Why should I care about undergraduate research?

Research takes time and energy. Research challenges what you believe about your field. Research can fail. So why should you get involved? In what ways can research improve your college career? What does the Utah State research programs offer that other universities don’t? Read below to learn all the ways that research can benefit you, from increasing your GPA to preparing you for life after college.

FACTS of Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research can help you increase your GPA

Involvement in undergraduate research can help you in your coursework. Our students experience the following improvements:

  • A faculty mentor in their field who can help answer questions
  • Practice in critical thinking and data management
  • Insight into their particular research interest area
  • Support through the Office of Research
  • Access to trainings and workshops on professional development topics

Undegraduate Research adds to your career experience

Are you thinking of grad school? Are you going straight into a career after college? Regardless of what your plans after college are, experience in undergraduate research can help you get there. Undergraduate research is a hands-on experience where get to be directly involved in your field without needing a bachelor’s degree first. This allows you to meet professional individuals in your field at conferences and networking events. This also allows you to learn how to use discipline-specific software and management sites. Students who get involved in undergraduate research also have experiences that they can add to a resume or CV. To learn more about how to leverage these experiences, check out USU Career Services.

Undergraduate researchers meet more individuals in their field prior to graduation

Undergraduate research gives you the opportunity to meet professionals, researchers, and professors in your field while still in school. Read the list below to see where you can meet the people who are shaping your field!

  • Professional conferences
  • Undergraduate Research Conferences and Symposia
  • Faculty Mentorship
  • Graduate Student Mentorship
  • University networking events

Undergraduate Research gives you access to more resources

As an undergraduate researcher, you will be working closely with faculty members, graduate students, and other undergraduate students. This means that you will have the unique opportunity to learn from experts in your field, students who have successfully graduated and moved up to grad school, and students who are learning with you. This automatically gives you access to new areas of knowledge.

The Office of Research at USU also provides many different resources for researchers, such as funding or workshop opportunities. To learn more about this, check out our For Students section.

MYTHS of Undergraduate Research

Research is only for Science-y majors

Undergraduate research is for all majors! We have undergraduates from every college on campus who are involved in research- including the College of Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In fact, these diverse groups create fresh perspectives on age-old problems and this can result in some of the most innovative research on campus!

Research is a waste of time

It is no myth that research can take up a good chunk of time. However, gaining experience that directly relates to what you are planning on going into is never a waste of time. The skills that you learn while involved in undergraduate research (such as data management, communication skills, technical writing, team work, developing a research question, etc.) can directly impact your coursework. Being involved in research provides you with another set of skills and resources that you can rely on while dealing with your coursework.

I have to work a job in addition to school. I don't have time for research

Our office exists to help you find opportunities that fit your particular situation. If you need a source of income, but you would also love to be involved in research, we can do our best to help make that work. In 2019 we debuted a collaboration with Career Services called Research Opportunities through Work Study (ROWS). Students who qualify for Federal Work Study can be paired with paid research assistantships. If this is an opportunity that is interesting to you, please check out our ROWS site. We also have a ton of other great ways to find funding to conduct research.

I am not smart enough for undergraduate research

We have no GPA requirements for undergraduate research. Involvement in research is not an exclusive club only reserved for Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Anyone and everyone is capable of involvement. It just comes down to finding a research position that is right for you. Our office can help you find a research position that is as supportive and helpful as you feel you need. If you are interested in learning more about how we match students up with the best research opportunities for them, please check out our getting started resources.

Utah State's Undergraduate Research Programs

The URCO Grant

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) Grant Program, funded by the Office of Research, was established in 1975 to support worthy independent student projects. In the summer of 2013, the program was expanded to include the summer term and allow salary to be included in budgets. In the summer of 2014, the summer program was unified, and the URCO programs’ scope and budget were expanded.

Students who apply for an URCO Grant are evaluated on a competitive basis to receive a $1000 scholarship and up to $1000 for research costs. If you are interested, learn more about the URCO Grant.

Undergraduate Research Travel Awards

The Office of Research provides funds to support student travel to present research at conferences. Students may request $200 for a regional conference, $300 for a national conference, or $400 for an international conference. These funds must be matched by another university unit, such as a PI, a department, or a college.

Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Utah State offers many fellowships, two of which are sponsored by the Office of Research. The Undergraduate Research Fellowship is for incoming freshman and sophomore students who want to be vigorously involved in undergraduate research during their time at USU. The Peak Summer Research Fellowship is for any student who wishes to work on original research during summer. Both programs offer funding on a competitive basis. Learn more about these fellowship programs.

Undergraduate Research in Action