Students who engage in research as undergraduates gain insight into the professional world, enhance their knowledge base and critical thinking skills, and better prepare themselves for graduate school. Research is a hands-on method to learn new ways to solve problems and thoroughly explore different subject areas. With faculty mentors, students receive guidance on research methods, resources, and issues common in different fields.
Working with a faculty member on an existing research project is a great way to gain valuable experience in conducting research. Students learn important methods, skills, and tips on how to approach common challenges in research. Students also get the opportunity to work closely with prominent faculty at one of the nation's leading public research universities. NEXT STEPS
Some students choose to pursue their own independent research project, which may have grown out of work on another project or the student's own passion for a particular area. The most common form of independent research is an honors thesis, but all students can undertake their own research project. Ideally, a student meets regularly with a faculty mentor who provides advice and encouragement. NEXT STEPS
Within the independent research project scope, there are many ways to approach a project. A student may be conducting research on their own or working on an honors thesis; their project may have developed through studying abroad, an internship, or community service.
Course credit is offered through the Office of Undergraduate Research for students who are either assisting with a faculty research project or conducting one of their own. Also, many Liberal Arts departments offer a course credit option for students pursuing research. In most cases, students register for an upper-division conference course in their chosen major, and use that time to pursue their research project. Students pursuing a conference course research project can opt to have a faculty member be their research mentor. For more information visit the Course Credit page.
All departments conduct research. And while a majority of Liberal Arts departments offer students the opportunity to conduct research (conference courses for credit or research projects as part of the degree plan), there are a few departments that do not have research as part of their curriculum; but even for students in those departments, independent research is still an option. Ideally, students who pursue independent research should have a mentor to advise them on their research.
Students are welcome to begin research as early as their freshman year. In fact, the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program is specifically designed to immerse first- and second-year students in research. The purpose of programs like the Apprenticeship Program is to expose students to research early in their academic career so they may be better positioned to conduct their own independent research projects as third- and fourth-year students.
Many students postpone the pursuit of research projects until later in their academic career because their interests are more developed at that point. Simply put: there is no "right time" to do research.
Unless students are doing research to fulfill a degree requirement, they are not obligated to present or publish their research. But there are many scholarships, grants, and stipends, both through the College and University that offer financial incentives for students to present their findings. Also, if a student is considering applying to graduate school, presenting or publishing research as an undergraduate can be exceptional experience that makes a resume or vita stand out. Consider participating in Undergraduate Research Week.
Undergraduate researchers at The University of Texas at Austin will find many opportunities for funding and recognition. There are College and University scholarships and awards available, ranging from $500 to $20,000 to help with the cost of research. Each scholarship and award has its own criteria, deadlines, and application. For more details about each of these awards please contact the awarding department.
Any student at The University of Texas at Austin can conduct research. All honors students are required to conduct a research project, so it is a common misconception that these are the only students permitted to do research as undergraduates