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What is undergraduate research and creative discovery?

The Undergraduate Research/Creative Discovery Advisory Committee defines research and creative discovery as “any faculty-mentored project completed by undergraduates at SFA using the scholarly/creative process with techniques of an academic discipline to produce fuller knowledge, understanding or applications to the discipline.” Conducted in individual departments at SFA, undergraduate research includes a wide range of endeavors, from performance arts to literary criticism to laboratory research on treatments for cancer.

Why should I participate in undergraduate research or creative discovery?

You will benefit academically and throughout your career as you engage in the pursuit of knowledge. The creativity, curiosity, ability to focus, diligence, verbal and written fluency, and respect for others’ contributions that are necessary to thrive as an undergraduate researcher are critical precursors for understanding and engaging in modern cultural, academic and professional challenges. Participating presents an advantage for success in graduate school, may help you develop relationships with faculty and may be included on your résumé.

Can any student conduct undergraduate research?

Yes! It all depends on how proactive you wish to be. Some programs or departments have requirements (class standing, GPA, etc.), but SFA offers additional opportunities to supplement or complement department programs. Talk to your professors, classmates and advisors about your interests and passions.

Do I need to take specific classes before I can conduct research?

The answer depends on which field you are in. Some professors require advanced class completion in your major, but other investigators are looking for enthusiastic students without a specific background. Contact the program or professor if you have questions about the necessary prerequisites. Reviewing course and program curricula also may help you determine the preparations or prerequisites you need.

What opportunities are available to undergraduates?

Research and creative discovery opportunities are available on campus for students in any college and in any major. Some programs, like forestry and chemistry, also may conduct projects through the summer. If you want to learn more about these opportunities, ask your professors, other graduate students, your academic advisor or anyone who may know of professors who are looking for assistance.

Are undergraduates allowed to conduct research outside their chosen major or college?

Yes, at the discretion of the professor conducting the research or creative discovery. Students are encouraged to consider what they will add to a particular project.

How soon can I get involved in research as an undergraduate?

You should begin talking to professors and looking into opportunities as soon as possible. You may even get involved in research and creative discovery as early as the second semester of your first year! Most students who participate in research tend to start in their second year, either with research or creative discovery embedded in their courses or by studying independently with a faculty mentor.

How much of a time commitment is undergraduate research?

The time commitment for research and creative discovery projects can vary widely. Some students work a few hours per week for a semester or two just to try it out. For other students, this is the focus of their SFA experience.

Are there opportunities to publish and/or present at professional conferences as an undergraduate?

Yes! Students can apply and, if selected, may present their works at the SFA Undergraduate Research Conference. Students should consult with a faculty mentor about opportunities to present at academic conferences.

Can I get academic credit for research and creative discovery?

Yes, in some cases. It depends on the research opportunity and the guidelines of your department. Some experiences are part of your coursework, and you receive credit for them.

Is research and creative discovery a required part of the undergraduate experience?

Though research is optional in all six colleges, many departments have honors programs that require research.

Is there a research group or club I can join?

Yes, Undergraduate Research Club meetings are held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Steen Library, Room 205. Students discuss conducting research, presenting at conferences, getting published and more.

I have a bachelor's degree and some experience with research, but I would like to gain more research experience before I apply to graduate school. What can I do?

Consider a post-baccalaureate program. These programs provide research and creative discovery opportunities to recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate school.


Center for Research and Creative Discovery
Leslie G. Cecil, director