Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Research experiences offer all kinds of opportunities for you to develop the Core Career Competencies that signify career readiness—while you tackle the grand challenges that touch people’s lives each day. 

Through research, you study difficult problems without any guarantee that you will eventually find “the answer.” That means you learn patience, persistence, and perseverance.

Research experiences also help you:

  • Build relationships with faculty and graduate students who are studying topics of strong interest to you.
  • Explore research itself as a possible career path.
  • Develop expertise on a subject that fascinates you.
  • Make money and/or earn academic credit for your efforts.

The University of Minnesota is a top research institution with an international reputation. The opportunities for you to engage in research experiences here are almost endless.

Research Experience Grabs the Attention of Admissions Personnel

If you’re interested in graduate/professional school, research experiences will strengthen your application. Oftentimes, research experience is required for admission to graduate/professional programs.

Participating in Research at the U

Start by visiting the website of the Office of Undergraduate Research, where you’ll learn about the many opportunities available.

Take special note of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which gives second-, third-, and fourth-year students the funding necessary to conduct research or creative project with a faculty mentor. 

UROP provides a scholarship of up to $1,500 for approximately 120 hours of research, as well as funding of up to $300 for project-related expenses. Applications for the program are accepted twice a year—so you’ll need to plan ahead, as there are specific requirements to meet.

Many CLA departments also offer other opportunities to engage with faculty members through research practice, directed study, directed research, or independent study courses. 

You can also volunteer to help with research or find a paid on-campus job that involves research.

Getting Started with Research

Consider what subject you’re interested in studying, and then find a faculty member who is an expert in that area. You can:

  • Reach out to a faculty member you’ve had for a class.
  • Ask your academic department for recommendations.
  • Read faculty profiles on department websites.
  • Search Experts@Minnesota, a database featuring profiles of the many researchers at the U and their research topics, publications, and media appearances.

Sample email to a faculty member:

Hello Dr. Maxwell,

My name is Heidi Angen and I am contacting you because I took a course with you last semester and really learned a lot from you as an instructor. I particularly enjoyed when you discussed your research on women in politics. I was wondering if we could meet to discuss your research further and also to discuss if you have any opportunities for an undergraduate like myself to get involved and contribute to a future project? Thank you for considering!

Heidi Angen

Be sure as well to learn more about the UROP program, and to meet with a CLA career counselor for additional guidance.

You don’t need to have a completely formulated research plan. You just need an interest that matches the interests of a faculty member, along with a willingness to see how you could get involved.