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Office of Undergraduate Research FAQs

The best way to get started is to find a professor to work with. Professors usually have a project (or two) already in progress that they need help with or they may have some unique spinoff idea from their research that they want to try. Schedule a meeting with them and have an open mind to their ideas.

There are many ways. Some professors advertise open positions in their classes or through their departments. Others prefer being emailed. Others know you are committed if you show up at their office door. Really, the best way is to find a professor whose work you think is interesting (check their personal websites or recent publications) and reach out in one or more of the ways described above. Below is a link to a “proper” way to introduce yourself or your interest in joining their project via email. If it’s a professor you have never met in a department where you have had courses, it might help to let them know who you know in that department or in that field of study. Giving professors names of people they can reach out to for a recommendation can be important.

Sample Email

Subject Example

Interested in discussing Undergraduate Research possibilities

Greeting Example


Message Example

My name is XXXXX XXXXX, and I am a (freshman/sophomore/junior/senior) majoring in XXXXX. I have recently completed (insert a class or sequence of classes) and in our course discussion, your research was mentioned by Prof. XXXXX when they were discussing XXXXX. I then found your website and looking at your core research interests, I wanted to inquire of the possibility of learning more and/or joining your group (as an undergraduate researcher/and do and undergraduate creative arts project under your guidance). This upcoming semester I will be taking (15) credits and have room in my schedule on (Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 12:30-4 p.m.) for this (activity/research).

If there is space in your group and/or a project I could join, would it be possible to set up a quick conversation or for me to (attend one of you upcoming group meetings/meet with a current undergraduate researcher in your group/meet with a graduate student or post-doc in your group) to discuss potential projects?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back,

(Your Name)

No, not at all. Many projects venture far beyond a specific topic or major and dive into aspects you may not ever have thought of. Many could benefit from your separate point of view or from the techniques you have learned in your major. That said, some may be more appropriate if you have had similar pre-requisite courses as needed in that major.

That depends. Some positions have funding (from grants or from Work-Study), others offer Undergraduate Research or Creative Activity / Independent Study course credit. Most often students begin their research or creative activity for course credit and funding begins later. Make sure you and your faculty have this worked out. In many of our research labs on campus students are not allowed (safety violation) to volunteer. Make sure there is a compensation (either credit or pay) set up before you begin your research or creative activity.

Yes. Many departments have course CRNs that students can re-enroll over multiple semesters. Generally, students do not receive more than 1 or 2 credits each semester for their projects. You are students first and your coursework is important. Your research and creative activities are engaging — but do not let them interfere with your coursework.

The OUR offers three types of funding — semester awards, SURF awards and travel awards. The semester awards provide $925 in project funds. Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) awards currently provide $6000/10 weeks of the summer. $5000 goes to the student as a stipend and $1,000 is provided for project funds ($75 will be held back for the poster fee). Travel awards provide up to $800 for travel expenses.

Application Due dates:

Semester Awards: Spring Awards — Nov. 1; Fall Awards — April 15.

SURF Awards Due Dates: Feb. 15

Travel Awards — Rolling

No, you do not need to be a STEM major to receive funding. The OUR funds students from all colleges for many research or creative ideas. The rules are the same. You will have a faculty mentor and you must write a proposal.

The McNair Program provides research and scholarly activities designed to prepare students for doctoral studies. Under the U.S. Department of Education, the McNair Program is funded to serve students who are first-generation and low-income or underrepresented in their field. Click here for more eligibility information.

To apply for funding, you will need to first have found an advisor. View the application and guidelines for funding. Work with your advisor to develop a potential research proposal with both timeline and budget. The application includes a cover page, a 3-4 page written proposal with references, and a budget.

Technically, you can apply for funding as soon as you have identified a faculty advisor and have your proposal ready to submit. Be mindful of the application deadlines for the award you would like to receive.

The OUR is working with faculty to develop I-SURE, the Idaho Spotlight on Undergraduate Research Experiences. We are hoping to entice more faculty and students to load up their stories to I-SURE. Contact the us for more details at