Undergraduate Research Jumpstart Program

Program Overview

This program is designed to provide the strategies and support students need to become a successful undergraduate researcher.  The goal is to help students understand the nature of the research process and how to pursue undergraduate research at Penn State.

Accessing an undergraduate research opportunity can be stressful and unclear. This program intends to make the process more transparent and accessible for all students. In this program, students will explore resources and services that will help in identifying their research interests, while also gaining insight into the process of applying for undergraduate research opportunities.

The program includes activities to identify research interests, practice networking, and build other necessary skills to be a successful undergraduate researcher. By the completion of the program, students will have written professional emails to faculty, participated in a formal interview, completed a mock application for a research opportunity, and curated a toolkit personalized to their research interests.

Spring 2022:  January 24, - April 22, 2022

  • Interested students must submit an application to be considered for the program (see below).
  • Participants must commit to attending at least eight of the weekly meetings
  • To apply for the program, fill out the Jumpstart Application form

Program Contacts

Curriculum Overview

What is research & why should I do it?

  • Summarize goals for the program
  • Reflect on your own research interests
  • Introduced to possible avenues within undergraduate research

Nuts and Bolts of Finding Research

  • Review how to find and assess possible research opportunities
  • Information about undergraduate research opportunities at PSU and other institutions
  • Introduced to professional communication with potential research mentors
  • Review a mock application for a research program

Doing Research on Research: Digging In

  • Discuss choosing a research topic for a literature review
  • Explore library can campus resources for searching
  • Review credibility and authority of sources
  • Identify reliable sources within your field

Communicating Your Research Knowledge

  • Review suggestions and ideas for communicating with faculty via email regarding research opportunities and recommendations
  • Practice and present an elevator pitch on your research interest

What’s next for me?

  • Complete a mock application
  • Put together an Undergraduate Research Action Plan
  • Complete a 5-minute Program Outcomes Assessment provided by the libraries

Student Testimonials

"I like the way that the program is set up and how it’s teaching us where to find research, how to write an application, etc. I think that the information provided to us in this program is more beneficial to us than what I thought the program was about.”

“Initially, I was confused about the application process. It was so much information all over the place. This program helped me organize all the resources. I am much [more] confident about the research process now.”

"What we’ve learned in this course really reflects what the faculty wants. Every week we reiterate what our research topic is, and as we are doing this, we are ingraining this topic in our heard. So, when it comes time to reach out to potential faculty about research, through email or interview, we already have a baseline to go off of, and will appear more passionate about the subject.... And this course really helps us to home in on a specific topic and write about it well.”

“I think I was expecting to get help on how to make a good research application but have gotten a lot more than that. I think that I have learned a lot of useful skills on how to be a good applicant and not just write a good application.”

“I just thought we were gonna fake research to learn about how to write papers. Now that we have done so much, I feel so much more informed. I feel really happy that I found so many resources and so much guidance.”

Check out the program's promotional video to hear students talk about their experiences.