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Three Important Steps to Becoming a Student Researcher

Think. Are you interested in the arts, sciences, engineering, history, literature, business…do you want to work in a laboratory, library, or out in the field…do your interests include creative accomplishment, quantitative analysis, or qualitative study? Do you have experience, skills, and, most importantly, the motivation and desire to be a contributing student researcher?

Explore. There are many sources for information about undergraduate research opportunities at Penn State. You can browse department and faculty web sites to become familiar with research and creative work being done at the University and identify areas of interest to you. Your instructors and academic advisers may be able to point to specific opportunities for involvement. This web site and many college, campus, and department web sites list faculty projects for which undergraduate research assistance is sought or list special programs that connect undergraduate students with research experiences. Many students go on to address their own research questions under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Contact. Once you have identified a research area or project that is of interest to you, the next step is to contact the faculty member or program involved. Find out about current and future opportunities for participation and the role of undergraduate students. Ask about any application requirement and the nature of the arrangement—whether it is voluntary, wage-payroll, work-study, or involves research or independent study credit. Note that any given project may not be able to accommodate all interested students and you may have to contact more than one.

Why Should You Get Involved?

Through undergraduate research you can:

  • Work with internationally known scholars.
  • Learn more about the newest technologies.
  • Develop a better understanding of current intellectual debates.
  • Build experience that is valuable to careers in business, education, and public service.
  • Get an early introduction to graduate-level study.
  • Share the excitement of discovering something new.
  • Build a lasting relationship with a faculty member or research team.