For Students

We understand that getting involved in undergraduate research can be intimidating. We are here to help! Here is a list of frequently asked questions which have been answered by our Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. For additional help, feel free to visit us during our virtual drop-in undergraduate research advising hours on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1-3pm on Zoom. Please visit during those times to speak with an ambassador! No appointment necessary!

Frequently Asked Questions

The benefits a student can get from undergraduate research are highly variable and specific to the individual. Generally, however, many researchers are able to become experts in a topic they are interested in, make valuable connections with faculty members, get leadership experience, get paid for their time doing research, and often have the opportunity to travel to present their work. These are just some of the many benefits you’ll receive as a result of your engagement in research.


Yes! To learn more about how to get started in research during your first-year, you can either attend the Research Ready Workshop or swing by our drop-in undergraduate research advising hours on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1-3 pm in Waldo 140. No appointment necessary!

Freshman are also eligible to get paid to conduct research or creative activities through the URSA Engage Program.

Yes, you can get paid! Oftentimes, organized programs provide some compensation for research. Students doing undergraduate research are commonly paid by stipend (especially if your research is being done through an organized program), scholarship, or hourly. While many undergraduate students start off their research experiences as unpaid volunteers, you can also ask your professor if they are able to fund your research efforts. If not, you can work together to apply for funding opportunities made available by your college, OSU, or larger funding sources. If you are eligible for the Federal Work Study Program, make sure to bring it up with your professors, since the expense to them directly will be less. More information about how to use Work Study to fund undergraduate research can be found here.


Yes! Doing undergraduate research across disciplines is a great way to explore other career pathways you are curious about. Being more knowledgeable about a diversity of topics is a great asset to have. If you are curious about another discipline or major, getting involved in research is a great way to learn more about the topic rather than changing your major or having to pay for extra credits!


Lab meetings can take different forms depending on how your mentor likes to structure them. In many cases, all available members of a research team (e.g. undergraduate researchers, graduate students, post-docs, faculty mentor) attend these meetings. It is common for the attendees to go around the room and take turns updating each other on what they have been working on over the past week. Lab meetings serve as a space for everyone to communicate about the progress being made, to ask each other for feedback, and to inform the research team members about big updates (e.g. upcoming research presentations, safety trainings, dissertations, etc.).


Research is for everyone! The wonderful thing about undergraduate research is that it is extremely versatile and flexible, allowing you to decide exactly when you want to achieve your research goals. Students start as early as their first term at OSU and can continue all the way to their last term on campus. The advantage of starting early is the benefit you gain from creating strong relationships with your colleagues on your research team and your experience allows you to become an expert in the topic and a mentor to future students.


Undergraduate students at OSU have the opportunity to present their research at two on-campus events each year: Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) in spring and Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium at the end of summer. These are both excellent opportunities to develop important communication skills, network with other students and faculty, and gain confidence when speaking about one's scholarly work. Additionally, many students present at other symposia/conferences across the state/country/world. 

For a list of potential events you may be able to share your work at visit:


For some graduate programs, previous experience in research will absolutely be a requirement. For others, engaging in research can be a great way to show your dedication to the field, leadership experience, problem solving skills, and more. Additionally, research is a great way to connect and network with potential future graduate mentors. Regardless, the passion and motivation you express towards your desired field is what’s really important! 

In order to get into research ASAP, finding different opportunities on campus to get in contact with students and faculty is a good place to start. Going to fairs, events, and workshops are great for exploring the research happening within each college at Oregon State University, as well as networking with the faculty running that research. Resources for on campus research are everywhere, take advantage of them!

Be sure to check out our list of research programs at OSU!

It is helpful to schedule your time with a planner to make sure you follow deadlines. Your mentor should understand that school comes first. If coursework is getting heavy, reach out to your mentor and explain the situation, you can likely make a plan to get the work done. Just be clear with communication!

One of the most important things to find success in your research is open communication with your faculty mentor. It is important to let them know when you can and cannot work, ask them questions if you are unsure about something, and be able to have an open and honest dialogue about your work. Dedication to your work is also important for success. You are much more likely to be successful when you’re enjoying the work you are doing and are genuinely interested in the topic!

Experience is NOT required! Most professors are looking for undergraduates who are willing to work hard and learn new things. Showing that you are interested in their work (read some of their previous studies!) is really beneficial for making a good first impression and learning background information about the work that you may be helping them with.


There are a few ways you could do this. You can try emailing a potential mentor and introducing yourself, and ask if they’re available to meet (for tips on writing this email) to talk about research opportunities in their research lab. You can also try dropping by their office during office hours. For students in the Honors College, be sure to communicate with the faculty member if you’re interested in doing your thesis with them. This isn’t necessarily a binding contract but can help them find a project that will be suitable for this requirement.

Most commonly, if you aren’t able to join a research team, it is because the mentor does not have the ability (e.g. time, resources, etc.) to mentor an additional student. Don’t get discouraged! You are building resilience and finding a mentor will be easier the second time! There are lots of amazing mentors at OSU. Reach out to someone new and visit us at our drop-in advising hours on Mondays and Tuesdays 1-3PM in Waldo 140 if you want support!