UA undergraduate research opportunities are available to students who wish to pursue a faculty mentored, hands-on learning experience beyond the classroom setting. There are a variety of ways students can become involved in research. Some of the undergraduate research programs are quite competitive and have strict eligibility and application requirements whereas other methods of research involvement are not as restrictive. A high GPA or an impressive résumé is not necessarily required to become involved. Most faculty research mentors are interested in working with students who are hard-working, persistent, and dedicated to the project. Being involved in an undergraduate research experience can give a student an opportunity to explore their major discipline more extensively or an opportunity to work in another discipline. Keep in mind, many faculty members require prerequisite coursework; whereas, other faculty will provide training as needed for the research project.
Why do Research?
There are many benefits to participating in undergraduate research. These advantages will advance you academically, professionally, and personally. The list below outlines some of the benefits of undergraduate research.
- Discover what area of science or mathematics truly interests you
- Gain a deeper understanding of science through hands-on experience
- Learn valuable skills to help you in your field of study
- Build an impressive research resume´
- Develop close relationships with faculty and students who share your interests
- Become an expert on your research topic
- Develop teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills
- Explore possible careers and receive mentoring about how to achieve your career goals
The 2008 exit surveys of graduating seniors from the College of Science indicate that over 60% of students had participated in a faculty mentored research project. Undergraduate research involves commitment from both you and your faculty mentor. What you gain from this experience ultimately depends on your work and dedication to the project.
There are two great ways to find research opportunities on campus at the UA:
- Apply for a formal research program: You can find formal research opportunities on the College of Science Undergraduate Research website. We also send them out frequently through the EEB Undergraduate email listserv.
- Contact a faculty member: You can find faculty members on campus who need undergraduate students to help in their labs. Some great ways to find out more are through the EEB Faculty website, BIO5's BioConnect, or simply by chatting with your professors. Once you've found someone who you're interested in working with, email them to let them know why you're interested and find out if they have any open positions.
Getting Credit for Research
Research for credit allows participation in research and earns University credit at the same time. For many students, directed research can fulfill particular elective requirements. The time commitment is generally 3hrs/week for each unit of credit enrolled in.
In order to get University credit, an Independent Study/ Directed Research Proposal Form must be submitted to your academic advisor by the 10th day of the semester. Your advisor will register you for the course as well as assign the amount of credit to be earned.
The following are the various independent study/ directed research credit options:
199, 299, 399, 498, 499 Independent Study (Credit varies)
Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work.
The following qualify for Independent Study units:
- Performing routine tasks
- Data Collection
- Data Entry
- Lab maintenance
- Assisting with a graduate student thesis project
- Conducting internships outside of the university
- Doing directed readings
Students do not receive a letter for independent study.
Grades Available: S/P, C, D, E, I, W
May be repeated an unlimited number of times; consult with department for possible restrictions.
392, 492 Directed Research (Credit varies)
Individual or small group research under the guidance of a faculty member.
To receive directed research units, students should be making some intellectual contribution to an existing project or should be engaged in their own research. This should not include kinds of experiences where the student is simply performing routine tasks. In order to receive this credit, you must state your product when submitting the proposal.
Appropriate products include: a paper, poster or presentation to the lab group demonstrating the depth of your knowledge gained and showcasing your research. A combination of productions is encouraged. Other products are acceptable as approved by your EEB advisor.
Directed Research Units are intended to be a personalized research experience in which a student explores a concept while incorporating the knowledge or investigative techniques learned during his or her undergraduate career. This experience should be relevant to the EEB or Biology major and course work. It should also further the student’s understanding of the discipline in some way. This typically includes research into and analysis of information relevant to the student’s degree. Students should be engaged in the subject matter and in the theory. Frequent contact with faculty members and/or principal investigators is required to lend to a more advanced engagement with the material.
Students receive a letter grade for Directed Research units.
Grades Available: A, B, C, D, E
May be repeated for a total of 12 credits.
299H, 399H, 498H, 499H Independent Study - Honors (Credit varies)
Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work. Students must be in The Honors College to use these course numbers.
Grades Available: A, B, C, D, E, I, W
May be repeated an unlimited number of times; consult with department for possible restrictions. The EEB department requires these units to adhere to the honors policy for credit listed at https://www.honors.arizona.edu/indidivual-studiesresearchinternship :
"Honors independent studies (identified by an “H” after the course number) are different from the non-Honors sections in that they receive a regular letter grade upon completion, signifying that the depth and intensity of the work exceeds the scope of a regular independent study. When choosing to register a student for an Honors independent study, faculty should take the following into consideration:
An Honors independent study should be qualitatively different from the non-Honors independent study normally undertaken in the department. Even in the laboratory setting, the Honors student taking an Honors section of independent study should be doing demonstrably different work than students registered for a non-Honors section of 199-499. This difference, indicating that the independent study is worthy of the honors designation, and therefore of a grade, should be indicated and described on the departmental form for credit. This “demonstrably different work” should mean not additional assignments, but a deeper, more challenging and more intense engagement with the subject matter or work of the independent study. Faculty in individual departments shall determine, along with their colleagues in the discipline, what this specific and more challenging work shall be, but in general it might involve some or all of the following: engagement with theory, closer and/or more frequent contact with faculty members and/or principal investigators, interrogation of underlying assumptions and received wisdom, more advanced engagement with the material, faster progress through the curriculum for the course, and the like. Only active University Honors students should be registered for Honors independent study."
In order to receive Honors Independent Study credit, you must state your product when submitting the proposal. Appropriate products include: a paper, poster or presentation to the lab group demonstrating the depth of your knowledge gained and showcasing your research. A combination of productions is encouraged. Other products are acceptable as approved by your EEB advisor.
489H Honors Thesis (3 Credits)
The EEB Department requires Honors Thesis units to adhere to the honors policy as described here: https://www.honors.arizona.edu/capstone. Honors Thesis units are subject to an earlier deadline and more rigorous standards than Honors Independent Study. In short:
"The Senior Honors Thesis is the culmination of a student's participation in The Honors College at the University of Arizona. It is intended to be a personalized research experience in which a student explores a concept while incorporating the knowledge or investigative techniques learned during his or her undergraduate career.
It is expected that the student obtain a level of depth within the thesis topic equivalent to a point between a large undergraduate research paper and a Master's thesis. Not only should the thesis synthesize and build upon existing scholarship, but it should also further the discipline's understanding of the subject in some way. As such, the thesis demands a minimum of six units of work – three units of Departmental Honors 498H per semester usually taken in the senior year. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to complete all six-thesis units in a single semester."
Students receive a letter grade for Honors Thesis units. The student will receive a letter grade for each semester's work. The Honors College recommends that the work and the grading be partitioned so that all six units do not hinge upon the completed thesis.
The EEB Department requires Honors Thesis units to cover a topic related to the major. Topic relevance and appropriate level of rigor (judged by student’s intellectual contribution and original data collection + analysis) are evaluated by the EEB Undergraduate Advisors.