Student research

A variety of undergraduate research opportunities are available at the University of Minnesota. You can work directly with College of Science and Engineering faculty members on new discoveries in state-of-the-art facilities.

How to get involved

These steps are intended as a preliminary source of information and guidance towards research. It is not a substitute for meeting and talking with faculty to discuss what interests and engages you the most. These steps include:

Step 1 - Identify your approach

You have the opportunity to work in a research setting and gain valuable experience. Decide what types of research are best for you.

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) More than 200 CSE students each year work on research projects in various departments through UROPs. Participating in a UROP gives you the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor on a research project. UROP students receive up to $1,500 in stipends and up to $300 for project related expenses. To apply, you need to identify a faculty mentor and create a research proposal. Proposals for UROP projects for spring semester 2018 are due Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. The deadline for summer and fall 2018 is Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Learn more on the Undergraduate Research website.
  • International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) The International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Scholarship promotes learning abroad opportunities to undergraduate students by providing funding to students enrolled in select credit-bearing learning abroad programs involving a research project. Proposals for International UROP projects for spring semester 2018 are due Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. The deadline for fall 2018 or academic year 2018-19 is Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Learn more on the Undergraduate Research website.
  • Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) The National Science Foundation funds research programs at institutions throughout the nation. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. An REU site may be within the U.S. or abroad. Learn more on the National Science Foundation website.
  • Other summer research programs The Office of Undergraduate Research maintains information on summer research positions at the University of Minnesota and locations across the United States. Learn more on the Undergraduate Research website.
  • Course credit/directed research You can earn credit by working in a lab or field setting under a faculty member’s guidance. Before starting your research, be sure to find out how the credits fit into your program of study and complete and submit a directed research contract. Ask your academic advisor or contact your department to find out how to participate in directed research.
  • Employment Working hourly on a faculty member's project can be a great way to get initial exposure, training and experience. Search for student jobs including the designation of UGRA I and II. Learn more on the Office of Human Resources website.
  • Internships Internships can help students gain experience in a particular field. Internships are often off-campus, and can be research-based or focus on career skills beyond research. A good place to look for internships is the GoldPASS website, the University of Minnesota’s professional job, internship, and volunteer database. Learn more on the GoldPASS website.

Step 2 - Identify interests

Consider the following when figuring out the type of research that you want to do:

  • Which topics in your courses have you liked the most?
  • Which courses have you liked the most?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What have other students done?

Learn more about various types research and how you can talk to students about their research on the Undergraduate Research Symposium website.

Step 3 - Identify a faculty mentor

All research opportunities start with identifying a faculty mentor. Be thoughtful about what types of research you are interested in, and therefore which faculty members you decide to contact. You do not have to work with a faculty member in your major or even in your college.

Choosing potential faculty mentors:

  • Choose a few potential faculty members that you might like to work with. You can start with the departmental websites and their lists of faculty members. Learn more on the CSE directories web page.
  • Another great place to look is the Experts@Minnesota. Search for concepts/keywords that you are interested in studying to find faculty at the University of Minnesota working on that topic. Learn more on the Experts@Minnesota website. Have several faculty members in mind because not every faculty member will be able to take a new student.
  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Office can help in identifying potential faculty members. Learn more on the UROP website.

Step 4 - Make contact

It is beneficial to do your homework and make a good first impression. Once you choose the faculty members you want to contact, read a couple of their most recent publications. You can find this information under their faculty profile at Experts@Minnesota website or on their faculty pages on departmental web sites. 

You may not understand everything in a research paper, but you will understand some of it. It will help you determine that you want to work with a particular faculty member or it may eliminate a particular choice. After you read some papers, email the faculty member and ask to set up an appointment to discuss their research and potential undergraduate research opportunities with them.  

Once you have a meeting set up with a faculty member, consider the following at the meeting:

  • Remind them that you read their papers and that you chose them because you are interested in their research.
  • Communicate your availability and time commitment (hours per week and semesters).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be serious but enthusiastic.

Step 5 - Success

Success in research is not always easy. Sometimes you can work hard and nothing turns out the way you want. Other times, you can make a mistake and it turns out to be a gold mine. Go into your research experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn and you will do great!

More About On-the-job Experience