Undergraduate Research Program


Benefits of research

Participating in undergraduate research can provide opportunities for you to:

  • Work one-on-one with faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers
  • Contribute to the creation of new knowledge
  • Sharpen your critical and analytical thinking skills
  • Complement and extend your classroom learning
  • Enhance your confidence in your abilities
  • Prepare for graduate-level study
  • Explore your interests and clarify your career goals

Some of the greatest benefits of being involved in research is the insight it gives you on:

  • How to learn
  • How new knowledge is created
  • What you can accomplish when actively engaging your own research questions

Deciding on research

“Research has helped me connect more surely with my strengths and weaknesses; I have changed my majors to better reflect my passions.”
– Athena Canones Epilepsia (Technical Communication)

Before getting involved in a research project with a faculty, consider your goals, interests, and time commitments.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I hope to gain through my research experience?
  • What are my interests?
  • What do I know about research in my field?
  • How much time can I realistically commit to working on a research project?
  • Are there particular skills I need to aid me in my research project?
  • Are there courses I should take before doing a particular research project?
  • What type of learning environment do I prefer?

Whether you are ready for research depends on your willingness to take intellectual risks, your interest level, and persistence, in addition to your background knowledge. If you are intellectually curious about a topic and are willing to work hard to learn and master knowledge and new skills, then you are probably ready for a research experience.

Keep in mind that if you are a beginner with few skills, the type of project you can undertake will be limited; however, projects suitable for beginners exist in many disciplines. Also, if you have two quarters or less remaining at UW, it may be too late for you to tackle an ambitious project. So visit the Undergraduate Research Program as soon as possible, no matter what your level of expertise!

To aid students who are deciding on research, the Undergraduate Research Program conducts information sessions on undergraduate research every autumn, winter and spring quarter. Registration for these sessions is recommended.

Also, if you are a faculty or FIG/TRIG leader who would like the URP to conduct an information session for your class, email urp@uw.edu with your preferred dates and times.

About mentoring

Mentoring relationships benefit both undergraduates and faculty, develop over time, and enable:

  • Commitment to scholarly development
  • Engagement in collaborative inquiry

Mentoring relationships also encourage:

  • Positive environments, which encourage questions and foster curiosity
  • Consideration of new or alternative approaches
  • Constructive, reciprocal feedback

And often provide:

  • Guidance for the undergraduate in making important research or related career decisions
  • Oversight of the undergraduate’s research methods and practices
  • Up-to-date knowledge of available resources and funding
  • Support in sharing and publicly presenting research

All of which supports the enjoyment of active participation in research!

Remember: the quality and character of mentoring relationships varies across discipline and academic departments. Factors that influence mentoring relationships include time, experience, individual preferences and skill sets, and the number of research participants.

When selecting a potential mentor, ask yourself:

  • What are my scholarly interests and career goals?
  • What faculty shares my interests?
  • What do I expect from a research mentor?
  • What is my preferred research environment?
  • What type of training do I want?
  • What skills do I want to develop?
  • Who do I enjoy working with?
  • How does mentoring fit into my conception of research?

To answer these questions, you might:

  • Check department web sites and read faculty profiles
  • Visit web sites dedicated to research at UW (e.g., The Office of Research)
  • Drop by during a potential faculty mentor’s office hours to chat about her or his research
  • Read UW faculty publications
  • Email urp@uw.edu to make an appointment to learn more.