Undergraduate Research

Getting Involved in Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is a great way to enhance your understanding of a particular field or content area in a way that the traditional classroom setting would not fulfill. If you find yourself often thinking about a certain question or looking at something in the world and wondering why it is the way it is, conducting research is a great way to answer those type of questions! Some students enter college with a specific interest area in mind. Other students take one class and find themselves completely fascinated with a particular topic. There are no right or wrong ways to get involved – faculty and staff at Indiana University are happy to support students conducting undergraduate research in all fields, from the arts to the sciences and beyond. To see examples of what undergraduate students have been researching at IU, read some of our latest publications.

There are many ways to get involved in undergraduate research or creative activity at Indiana University. Remember you can pursue research interests even if they do not directly relate to your major. For frequently-asked questions related to undergraduate research at Indiana University, please refer to this FAQ website at IUCare. 

Departments

The easiest way to get involved is through the Department of the field or topic that interests you. Several departments on campus have procedures in place for getting students involved in research. These Departments include:

Anthropology

Astronomy

Biology

Chemistry

Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Physics

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Alternative Paths

If you’re department is not listed here, don’t worry! There are still other ways to get involved in undergraduate research. If your department of interest does not have a rigid program in place, it’s going to require a little legwork and resourcefulness on your part and this is a great way to get valuable experience creating and designing something yourself. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Talk to graduate and undergraduate students who are in research positions and ask them about how they became interested in doing research and what they do.
  • Make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss the topic you want to research.
  • Indiana University has an Individualized Major Program that gives you the freedom to create a multidisciplinary major that addresses issues and explores topics of your own choosing. The ability to select major courses from Indiana University’s many schools and departments puts you in charge of your education in ways that conventional majors don’t allow.

Honors Programs

Several academic departments offer the opportunity for motivated students to graduate with honors in their selected major. This process usually involves a series of honors classes and independent readings, usually culminating in an Honors Thesis during your senior year. An Honors Thesis is a specific research question that you develop and explore under the guidance of a faculty mentor. For more information on the Honors Programs for each department, see below: 

Departmental Honors Programs

Faculty

Sometimes the best way to get involved is just by talking to a Professor. If you find yourself in a class where you are completely captivated by a certain topic or interest area, make some time to meet the Professor during office hours to hear more about this area. If you find it is something that truly interests you, ask your Professor how you might get involved in undergraduate research on this topic. Even if they are not an expert on the topic, they likely know someone else at Indiana University who is.