Consistent with its mission, Brown offers its undergraduate students a great diversity of opportunities for leadership, teaching, research, volunteer work, and other employment, all of which enhance the student experience in the classroom. Any duties that students may perform for compensation are subject to federal regulation under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the U.S. Department of Labor.

In 2011, the Provost convened a task force to review the range of undergraduate employment opportunities, in order to clarify their meaning relative to federal regulations. The task force developed a set of useful categories that can be followed in your planning. They define the types of work that turn an undergraduate student into an actual "employee" of Brown—thus requiring hourly wages—and the types that are considered for the student's own benefit—thus allowing alternative methods of recognition or payment.

The categories are as follows:

  • Student Employment – Work that benefits the employing department and related to the duties and responsibilities of the department. The work is necessary to conduct department objectives and creates an employer/employee relationship. This category should be considered the "default" option for any kind of student work. 
    N.B. Undergraduate teaching and research assistants always fall into this category.
  • Volunteer Work - Service provided on a voluntary basis. There is a mutual understanding that there will be no payment for services performed. Reimbursing or covering expenses incurred is allowable. Some examples are Meiklejohn Advisors, Campus Tour Guides, Orientation Welcoming Committee, and Swearer Center Volunteers.
  • Scholarly Award – Work that has an obvious academic or research component designed to advance the student's education or training. Approved opportunities include Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards, Research at Brown Grants, Royce and Mellon Fellowships, Science Fellows, Brown Internship Awards, and the Brown International Scholars Program.
  • Program Leadership and Coordination – Activities that have a clear intent to develop the student's capabilities in leadership and program development. These activities are designed in such a way that the student's skills and knowledge continue to be evaluated and advanced. Approved opportunities include Meiklejohn Leadership, Swearer Center Leaders, Residence Advisors, Residential Peer Leaders, Minority Peer Counselors, and Writing Fellows.

We ask that you follow these categories when determining the appropriate payment method for student workers in the future. Failure to follow these guidelines could put the University at risk. Thank you for your attention to this important aspect of the undergraduate experience.

NOTE: Prizes and Reimbursements are not considered employment. Please refer to the Controller's Office for additional information.