Student research

Work directly with faculty on new discoveries in state-of-the-art facilities

How to get involved

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

Step 1: Identify your approach

There are many ways you can integrate research into your undergraduate career. 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 will give 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 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)—The I-UROP scholarship promotes learning abroad opportunities to undergraduates by providing funding to students enrolled in select credit-bearing learning abroad programs involving a research project. Proposals for I-UROP projects 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 the 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

All research opportunities start with identifying a faculty mentor. Be thoughtful about the types of research you are interested in and the faculty 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 with the department 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 concepts/keywords that you want to study to find University of Minnesota faculty working on that topic. Learn more on the Experts@Minnesota website. Make a list of several faculty members because not everyone will be able to take on a new student.
  • The U of M Office of Undergraduate Research has resources that can help you in identifying 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 the faculty you want to contact, read a couple of their most recent publications. You can find this information under the faculty profile at Experts@Minnesota website or on the faculty pages on the department websites. 

You may not understand everything in a research paper, but you will understand some of it. It will help you determine if you want to work with that particular faculty member, or it may help you eliminate that 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 an appointment set up, 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!