Faculty-Student Research Banking
Center for Undergraduate Excellence

» Faculty-Student Research Banking (291/491) Program (FSRB)

Students talking to faculty member at research event

The FSRB is a course load model to incentive faculty participation in undergraduate and graduate research. The program allows a student to enroll in independent research or creative activity credits with a specific faculty mentor (291/491 course designations in most degree programs), with faculty mentors accruing those teaching credits over time.  Once accrued credits reach a threshold value of 24 (8:1 credit ratio, so that 24 student credits = one 3-credit course), the credits become a “course equivalency,” and the faculty member can request a reduced teaching load in a forthcoming semester.

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+ - Accounting

The Center for Undergraduate Excellence, with confirmation of student enrollment from the Office of the Registrar, tracks faculty mentor credits in 291/491.  Faculty totals can be viewed in Blackboard to allow both the faculty member and the relevant dean/associate dean/department chair access to the current credit accounting, updated on a semester-by-semester basis.

+ - Course Load Reduction Protocol

Once a minimum of 24 student credits have been accrued, a faculty mentor may initiate a request for a reduced course load in a forthcoming semester. (NOTE: Except in unusual circumstances, no faculty’s course load may be reduced to zero in any given term through the 291/491 system, and a reduction through this system is not compatible with teaching overloads.)

  1. Faculty member confirms banked credits via assigned Blackboard Organization. Credits in progress are not available for use and are not recorded in the Blackboard accounting until the end of the semester/term. Faculty can consult CUE if for clarification of recorded credits.
  2. Faculty consult with the department chair or associate dean about the course load reduction. If the department chair or associate dean cannot accommodate the faculty’s initial request, the department chair or associate dean will indicate when the course load reduction will be accommodated.
  3. Faculty and department chair or associate dean complete and sign the Course Load Reduction form (link to form) and submit it to CUE via the online portal. (link to portal)
  4. CUE verifies the faculty member has sufficient banked credits for the requested course load reduction and forwards to the Provost for final approval.
  5. CUE returns the final approved form to the faculty and department chair or associate dean.
  6. CUE deducts the appropriate number of credits from the faculty mentor’s accounting at the start of the semester/term in which the course load reduction is used and updates the current balance for the faculty member and appropriate department chair or associate dean.

+ - System Details and Requirements

FSRB System Details 

  • Course designations (291/491) for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, are available in most participating degree programs as “Student-Faculty Research”; students can (re)enroll in 1-3 credits/semester, requiring a minimum of 5 faculty contact hours during the semester and 3 hours of research per week per credit.
  • Because projects under 291/491 are designed as complementary to traditional learning formats, no degree or minor program can require 291/491 for all its students, nor should a program use this system to cover a gap in its curriculum or staffing.
  • Faculty members supervising research will have these 291/491 student credits accrue under their name through the use of section numbers unique to that faculty number (e.g., CHEM-491-80 and CHEM-491-81 represent research credits with two different faculty mentors).
  • An 8:1 ratio represents the “exchange rate” between student credits and faculty teaching credits.
  • Faculty can only bank 12 units per semester (Fall/Spring) or 6 units per Interterm/Summer. 
  • Once accrued 291/491 research credits reach a value of 24 (corresponding to 3 teaching credits), they become a “course equivalency”, e.g., the equivalent of having taught a full 3-credit course.
  • The faculty member can then request the course equivalency be applied in a forthcoming semester, with the effect of reducing the faculty member’s teaching load by one course in that semester.


FSRB Requirements – Students

  • Students must obtain faculty approval and register for 291/491 credits by completing the CUE registration form (link to form) in its entirety during the standard course enrollment period for the upcoming semester.
  • Students must complete Weekly Progress Reports through Blackboard to document student progress/hours on a weekly basis (student tutorial available). Progress reports will be accessible to the student only for the current week and will become inaccessible after that week. Timely completion is necessary.
  • Each students must submit an individual, unique, comprehensive summary of research and/or creative activity at the end of the semester in a format determined by the faculty mentor (e.g., research report, oral presentation, poster presentation, CUSRD); this final summary (Deliverable) should be uploaded onto Blackboard by the last day of regular instruction in the semester (before finals week begins). If multiple students are working on the same project, EACH must summit a unique end-of-semester report describing the specific individual contributions to the larger project.
  • Students must complete the minimum required number of hours of research/creative activity corresponding with the number of 291/491 credits registered as follows (3 hrs./week/credit, 15 weeks/semester):

                · 1 credit = 45 hours

                · 2 credits = 90 hours

                · 3 credits = 135 hours

  • Students must have a minimum of 5 individual faculty contact hours during the semester and must document faculty contact hours by noting them in Weekly Progress Reports in Blackboard.
  • Failure to meet these requirements will result in a grade of “NP” or “F.”


FSRB Requirements – Faculty

  • Faculty must be full-time and cannot be on sabbatical or research leave.
  • Faculty must review and confirm student research/creative activity hours via the Weekly Progress Reports in Blackboard and transfer the confirmed number of hours into the Blackboard Grade Center for that particular 291/491 course (faculty tutorial available) on a regular basis (recommended weekly). In addition to tracking progress for faculty and CUE, this allows students to track hours completed during the semester.
  • Faculty must have a minimum of 5 individual (not group) contact hours with each student during the semester.
  • The default grading for 291/491 courses will be P/NP; however, students may request a letter grade as part of the registration application with approval of the faculty mentor and submission of a formal grading rubric.
  • Failure to meet these requirements will result in forfeiting teaching credits for the semester; forfeited credits are not banked.

Deadlines & Events

Fall 2019 

CUE Open House
Wednesday, September 4th
415 E. Walnut

291/491 Add Drop Date
September 6

Lunch with a Professor Week
October 7-11
11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Randall Dining Commons

Getting Involved in UG Research

Grant Proposal Workshop

Faculty Research and Creative Expression Expo
October 10
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Student Scholar Symposium Abstract Submission Deadline
November 3
4:00 PM

Undergraduate Scholarly/Creative Grant Deadline
November 8
4:00 PM