with other states’ non-exempt payroll and tax laws. 

That said, researchers are able to work with their departmental business managers to explore hiring options through third-party agencies. We encourage you to reach out to your financial managers for further guidance. 

Please be advised that Muser does not manage or administer any research funding. 

Why can’t a project be both a paid position and provide independent study credit?

This isn’t a weird Muser thing - it’s actually the law!  It simply isn’t allowed for a student to be paid to take a class (i.e., get course credit for an independent study class), so this designation in Muser is how it works at any university and across Duke. 

Questions post-application review

I'm an undergraduate and I have been accepted to more than one Muser project, what should I do?

Muser does not restrict the number of projects to which a single student can be accepted.  The student must navigate "offers" of positions and communicate directly with mentors about availability.  In some cases, it is possible to accept more than one Muser project offer, because the time commitments vary considerably - from one hour per week to 9+ hours per week.

I'm a mentor and did not receive enough applications or I did not find a good match for my project, what should I do?

It happens!  Just move any applicants over to the decision area of your application portal and your project will be closed without accepting students.  If you did not receive enough applications, keep working on posting projects that engage undergraduates. Undergraduates have a lot of options here at Duke, and the way the project is presented can make a big difference.

The text on my browser looks all jumbled - what can I do?

Try out and update your browser.  The Muser site is designed to work on only currently available and supported browsers.

How do I contact Muser staff?

Once users have logged in, Muser staff can be contacted by clicking Contact at the base of any page on the site.