Undergraduate Research - FAQs     

Q - Who can do research/creative work as an undergraduate?

Anyone and everyone!  Although some people mistakenly think that research opportunities are limited to the sciences or to Honors students, there are research opportunities and independent studies available in all departments, including the arts & humanities and social sciences.


The University of Iowa maintains a commitment to providing opportunities for undergraduate students from all majors and backgrounds to pursue research, scholarship and creative performance.


See examples here!

Q - Why should I consider doing research/creative work as an undergraduate?


It is a great way to learn more about both yourself and your chosen discipline.  There are opportunities to perform in-depth studies, gain transferable skills, develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, define academic and professional interests, and form relationships with mentors, professors, and other students. An added bonus to your university education!

See what other students have said about getting involved!

Q - I'm not sure what kind of research I'm interested in.  What should I do?


By deciding to begin gathering information, you’ve already accomplished one of the harder steps. Many students discover that once they decide to get involved in undergraduate research, they become aware of opportunities that they simply hadn’t noticed before.


Before beginning your search for a mentor, you should ask yourself some questions to identify the area you’d like to work in. Consider why you’d like to get involved in research, what you hope to gain from that involvement, and perhaps most importantly, what you are interested in working on and why.  These questions should help narrow your thought process and lead you to a departmental website in the area that interests you.


You might become curious about more than one topic through your courses, current events, or by reflecting on things that really interest you.  Your next steps will involve finding out what is going on in your area(s) of interest, and figuring out how you can get started.  

Q - Can I get academic credit for research?  Can I get paid for research?  Are there research classes?

Yes! Get more information here about credit and pay.   Look here for info on classes and certificates

Q - Can I pursue a project outside of my major department or with a faculty member I haven't had in class?


Yes! Students are not limited to pursuing projects within their declared major, and are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary projects that span any and all disciplines. Please note that occasionally students encounter difficulties if they need course credit within their major department for research that is conducted in other disciplines.

Q - When should I get started?


It is possible to get involved in research in almost any phase of your academic career.  That said, getting involved earlier rather than later will give you a chance to develop a lasting relationship with your mentor, and will allow you more time to take advantage of as many research experiences as possible during your time here.


However, for first year students, we do suggest a taking a semester to settle into university life before making a commitment to research.  Use that time to try and narrow down what you are interested in doing and start making connections.

Q - A faculty/staff mentor? Do I have to have one?

Yes - learn more here!

Q - What is the time commitment for research/creative work?


There are no set time commitments set for undergraduate researchers.  In general, students work on their research between 5-10 hours per week during the regular academic year.  During the summer, students may work between 15-40 hours per week.


Faculty know that you are a student first and are flexible when it comes to setting your research work schedule.

Q - Can my research experience count for University Honors second-level requirements?

Yes! - Check here for more information.

Q - I'm already doing research.  Where can I present my work?

ICRU hosts several events every year for students to present their work.  Join the ICRU Listserv or check this website for more information.

Q - I'm interested! Now, how do I get started?


There are a multitude of ways to get information about research happening on campus.  How you get started is up to you. Here are a few ideas!


  • Make an appointment with the ICRU staff or attend one of the information sessions about how to get involved. We can help you get started.


  • Choose courses that teach research methodologies and/or include research experiences.


  • Talk with faculty in your courses or major about their research experience/what research in your field looks like


  • Ask graduate teaching assistants about their research interests and about other research on campus



  • Check out faculty biographies and research profiles on departmental websites and make an appointment to speak with professors whose work interests you.


  • Find out what students with interests similar to yours have done by looking at the research they have presented at the Fall & Spring Undergraduate Research Festivals, and plan to attend the next festival (held every December and April)



  • Check out Jobnet and research postings on the ICRU website. 


  • Join the ICRU listserv - a biweekly email full of information about research related events, awards, and position listings. 


  • Go to research talks and lectures.