Comparing Research Opportunities
On-Campus Research Experiences
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Undergraduate research assistants work in a professor's lab, typically for course credit under "directed research" or "independent study", are introduced to the theory, concepts and materials, technology and skill utilized in a laboratory. Depending upon the project, they may be paid for participation.
Graduate Assistants (GAs) work in a professor's lab, typically are completing graduate degrees in that particular area of research, and may lead a particular project area of the lab.
Students can also volunteer in a professor's laboratory. These are unpaid positions and do not have course credit. The time commitment as a volunteer is generally more flexible and less demanding than other research activities. Tasks are generally more menial, but it is a good way to assess whether "research is for you". Also the skills that you acquire will help with your professional development portfolio. Many professors require volunteer activity to show dedication and commitment before they will allow student to take course credit or enter a paid position in their laboratory.
There are a number of research programs for students that are funded by federal programs. Students admitted to these programs are generally provided salary for participation, either during the summer or throughout the academic year. These programs normally have eligibility requirements and a competitive application process. For further information regarding these funded research programs, contact the Jensen SAS Center.
Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)
- Provide access to work in a research lab at a public or private institution under the supervision of a faculty research advisor
- Last between 6-10 weeks
- Vary in admission criteria and research emphasis
- Offer stipends, housing, and travel reimbursement
- Typically funded by a federal grant program
- Offer opportunities to build teamwork skills, meet other students in a unique research setting, and clarify your career aspirations.
Summer Enrichment Programs
Most summer enrichment programs are summer residential programs for undergraduate students, which last anywhere from 4-10 weeks. Some programs may focus on strengthening necessary study skills such as problem solving, time management, and note taking. Other programs introduce students to science or health careers.