Students can get involved in undergraduate research as early as their first semester or at any point in their time as an undergraduate.
Because undergraduate research can take many different forms, there are many ways to get involved.
In course-based research, students complete research assignments individually or in groups. Assignments are designed to help students develop research skills, understand course concepts, and dig deeper into subjects and questions from class that interest them. Research might be built into a course or could enhance a course with an honors option.
In program-based research, students apply to join a program that is designed to offer students hands-on research experience and the opportunity to present research. If accepted to such a program, students may get funding or course credit for participating.
In a research team or as a research assistant, students might assist a faculty member or other researcher on their existing project. This can help students learn how to conduct research in a particular subject area and get exposure to a wide range of skills and practices.
In an independent project, students take on a project of their own to explore a topic or question that interests them through an independent study, thesis, or some other format under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
Opportunities for research can be found in any subject area or major – from the sciences to the social sciences to the humanities and the arts. Research can look different in every field, but regardless of subject, all research experiences share a common purpose: inquiry, investigation, and contributions to a larger body of knowledge and understanding.
Some of the many benefits of participating in undergraduate research include:
- Expand your understanding of your area of inquiry
- Investigate real-world problems
- Hone critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that are valuable for any professional path
- Work closely with a faculty mentor
- Create a sense of community with other students doing similar work
- Focus your career goals
- Demonstrate your initiative and perseverance to prospective employers
To learn more about undergraduate research options, talk to your advisor and instructors or contact Jen Jarson, Head Librarian and Chair of the Undergraduate Research Committee at Penn State Lehigh Valley.