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Getting Started in Research

Getting Started in Research Workshops

LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research hosts workshops on finding undergraduate research opportunities.  Hosted by our Undergraduate Research Ambassadors these workshops serve as a way for students to ask students about getting started in research. Check our Workshops & Informationals page to see the upcoming schedule.

Research Facts

  • Undergraduate research exists in every department and college at Texas A&M.
  • 20-30% of graduating students participated in undergraduate research.
  • You do NOT have to perform research in only your department or major
  • Some common misconceptions are that research is only for students in science and engineering, students planning to go to graduate school, or students with the highest GPRs. None of these are true.
Any student with curiosity, motivation, and enthusiasm can participate in undergraduate research. So, how do you get started?

Undergraduate Research Takes Many Forms

The first thing to realize is that there are a variety of ways to engage in undergraduate research:
  • Research Course Credit: Typically listed as 291 or 491. Ask your undergraduate advising office about enrolling.
  • Student Worker: Get paid to do research! Keep an eye out for notices in your buildings, ask faculty and fellow students if they know of opportunities, and check out Hireaggies.com.
  • Study Abroad and Field Courses: Check with your departmental undergraduate advising office or with the Study Abroad Office.
  • Summer Research Programs: Summer is a great time to get in-depth research experience. See our Summer Research Programs page for more information.
  • Internships: Internships usually include a mix of research experience and professional development opportunities. The Career Center provides a wealth of resources for aggies interested in internships.
  • Research Methods and Inquiry-Based Classes Classes that introduce you to research methods. Ask your departmental advisors about course offerings.
  • For additional information see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Getting Started in Undergraduate Research

First, ask yourself why you want to get into research. Are you curious? Do you have a question you need answering? Do you want to bolster your resume? This fundamental question will help align your research goals.

Next, find what you are interested in. Think beyond your major and really determine what captivates your interest.
After answering these question you can use these resources to help find a research mentor:
  • Classes: Your professors and TA’s are valuable resources. Many of them either have research projects available or know another faculty member who does. Talk to them after class or during their office hours.
  • Friends and classmates: Chances are several of your friends are participating in undergraduate research. Ask them how they got started and if they know of any faculty.
  • Departmental Websites: Departmental websites often list faculty and their research interests. Several college and departments also maintain pages specifically for undergraduate research opportunities.  You can find a list of these websites on our Research Opportunities page.
  • Student Organizations: Join a student organization that regularly brings in faculty speakers to talk about research opportunities. This is a great opportunity to meet faculty informally and express your interest in working with them.
  • Poster Sessions: Student Research Week and UGR Expo are two prime examples of research poster sessions. At poster sessions you will be able to see hundreds of posters describing undergraduate research projects and meet the students who did the work. A&M hosts many sessions year round, even during the summer.
  • Departmental Seminars: Most departments have weekly seminars at which faculty describe their research projects. This gives you a great opportunity to ask questions and possibly speak to the faculty afterwards.
Subscribe to the LAUNCH listserv by visiting listserv.tamu.edu to receive news and updates straight to your inbox about research at A&M.
Subscribe to LAUNCH into Research, a monthly email newsletter distributed by LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research here.

Meeting a Mentor

Be persistent: Contact your faculty early. Very early. Faculty are very busy and often will either forget or look over your request to meet. That’s all right. Don’t give up. Send them follow up emails or talk to the during their office hours.
Be prepared:  Do your homework. Before you go in to speak to with a potential mentor know their interests, your interests, your schedule and what you want out of a research project. Being prepared can only help you achieve your research goals.
Be professional: Treat this as an interview. Be professional and courteous in person and in your emails. No one expects you to have everything figured out.