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College Procedures

Volunteer Policy

The College of Life Sciences adheres to BYU’s Volunteer Policy. This policy outlines who can volunteer, the nature of volunteer services, and the distinction between volunteers and mentored research participants.

Human research subjects are governed by the Human Research Protection Policy and not the BYU Volunteer Policy.

The sponsoring faculty or unit is responsible for providing training, including applicable safety training, appropriate oversite, personal protective equipment, and medical surveillance as applicable after a risk analysis for each volunteer activity.

Who can volunteer:

  • BYU students: Current BYU students volunteering in mentored research gain future employment experience and are generally exempt from the volunteer policy. However, exceptions may apply depending on the specific circumstances of the research (see below for details).
  • BYU alumni and retired BYU employees: Alumni and retired BYU employees are welcome to volunteer in research activities, subject to the specific needs and requirements of the project, following the university's volunteer policy guidelines.
  • Individuals outside the BYU community: Individuals who are not affiliated with BYU may also volunteer in research activities, depending on the nature of the project and approval from the relevant authorities.

    A volunteer’s services may not displace another employed worker, intern, or student registered for mentored research credit.

Who is not considered a volunteer:

  • Students employed for research activities: Students who receive compensation for their research work, such as through paychecks, hourly wages, or research assistantships, are not considered volunteers.
  • Interns: Students participating in formal internship programs related to research are not considered volunteers.
  • Students enrolled in academic mentored research classes directly related to the research activity: Students taking courses that involve research participation as part of the curriculum are not considered volunteers, as their involvement is directly tied to their academic program.

Mentored research volunteers:

Students engaged in mentored research are generally exempt from the volunteer policy as their primary motivation is to gain experience for future careers. A volunteer agreement is required for mentored research students participating in a project involving any of the following:

  • Activities involving highly toxic chemicals, as defined by OSHA
  • Work with BSL2 or BSL3 agents or toxins
  • Operation of heavy equipment
  • Activities requiring medical surveillance

It's important to note that these are general guidelines, and specific details regarding volunteer opportunities and exemptions should be discussed with the college safety and compliance officer and/or Risk Management.


Additional considerations:

  • Minors: Minors (individuals under 18) are only allowed to volunteer in research under very limited circumstances and must always have prior approval from the college safety and compliance officer and Risk Management before volunteer work begins. Minors usually cannot participate in research that requires a volunteer agreement for a BYU mentored research volunteer.
  • Minor Protection Policy: Activities and events involving volunteers who are minors or situations where adult volunteers interact with minor participants must also comply with the requirements of the BYU Minor Protection Policy.
  • Health Insurance Coverage and Workers’ Compensation: Volunteers are not eligible for university health insurance coverage and will not receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while providing Volunteer Services, even if the university was the beneficiary of the Volunteer Services and university employees provided oversight for the Volunteer Services.
  • Liability for Personal Property Damage: The university does not provide insurance for any loss or damage to a Volunteer’s personal property that may occur in connection with providing Volunteer Services.

Compliance Resources