The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences values the diverse experiences and backgrounds of all students at the University of Louisville and the department is committed to making an inclusive lab experience for all undergraduates. Students from historically underrepresented or marginalized groups are encouraged to apply.
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 skills 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 491), volunteer or paid basis.
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:
- Explore the flyers posted on the right side of this webpage under "Research Assistant Openings."
- 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).
- To explore the websites of all research labs in psychology, click here.
Research for academic credit (PSYC 491 or PSYC 492-CUE)
- By making arrangements with a faculty member, students can register for one-three hours of credit in PSYC 491 (Undergraduate psychology research). 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 (see instructions below). After approval by the department chair and the Dean's Office, the student will be allowed to add PSYC 491 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 491 in the same or different labs, but 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). Students who wish to enroll in more than three semesters of PSYC 491 are encouraged to discuss their plans with the adviser in their major department.
- For PSYC 492-CUE credit, students complete a list of readings related to the research project that they will be working on, and present their project at a poster session at the end of the semester. Note that because this is a CUE course, students must have completed PSYC 302 and have completed at least 90 credit hours, including 24 hours of Psychology.
Psychology Honors Program (PSYC 495, PSYC 496-WR,CUE)
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 University of Louisville undergraduate students, who would like to know more about graduate-level education at the University of Louisville, with a 10-week research experience in a department that offers graduate degrees, which includes Psychology!
- Students should identify a research mentor, who will provide the student with an individualized research project, and the program will provide group seminars on topics related to research and graduate education. Students should be, preferably, past their sophomore year of study.
- To help you identify a potential research mentor in psychology, visit http://louisville.edu/psychology/people/faculty and explore the research interests of Core Faculty listed.
- SROP students will participate in a Research Day with other undergraduate research opportunity students at the end of the 10-week period and must present a poster of their work. Students will receive a stipend of $3,500 for the 10 weeks, and the SROP mentor is eligible for up to $500 to support the student's research and costs for production of the required poster.
- 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 made directly to SROP.
- Applications are typically accepted between January 10th and March 15th.
- Please visit https://louisville.edu/provost/ug-research/srop/details for complete information.
How to enroll in PSYC 491, 492-CUE, 495, or 496-WR,CUE
- Download the independent study form and complete it together with your mentor. *Save this form by closing the window and agreeing to save. Do not save by printing to PDF.*
- When the form is complete, your mentor should upload it to the independent study forms folder on Box.
- Once you have received approval, you may enroll in the course. Be sure to check that you are enrolling in the correct number of credit hours when adding the course to your "enrollment cart."
Click here to find out more about Undergraduate Research more generally.