Research Opportunities

Where do I find undergraduate research opportunities in psychology?

Some professors actively recruit undergraduate research assistants by posting flyers. These flyers provide information about the research topic, time requirements, who is eligible, how to apply, etc.

Below are three places you can learn about undergraduate research opportunities in psychology:

    1. Explore the flyers posted on the right side of this webpage under "Research Assistant Openings."
    2. Explore the flyers posted in the lobby of the 3rd floor of Life Sciences (i.e., the bulletin board at the top of the central staircase on the Psychology side).
    3. To explore the websites of all research labs in psychology, click here.

Why do research as an undergraduate?

  • Skills mastered in the research lab are those necessary for success in college and beyond. These including critical thinking, interacting with a variety of people with differing goals, listening carefully and taking notes, speaking and writing in a clear, organized and persuasive manner, behaving in a responsible, punctual, mature and respectful manner, managing stress and conflict, managing time and setting priorities, seeking feedback and using it to improve performance, accepting responsibility and using technology.
  • Graduate schools will favor students with demonstrated research experience. The best predictor of the ability to do research in graduate school is having a research product of some sort already completed before application. In fact, the most selective doctoral programs (especially the PhD in clinical psychology) will rarely admit a student with no research background (see Planning for Graduate School).
  • Skills gained in research experience closely mirror those desired by employers. According to the National Center for Vocational Education Research, these skill include:interpersonal skills (ability to work in a team, teach, lead and serve customers), information skills (ability to acquire and evaluate data, organize and maintain files, interpret and communicate), systems skills (understanding organizations, monitoring and improving performance) and technical skills (using computers to process information, trouble-shooting equipment)
  • Research is a fundamental and exciting component of the psychology major.Many Psychology faculty welcome undergraduate participation in their research labs on a credit (Psyc 401), volunteer or paid basis.

Research for academic credit (PSYC 401)

  • By making arrangements with a faculty member, students can register for one-three hours of credit in PSYC 401 (Research Psychology). This is arranged independently and individually by the student, who should contact faculty members by email a semester in advance to discuss opportunities in the faculty's lab. The faculty and student will agree on responsibilities and means of evaluation and jointly sign an Independent Study Form (available outside the Psychology Office, Room 317, LS or from Arts & Sciences, Gardiner Hall.) After approval by the department chair and the Dean's Office, the student will be allowed to add PSYC 401 to their registration.
  • Students should be aware that this opportunity is popular, openings are limited and admission to the labs can be selective. Preference is often given to students who have already taken PSYC 301, Quantitative Methods (Statistics)and PSYC 302, Experimental Psychology (Research Design/Methods). Students should be prepared to inform faculty regarding their academic qualifications (e.g. GPA, psychology courses taken, Honors, writing sample), additional relevant skills if any (Excel, SPSS, Java, etc.) and have both a resume and transcript available for review. Many faculty will expect students to be available for two semesters.
  • There is no formal restriction of this option to Psychology majors, although preference may be given to those whose career goals include research activities in similar areas and who have a relevant background.
  • Students may repeat registration in PSYC 401, in the same or different labs, but you are advised to note the limit to the number of hours in Psychology that can be credited toward graduation (40 hours for the BA degree, 60 hours for the BS degree). Should you wish to enroll in more than three semesters of PSYC 401, you are encouraged to discuss your plans with the adviser in your major department.

Psychology Honors Program (PSYC 405, PSYC 406-WR)

The Psychology Honors Program is intended to provide outstanding students majoring in Psychology with opportunities to become involved in original research and scholarship under the close mentorship of a departmental faculty member. This experience gives students an opportunity to integrate what they have learned by designing their own projects. The Psychology Honors Program contributes to the development of skills that will be useful in a broad range of later endeavors and is an advantage for entrance into graduate and professional schools. Above all, the Honors Program gives qualified and motivated students an intensive exposure to the scholarly work. For more details, see Psychology Honors on this website.

Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)

  • The Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) provides students who would like to know more about graduate-level education with a 10-week research experience in a department that offers graduate degrees. Fellowships are also available to under-served/under-represented student populations from regional colleges and universities. Mentors provide students with individualized research projects and the program provides group seminars on topics related to research and graduate education. Students should be, preferably, in their sophomore or junior year of study. This is a highly recommended program for students who are considering application to PhD programs.
  • Traditionally, at least one SROP student completes their project in Psychology every summer. This program is administered by the Vice President for Research, not the individual departments, and application is make directly to SROP. Application is due by March 1 for the following summer and students currently receive a stipend of $3000.
  • Please visit http://graduate.louisville.edu/pubs/srop/ for complete information.

Click here to find out more about Undergraduate Research more generally.