Undergraduate Research: Learning by Doing

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Christopher W. Reaves, Ph.D.
Director, Undergraduate Research and Student Innovation

If your student wants to apply what they are learning in the classroom to gain practical experience, then they should look into doing undergraduate research. It is one of the many opportunities that Georgia Tech offers students as a leading research university.

Misconception: Undergraduate research is only available if the faculty advertises an opening.
The reality: Few undergraduate research opportunities are initiated by a professor posting an opportunity. The best way for students to get involved is to review faculty webpages and see who is doing research that they find exciting. Then contact the professor, tell them you are really interested in their research, and request a meeting to discuss their research. If students want more guidance on this, they can talk to their school’s undergraduate coordinator. Click here to locate a coordinator.

Misconception: Students don’t have time for undergraduate research because of classes or jobs.
The reality: Undergraduate research is extremely flexible and can be done for course credit or pay.

* Course Credit: In nearly every major the research credit counts toward the degree, and it can also be extended to allow a student to graduate with the “Research Option.” Click here for more information.

* Pay: Most faculty have funding through grants to pay students a stipend, but Georgia Tech also has the President’s Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA). Students can apply for this award.

* Time: Students can do research for 9 hours/week or 40 hours/week. All this is up to the student and the faculty member.

Misconception: Research is only in labs.
The reality: There are opportunities in every field. Students have worked with faculty on research in a broad spectrum of topics: designing robots that explore other planets, collecting coral samples to look at past climates, or analyzing the desegregation of the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Misconception: Students can’t do research until they are juniors or seniors.
The reality: Students can begin research at any time during their undergraduate career.

Misconception: Only a few undergraduate students are involved in research.
The reality: Last year there were approximately 2,500 undergraduate students doing research with faculty. There are plenty of opportunities. Encourage your student to explore!

For more information on Undergraduate Research at Georgia Tech, visit


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