Undergraduate research opportunities
Most UGR students will work one on one with a CCU faculty mentor. Here are some ways to find a potential mentor:
- Read the faculty profiles, including research interests, on CCU departmental websites. Some departments also have research summary pages (e.g., marine science, kinesiology, or recreation and sport management).
- Read publications from potential CCU mentors (books, articles, videos, etc.).
- Ask your advisor which faculty member best fits your research interests.
- Ask your fellow students about research experiences and mentors.
- Drop by during a potential faculty mentor's office hours to chat about their research.
- Make an appointment with the Office for Undergraduate Research to learn more.
Tips for success:
Unless you have a burning research question of your own, it is generally much easier to pick a topic that is related to your research mentor’s existing research program or creative efforts. Much of the supporting and background work will have already been done, various methodologies and resources may already be in place, and you may step right into a whole team of collaborators if other students are also working with your mentor.
The earlier you get involved in your project, the better. Some majors take care of this automatically, with a required research prep course the semester before a required research course/senior thesis. For most majors, though, the timing is up to you. The best scenario is to volunteer with a research program and/or research mentor long before you actually do an independent project for credit. Some students start as a freshman, and by the time they start an independent project as a junior or senior, they know exactly what they are getting into and are able to make a very informed decision in choosing their topic. At the very least, you should start planning your project with your mentor a semester before you take the course for credit.
Some off-campus internships are research-based. Internship applications are often due many months before the start date, and most of these are summer programs.
- Ask your advisor about research-based internship opportunities in your major.
- Schedule an appointment with the director of internships and service learning or your departmental internship coordinator to find out about research internship opportunities.
- NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Programs: This large, easily searchable, national program offers outstanding research experiences for competitive students in STEM Programs (science, technology, engineering and math) supported by the National Science Foundation. The social sciences (psychology, sociology, political science, and economics) are included, as well. Over 600 REU sites at major universities and research institutions support groups of undergraduates to work with faculty and other researchers on specific research projects. Students are granted substantial stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel.
- Research listings from WebGURU (Guide for Undergraduate Research): A fairly large listing, some REU sites but many others as well.
UGR funding is generally for two main purposes:
- Funding the research itself (supplies, equipment, travel, in some cases a stipend, …).
- Funding travel to present, perform, or exhibit the final project (at research conferences, symposia, juried shows, …). Publication costs are also sometimes required.
Grant funding cycles can lag 6-12 months between proposal submission and initial funding, and such a long planning window often does not accommodate the short time frame of undergraduate research. Usually, the research mentor or the university have already secured funding to support UGR research activities (supplies, equipment, travel…). However, with a little advanced planning, some students do find their own funding, which is both a valuable learning experience and a noteworthy accomplishment on their resumes.
Here are some places to find funding:
- All CCU colleges have funding to support student travel to present their research or creative works at professional conferences, symposia or exhibitions. Coordinate with your research mentor and be sure to get your request in early.
- Many conferences offer travel grants for student presenters. Carefully review the webpages for any conference you plan to attend to see if this is the case. The deadline for these grants is generally early, so plan ahead.
- The CCU Honors College designates funding to support research expenses for Honors Theses. Honors students should check with the director of the Honors Program.
- Limited funding for student research projects is sometimes available through departments, college deans, or the CCU Quality Enhancement Plan which fosters experiential leaning opportunities. Ask your research mentor about these possibilities.
- Many professional societies offer small grants for student research. Check with your research mentor for potential offerings in your field of study.
- Some competitive off-campus undergraduate research programs include a stipend and travel and housing expenses. An excellent example is the NSF REU program, described in the section above.
- Sigma Xi Grants in Aid of Research program: With applications twice a year and a relatively short turn around, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society) funds undergraduates for up to $1,000 for their research projects in all areas STEM areas.
Office for Undergraduate Research
Baxley Hall 223
Interim Dean, College of Graduate Studies and Research
Undergraduate Research Assistant