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How do I get involved in research?
The following steps are intended as a guide. We recommend speaking with a faculty advisor to discuss what interests and engages you the most.
Step 1: Identify your approach
There are many ways to integrate research into your undergraduate career. Here are some options—decide what’s best for you:
- Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)—More than 200 CSE students each year work on research projects in various departments through UROP, which pairs them 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. Spring semester proposals are usually due early October. The deadline for summer and fall is usually mid-February. For specific dates and information, visit the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program web page.
- International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (I-UROP)—This program provides funding to students enrolled in select credit-bearing learning abroad programs that involve a research project. I-UROP project proposals for spring semester are usually due late October. The deadline for fall or the full academic year is usually early May. For specific dates and information, visit the International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program web page.
- Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)—The National Science Foundation funds research programs at various institutions. 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. You can find a list of science and engineering-related REUs within the University of Minnesota on the UMN Research Experiences for Undergraduates page.
- 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—then 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 under the Job Family "Stu Technical Services." Learn more on the Office of Human Resources website.
- Internships—You can gain experience in a particular field through internships, which are often off-campus and can be research-based, and/or focus on career skills beyond research. A good place to look for internships is the Handshake website, the University of Minnesota’s professional job, internship, and volunteer database. Some departments may offer course credit for internships. Check with your department to determine if credit is an option. Learn more about internship options on the Handshake website.
Step 2: Identify interests
Consider the following when figuring out what type of research 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 current undergraduate research by attending an Undergraduate Research Symposium or reviewing the Minnesota Undergraduate Research Academic Journal (MURAJ).
Step 3: Identify a faculty mentor
Be thoughtful about the types of research you are interested in and the professor you decide to contact. You do not have to work with a faculty member in your major or even in your college.
- Choose a few potential faculty members that you might like to work with. You can start on the department website and scroll through the list of faculty. Learn more on the CSE directories web page.
- Another great place to look is the Experts@Minnesota website. Search concepts/keywords you want to study and you will get a list of University of Minnesota faculty working on that topic. Make a list of potential faculty members to approach—because not everyone can take on a new student.
- The U of M Office of Undergraduate Research has resources that can help you identify potential faculty members. Learn more on the Office of Undergraduate Research web page.
Step 4: Make contact
Do your homework to make a good first impression! Once you choose your professors, read a couple of their recent publications. You can find this under "faculty profile" on the Experts@Minnesota website or department websites. If you liked what you read, email the faculty member—ask if you can set up an appointment to discuss their research and potential undergraduate research opportunities with them.
At the meeting:
- Remind the professors 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
Go into your research experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn—and you will do great!