University Studies Peer Mentor Program


*The application submission window for 2018-19 has closed.*


The University Studies Peer Mentor Program at Portland State University plays an integral role in the Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) and Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) courses by recruiting highly-skilled undergraduate and graduate students to mentor first and second-year students. The Peer Mentor Program was developed under the same award-winning, interdisciplinary general education guidelines as PSU's University Studies Program.

Over 100 undergraduate and graduate Peer Mentors work directly with the FRINQ and SINQ faculty to support students by role-modeling and developing the skills needed to succeed at the university. Given the nature of their work, and their frequent professional development trainings, Peer Mentors also benefit by developing strong leadership, listening, and communication skills, making them highly sought after candidates in the workplace and in graduate programs. For more information email


Mentor Program Overview

University Studies employs a unique strategy for addressing student success at Portland State University. During the year-long freshman level course (Freshman Inquiry) and term-long sophomore level courses (Sophomore Inquiry), upper-division undergraduate and graduate peer mentors are partnered with faculty to deliver these courses. The mentor program is a community of exceptional students trained to provide leadership and academic support to their peers in mentor sessions. Mentor Sessions are designed to help mentees gain experience doing high quality academic work in small groups.

What is a mentor?

Mentors are capable, creative, high-achieving, and experienced students who help other students make the most out of their academic careers. Undergraduate Peer Mentors are juniors or seniors who work with first-year mentees in year-long Freshman Inquiry courses. Graduate Peer Mentors come from all academic disciplines and work with Sophomore Inquiry courses.

What does a mentor do?

Mentors plan and facilitate 50-minute mentor sessions for Freshman Inquiry and Sophomore Inquiry courses. Successful mentors are flexible, perform multiple roles, and approach topics through a variety of lenses. Mentors serve as allies and tutors, helping mentees to understand the academic culture. They bridge faculty and students and help build positive learning communities. They partner closely with their faculty counterparts in creatively implementing course objectives. Mentors work at least 10-20 hours per week, and are encouraged to continue professional development throughout each term.  Because some PSU administrators have said that Peer Mentors are often "the best students on campus," we recruit undergraduate and graduate Peer Mentors by offering them competitive compensation.

What else is expected from mentors?

Be well trained. All new mentors are strongly advised to enroll in a four-credit course, Mentoring in Higher Education that is offered in the spring. All mentors, new and returning, are required to participate in a week-long fall training prior to the start of the academic year. In addition, there is a three-hour retreat each term that every mentor is expected to attend.

Actively participate in a learning community. Additional training opportunities vary term-by-term. Mentors are encouraged to independently seek out a variety of professional development activities while mentoring, including working with others in the mentor community to develop and present workshops for their mentoring peers. One such collaboration led to the creation of EDtalks, an ongoing series of workshop development sessions led by seasoned mentors.

Be minimally competent in the use of technology. All new mentors will be expected to have knowledge of basic academic technology programs. The University Studies program provides resources, support, and consultation opportunities for peer mentors to learn about using these technologies in the classroom with their students.

Be a full-time student.  All mentors must be full-time PSU students. Undergraduate Peer Mentors must take, and pass, a minimum of 12 credit hours per term. Graduate Peer Mentors must take, and pass, 9 credit hours per term.


What is the Compensation?

Undergraduate Peer Mentors receive an Oregon Laurels Scholarship that pays in-state tuition up to 12 credits at the Standard Base Rate (excluding fees). They also receive a monthly Educational Leadership award. See Mentor application for this year's award. Please note that out-of-state and international Undergraduate Peer Mentors will be billed for tuition exceeding the cost of 12 in-state credits.

Graduate Peer Mentors are hired as Graduate Teaching Assistants and receive graduate tuition up to 9 credits at the Standard Base Rate (excluding fees) and a monthly stipend. All GTAs are assessed tuition at the in-state rate. More information on university-wide Graduate Assistantships is available from the Office of Graduate Studies. Post-baccalaureate and certificate-only students are not eligible for peer mentorship; mentors must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at PSU.

NOTE: Graduate students at PSU are currently engaged in collective bargaining. Once an agreement is signed and ratified, the parameters of that agreement may significantly alter the graduate peer mentor hiring process and position. This Web site will be updated once a collective bargaining agreement is reached.

What are other benefits?

Every mentor benefits in unique ways. Mentors become part of a community of scholars who help others to critically and responsibly engage in our increasingly diverse and interconnected world. Mentors gain valuable leadership experience, develop close working relationships with faculty and become even better students themselves. They also actively participate in over 70 – 100 hours of formal training opportunities and create Mentor ePortfolios as part of their professional development experience in the program. Peer Mentors can also receive independent study credits and explore research collaboration opportunities with UNST faculty and staff.

What experiences or skills do I need?

  • Have at least a 3.25 GPA.
  • For Undergraduate Peer Mentors: Have 90 or more PSU credits (including transferred credits) by the September they begin work.
  • For Graduate Peer Mentors: Be admitted into a graduate program. (You can apply for this position if you have not been accepted yet. However, we can only hire those who have been admitted into a graduate program AND who are not post-bac or certificate-only students).
  • Be an excellent student and superior writer.
  • Be willing to be an "academic generalist" and approach the content of the courses in an interdisciplinary manner.
  • Have well-honed interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a culturally-diverse environment.
  • Have adequate to excellent technology skills (i.e., computer software).