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Undergraduate Research

There are many undergraduate research opportunities available with different faculty in our department. Students typically receive 1-3 credits per semester as a research assistant. Research credit usually counts as experience credit (PSYC 494, COMM 494) or directed study (PSYC 499, COMM 499). You must receive permission from the faculty member before signing up for research credit. After permission is granted, the main office can place permission on your account for registration.

Steps to Become an Undergraduate Research Assistant

Think about what you want to do—now and after you graduate.

  1. Enrolling in research credit (PSYC494/COMM 494/ORGS 494) can offer multiple benefits:
    • Learn specific skills, such as: developing research plans and proposals; conducting literature searches; learning methods for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data; and preparing presentations, manuscripts, and reports.
    • Learn general skills, such as learning how to organize complex projects, practicing working in teams, and developing leadership abilities.
    • Build your resume and build connections with faculty members who can provide advice and letters of recommendations that may help you secure employment or admission to graduate programs.
  2. Approach research as an opportunity to acquire the types of skills and assets outlined above, and to recognize that you may not be able to investigate the exact topics that most intrigue you (and are very unlikely to have opportunities to pursue an independent program of research).
  3. Positions are competitive. Think at least a semester ahead and don't wait until the semester has already started to search for a research position.

Visit our current faculty members page. Read about the faculty backgrounds, research project, and focus areas to identify several who have research opportunities that interest you.

If you’ve not taken a class from a particular professor, perhaps attend one of their lectures. Speak with other students who have been research assistants. Ideally, you will identify faculty members who have an active lab, interests similar to your own, and a history of working successfully with undergraduates and supporting their professional development. Be open to learning and exploring opportunities!

Determine how many hours per week, weeks per semester, and semesters per year you can dedicate to being an RA. Typically, you are expected to devote at least three hours per week for each credit hour of research assistantship you would be registered for. Faculty members can provide more details regarding time commitments and when you would need to be available.

Email or visit during their office hours. Be sure to identify the project and some of the information you have learned about their research. Describe, or include a resume, to detail your year in school, major, relevant courses you have taken, and any relevant training you have acquired. Request a meeting to talk more about the project.

  • Plan for a successful meeting. As with any interview situation, be engaged, punctual, prepared, and personable. Clearly state that you are interested in being a research assistant and why you qualify for the position. Answer questions honestly and have questions ready for them. Ask for decision date and thank them for their time.
  • Have a backup plan. If the professor does not need help, you have lost nothing and gained experience in asking. Ask if he or she knows of someone with similar interests who is looking for help, or simply approach the next person on your list.

Who will you be reporting to? What will your specific duties be? What will your specific hours be? What do they consider an "A" performance? Are there additional books or articles they recommend that you read? 

Seize opportunities to describe your work to others, and discuss with your mentor opportunities to help present the research within the university or at other venues such as conferences.

Psychology & Communication

Physical Address:
206 Student Health Center

Mailing Address:
Psychology & Communication
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3043
Moscow, ID 83844-3043

Phone: 208-885-6324

Fax: 208-885-7710


Web: Psychology and Communication