Is research only in a lab?

Research takes place in a variety of physical settings such as labs, libraries, archives, computer labs, in the field, studios, theatres, etc. Where research occurs depends on the discipline, the research topic, and the methodology.

What is the time commitment?

The amount of time committed to undergraduate research varies by discipline, by project, and even over the course of a single project. Most students can expect to spend 4-15 hours per week on their undergraduate research. Be sure to discuss time expectations with your potential faculty research mentor prior to accepting a position. Time commitments also depend on if you are conducting the research during the academic year or over the summer. 

If I plan to go to graduate or professional school, do I need to do undergraduate research?

Undergraduate research is generally not a requirement for admission to graduate or professional school. However, it is one aspect of your application that can demonstrate your intellectual abilities, academic engagement, and critical thinking/problem-solving skills. Put your energy and enthusiasm into undergraduate research that reflects your interests and passions.

Can I receive academic credit for undergraduate research?

Yes. All departments have undergraduate research course offerings, but must be approved individually by a faculty research mentor.

When should I start research?

Most students start their undergraduate research projects during their sophomore year. We encourage students to start as early as possible, because the longer you wait the scope of your research becomes limited. Plus, the earlier you start the more opportunities you may have to present, publish, or compete for funding.

Are there prerequisites to completing research?

This depends on the faculty mentor and/or field of study. Sometimes, relevant experience or coursework is required for students to have a meaningful experience. In many cases, students will develop skills as you get involved in the research project. Some majors offer specific courses designed to introduce the student to research and are helpful to beginning undergraduate research.

Can I get paid to conduct research?

Yes! There are funding sources you can apply for to support your independent or faculty-sponsored research project on- and off-campus. Generally, these funds require a research proposal. In some cases, the lab or department you conduct research with will have funds to compensate you.

Can I conduct research outside of my major?

Yes. While most students choose to complete research projects within their major, students can choose to conduct research within the area of their minor or a subject in which they are passionate about. It is important to discuss your choice of research outside of your major with a potential faculty mentor to develop connections between the project and your major.

What’s the best way to connect with a potential faculty research mentor?

If possible, you should try and talk directly with a faculty member with whom you are interested in working with. Students should be prepared for a meeting by familiarizing themselves with the faculty member’s work and consider how the student could fit into the research program. 

In some cases, emails are the best form of communication. In this case, be specific in the subject line – think about all of the emails you receive and how you screen through them. Again, show your familiarity with the professor’s work and why you are reaching out to them. You might need to follow up with a second email after not hearing back for a while.

Do I have to be in the honors program to conduct research?

You do not have to participate in the honors program to conduct research or seek funding. We encourage all students, honors and non-honors, to get involved with research as undergraduates.

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