Download the Career Advancement funding opportunities guide for a list of grant opportunities across campus.
Whether you work as a faculty research assistant or pursue your own independent project, research is an excellent way to develop new skills, build your professional network, and gain valuable experience for your resume. If you intend to apply for competitive graduate programs, research experience is essential. Many employers outside of academia will also value the skills you have gained through research.
Career Advancement can help you find research opportunities and secure funding for your own projects. Make an appointment with a career adviser to discuss your interests in-depth. You are also highly encouraged to meet with your College Adviser and faculty members working in your field of interest to discuss potential research opportunities.
Finding a Research Opportunity
The best ways to find a research opportunity are to apply for posted positions or to contact a faculty member whose research interests you and ask if you can get involved with their projects.
Searching for Posted Research Positions
On-campus research opportunities are posted on UChicago Handshake. To view these positions:
2. Click “Jobs”
3. Under “Job Type,” select “On-Campus Student Employment”
4. Browse the positions and click on any that interest you; you can use the search bar to search for particular types of opportunities (e.g., “research assistant,” “biology,” etc.)
5. If you’re interested in applying for a position, click the green “Apply Now!” button to upload your resume and cover letter
6. We highly recommend having your application materials reviewed by a Career Advancement adviser. Schedule an appointment with a career adviser through UChicago Handshake
Contacting Faculty for Research Opportunities
You can also get involved with research by reaching out to faculty members to discuss whether you can collaborate with them. Below are some suggestions for identifying and contacting faculty:
1. Explore your interests. What do you want to research? Are you hoping to gain any particular skills or understand a particular topic better?
2. Identify faculty who are working on projects that interest you. If possible, try to get a “warm lead.” Talk to your professors, your teaching assistants, your department’s director of undergraduate studies, your College Adviser, and your peers who are already participating in research for suggestions on which faculty members might be a good fit for your interests.
3. If you can’t get a warm lead, another great strategy is to browse faculty profiles on departmental websites and review the list of UChicago research institutes to find faculty who are working on projects that match with your research interests.
4. When you’re ready to contact a faculty member, send them a brief, polite e-mail. Introduce yourself, explain your interest in their research, and request an in-person meeting to discuss the possibility of working with them as a research assistant.
5. Don’t be discouraged if the faculty member isn’t able to take you on. Ask if they have any suggestions for colleagues who might be willing to work with you.
Make an appointment with a Career Advancement adviser if you need assistance at any stage of this process.
Funding for Unpaid Research Opportunities
Career Advancement offers several grant programs for students who are working as an unpaid faculty research assistant or who are interested in funding their own independent research project:
- The Liew Family College Research Fellows Fund provides grants for academic-year research assistantships with UChicago faculty members
- The College Summer Research Fellows Fund funds summer research projects for second- and third-year students who have a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D in a liberal arts or sciences discipline.
- The PRISM Research Grant supports independent summer research for students in particular majors.
- The Seidel Scholars Grant provides funding for innovative and unconventional professional experiences that are connected to a student’s major and career interests.
- The International Experience Grant provides funding for summer research assistantships abroad for undergraduate students, including graduating fourth-year students.
- The Summer Action Grant provides funding for U.S.-based research assistantships to 1st -3rd year undergraduate students.
- The Jeff Metcalf Fellowship Grant for Internships in the U.S. and the Jeff Metcalf Global Fellowship Grant both offer a limited number of grants to undergraduate students who plan to intern or conduct research in the United States and abroad during the summer. Applications for these grants open on UChicago Handshake in winter quarter.
- The College Research Fellows Program provides faculty members with funding to hire undergraduate research assistants. Students cannot apply to this program directly, but they should encourage their faculty supervisors to apply!
Each grant has their own specific eligibility requirements and application procedures, and student grant applications are reviewed holistically. The criteria below may be used as a guideline for the application review process:
- Substance of the opportunity; internships and research opportunities should fulfill the requirements of the Jeff Metcalf Internship Program.
- Mission of the organization, and goals and responsibilities of the internship or research position should be clearly outlined and demonstrate the quality and depth of the experience.
- Alignment of the internship or research opportunity to the student’s professional and academic goals. Materials should clearly convey how the internship will advance the student’s skills, experience, and knowledge and/or is relevant to the student’s post-graduation success.
- Students must have access to a direct supervisor or faculty member who will be physically present where the student is working, and provide ongoing support and mentorship.
- Consideration will be given to student’s resume, class year, major, and past professional experiences and extracurricular activities as it relates to the opportunity.
- Coherence, accuracy, and organization of the student’s resume, cover letter, and other supporting materials.
- If applicable, strength of letter of recommendation.
- Ability to describe why funding is important for the student’s situation. For grants that request this information, extenuating circumstances or hardships may be taken into consideration.