Research Courses

You may think that you can only get research experience by volunteering or being hired in a lab, clinic, or studio, but that is not true at USU. Many USU instructors incorporate research – real, hands-on, open-ended experience in the discipline’s methods of discovery – into their course syllabi. What’s more, many programs of study offer and even require courses that are principally research-focused.

Talk to academic advisors and instructors about research-based coursework in your intended major, and you may be surprised to learn about all the ways you can earn academic credit for being involved in research.

There are several ways in which you can tell if a course is research-based or includes elements of research.

Most departments have a course designated 4900. These may be senior seminars, research practicums, advanced studio courses focused on producing an original body of work, capstone courses, or independent research-for-credit courses. What they all have in common is a focus on earning credit for doing research in the discipline.

Look for “research” in the course title. A quick search in the current USU catalog on the word research yields hundreds of courses, many of which are graduate level, but about a third of which are at the 4000 level (advanced undergraduate). Some are more general introductions, for example ENGL 3470 Approaches to Research in English Studies, which also fulfills the QI (quantitative intensive) general education requirement. However, there are also introductory courses at the 1000 level that focus on research. Engineering students can take ENGR 1500 – Research Experience for Undergraduate Students, which puts you in an active research lab as an apprentice.

Check for the Research, Scholarship, and Creative Inquiry intensive course designation (RSCI). Beginning in 2023, instructors can apply for this designation if their course meets criteria of high engagement with research practices in the discipline. These are courses that focus 50% or more of their content on research.

"The assignments weren't about wasting time or doing unnecessary work, but actually related to our course work and provided structure to our future goals. I appreciated the constant communication in class with other students and with the professor. I felt that this course was actually about developing my capacity to do research rather than just completing assignments. I really liked that the student research symposium was required because it helped me understand the process of what it takes to do research and how to do it again in the future."

Student in a RSCI course on the anonymous course evaluation survey

Undergraduate students present their research at the 2023 Fall Student Research Symposium. Photo by Aaron Fortin

Research Training for Students

Becoming a researcher isn’t just about spending time in a lab, taking a class, or working with a professor on a project. The practice of research, no matter what discipline, helps you develop a whole set of highly-transferable skills that are in high demand in the workplace, regardless of whether you pursue a career in research. 

USU’s Student Research Program can help you access the training you need, for free, including: