Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in the exciting research led by scholars in the College of IST. Research experience is a great resume builder and an excellent way to extend learning outside of the classroom. Whether considering graduate school, looking for a creative outlet, searching for a thesis project, or wanting to hone critical thinking skills, students will find many interesting projects in our labs, classrooms, and research centers.

Registering IST-Related Undergraduate Research for Credit

Students seeking to receive academic credit (294/494) for their undergraduate research work should complete the Research Credit Request form below only after meeting with a faculty member, visiting their lab or research group, and possibly participating with their group in a limited fashion. Students should also review the note below about IST 495 Internships before submitting this form*.

Research Credit Request Form

When students meet with their faculty member, they should come to an agreement on these items, which are needed to complete the Research Credit Request Form:

  • Type of research (Honors Thesis or Lab Contribution)
    • Students in the Schreyer Honors College may choose to complete research credits as part of their honors thesis process.
    • All others should select “Lab Contribution.”
  • Area of Study (CYBER/DS/ETI/HCDD/IST/SRA)
    • Choose the area of study that best matches the area of research based on the advice of the faculty research adviser.
  • Level of engagement:
    • 294 is for students in their initial research engagement experiences and may be taken by students of all undergraduate academic levels.
    • 494 is typically for students in their third or fourth years who have been recognized by their faculty research adviser to be capable of making contributions to the productivity of the research group.
    • 494H is for Schreyer Honors College students who are completing their honors thesis work with their registered honors thesis adviser.
  • Nature of the research activity
    • Students will need to submit a paragraph detailing the work they will be completing.
  • Number of credits
    • Generally, 45 hours of effort equals 1 credit, per policy.
    • See University Bulletin for more information.
  • Grading scale (Letter Grade or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory)
    • Students in the Schreyer Honors College should be graded with letter grades only.
    • Otherwise, the selection of grading scale is determined by the faculty member.
    • Letter grades give the faculty member the ability to assess the student’s work with more detail and may be more appropriate for some situations.
    • SAT/UNSAT is chosen most often, especially for limited contributions where letter grades may be difficult to differentiate.

The registration form will be approved by the faculty member prior to the research course being added to the student’s schedule. Faculty members will be notified that the registration request has been submitted and will be asked to respond to the Smartsheet email they receive to ensure that the student is registered.

*Note: Students who are compensated with pay should not register for credit, as well. Additionally, students who need credit for IST 495 (300-hour internship) should follow the IST 495 registration process and should not register for 294/494 credits. While the work for IST 495 and 294/494 could be very similar, the number of hours and academic content are different.

Finding a research project of interest to you depends on your initiative. Although some students find good research project opportunities through the University's undergraduate research posting system, many find a good fit by taking the time to find out about faculty members' projects and making personal connections during office hours. Explore our listing of research faculty and the college's core research areas to learn about current research projects and faculty working in different areas.

If you find a faculty member working in an area that interests you, email them your resume, cover letter, and a statement of interest to see if they have opportunities for undergraduate students to support their work.

Once you have secured your research position, assistance with finding scholarly resources is available from the IST Research Consultant, Carmen Cole: ccc143@psu.edu

Additional research opportunities and information for undergraduates are available through the Office of Undergraduate Education.

  • Research Opportunity Postings - Explore openings for undergraduate research assistants, searchable by campus and college or faculty name.
  • Undergraduate Exhibition - An annual showcase of undergraduate research and creative work from across Penn State’s colleges and campuses, held in the spring at the University Park campus.
  • Erickson Discovery Grants - Competitive awards to support undergraduate student engagement in original research, scholarship, or creative work under direct supervision by a faculty member.
  • Research Conference Travel Support - Matching funds provided by the Office of Undergraduate Education, colleges and campuses, and academic departments to defray the cost of attendance by undergraduate students at national or regional professional meetings to present their research or creative work.

Office of Undergraduate Academic Advising

E103 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

Make an Appointment

(814) 865-8947