Undergraduate research provides students with first-hand knowledge of research design and execution, the opportunity to be mentored by faculty and graduate students, and a way to apply and expand upon the knowledge gained in their foundation courses.
Research is academically challenging and lab spaces are limited. Therefore, it is ideal for students with a specific goal of applying to either graduate or professional programs. Undergraduate research is not a Psychology degree program requirement, and we cannot accommodate all requests for research assistant positions.
Applying for a position
Begin exploring options for undergraduate research early. It takes time to review faculty research and labs, so students should begin this process at least a semester before they plan to begin.
Review the department’s research labs (links below). Identify labs you have an interest in joining, and contact the faculty member directly.
Interviewing for a position
Labs may request an interview with applicants, who should respond quickly and be prepared to discuss their specific interest in the lab’s research and how it connects to the students graduate or professional school and career plans. An interview invitation does not guarantee a position in a lab. Keep in mind that most faculty are looking for at least a one year commitment from students.
Earning academic credit
Student who have accepted a research assistant position in a lab have two opportunities to earn academic credit hours: the department’s PSYC 4800 or a CURO Research/Thesis Courses (e.g. PSYC 4960R, 4970R, 4980R, 4990R). PSYC 3980 and 3990 are pre-requisites for all these courses, and all are Permission of Department. Students should discuss which course option is appropriate with faculty mentor or research lab leadership. Note* Some faculty require a semester of volunteer hours in a lab before allowing course credit for their involvement.
PSYC 4800 is appropriate when a student is involved in a narrow aspect of the research process (e.g. only data entry). PSYC 4800 is 1-3 credits, and credit hours are based on the number of hours a student commits to working in the lab. Each credit hour earned requires three weekly work hours. Only three credits can be completed per semester, but the course can be repeated for a total of nine hours overall. PSYC 4800 does not require a major assignment/written work and is, thus, graded S/U. 4800 satisfies the university’s Experiential Learning requirement. The PSYC 4800 online application can be accessed here.
PSYC 4960R-4980R is appropriate when a student is involved in research from multiple elements (e.g. data collection, data entry, and data analysis). These courses are 1-6 credits, and credit hours are based on the number of hours a student commits to working in the lab. Each credit hours earned requires three weekly work hours so that 1 credit would be earned for working 3 hrs/p/week , 2 credits for 6 hrs, 3 credits for 9 hrs/p/wk. These courses must be faculty-mentored and must require at least one significant written assignment, graded on an A-F scale. The student and faculty member will create a ”syllabi” outlining how these hours will be devoted and the syllabi will be submitted for departmental approval. 4960R-4980R satisfy the university’s Experiential Learning requirement. The Psychology Department's CURO Research Course application can be accessed here.
PSYC 4990R is appropriate only for students writing a thesis or producing other professional capstone products that are the culmination of the 4960R- 4980R sequence. CURO’s 4990R Research Course application can be accessed here. This application will serve as the syllabi.
Psychology Research Labs
Behavioral & Brain Sciences