A gloved hand holds up a petri dish with a red tinted culture.

Value of Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research is an original scholarly project that allows you to explore a topic of interest and communicate your findings to others. You can pursue research in any discipline, including humanities and the arts, during any year of your undergraduate career and your research will be guided by a faculty mentor. By engaging in research as an undergraduate, you will:

  • Enrich your educational experience
  • Have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor
  • Explore issues and methods in your field of interest
  • Gain valuable skills for graduate school, professional school and/or future careers
  • Build confidence
  • Improve your communication skills

Undergraduate Research Certificate Program

Sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Undergraduate Research Certificate provides an added credential to present to employers and graduate schools. Although the certificate will not appear on your transcript, you can add it to your resume. You will be provided a printed document showing completion of certificate requirements.

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Research Opportunities on Campus

At Illinois, there are research opportunities available in every college and in a variety of disciplines. It is important to note that you can do research outside your major.  You are not restricted to conducting research that is related to your degree.

You can choose from various types of research projects including:

  • An individual project - a thesis, independent study, or creative project that allows you to explore the unique topics that interest you.
  • A course-based research project - an individual or group class project designed to develop applied research skills.
  • An assisted research project - working closely with a faculty member or graduate student on an existing project to gain valuable training in how to conduct research.
  • Study abroad that incorporates research - taking your research abroad in a program designed with a research component.

Talk to faculty members, your academic advisor, and teaching assistants about your interest in research. The Office of Undergraduate Research provides many resources to help you: 

  • Identify research opportunities across campus
  • Fund your research
  • Present and publish your findings

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Research Opportunities Beyond Campus

You can also gain research experience at other institutions and through governmental agencies.

Big Ten Academic Alliance Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) is a gateway to graduate education at Big Ten universities. The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue graduate study and research careers. SROP helps prepare undergraduates for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors and enrichment activities.

Pathways to Science provides a searchable database of undergraduate research opportunties in the U.S.

National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Additionally, many summer undergraduate research opportunities can be uncovered simply by googling.

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