What is research and why should I participate?

There are many reasons to get involved in research. The main motivation should come from you—you should have a desire to understand something better and to contribute to the world's understanding of it. Participating in an undergraduate research experience can indeed help you understand a subject better. But it also can help you explore connections between disciplines, prepare for graduate school, or gain experience that will help when it comes time to apply to graduate school or for prestigious fellowships. Westminster University believes that research improves students' critical, analytical and integrative thinking, helps them be more creative and reflective, and it builds leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Many graduate programs involve students in research. Learning lab skills and techniques will give you the edge when it comes to getting into the graduate program of your choice.

How do I get involved?

There are many opportunities to participate in research as an undergraduate at Westminster. Look through this site and explore both the on campus and off campus possibilities. Talk to your professors and find out if there are ways to assist them with their research. Westminster University sponsors a number of grants each summer. See the links on the left for those applications. The Gore family sponsors the Gore Math/Science research grants each summer. The Environmental Studies Program sponsors two independent research grants. The Center for Civic Engagement and the Environmental Center both offer summer research opportunities, and the Provost's Office sponsors a number of summer research grants. In addition, schools, agencies and organizations have programs that pay students to be involved in research. The following list has many of those opportunities. Be resourceful. Try internet searches. Look at the undergraduate research web pages at other universities. Read descriptions carefully—some have restrictions on who can apply.

Research Opportunities

The following list has many opportunities for students to get involved in undergraduate research projects. Most of them occur off campus during the summer. Pay close attention to eligibility requirements. For more information, please contact Shawn Coon (scoon@westminsteru.edu).

Undergraduate Research Options for Students

At Westminster University students have many options to get involved in undergraduate research. Some disciplines allow students to received academic credit for undergraduate research. There are also a number of Work-Study supported undergraduate research assistant positions available. During each summer there are funds available from a variety of sources to support students who conduct undergraduate research with a faculty mentor. Most use the same application which can be found in the menu to the left of this page. The deadline for summer research grant applications is usually in early March of each year.

In order to be considered for one of these grants you must be an undergraduate student. Seniors may not apply for funds that occur after their graduation. Students must also have a faculty mentor and in most cases, a project in mind. The research can be proposed by the student, by the student and faculty working together, or by the faculty member.

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and deadlines. Late applications will not be considered. All applications will be considered by the Undergraduate Research Faculty committee who will make final selections based on available funding, viability of the research project, and the qualifications of the student.

Occasionally students will be considered for part time (20 hours per week) grant. If you and your research mentor have agreed to a part time schedule, please indicate that in your application.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience provides an intensive research experience for students working one-on-one with a faculty mentor. Students receive training in the research methods applicable to their specific project, employ critical analysis, and create written and oral presentations of their results. Grants are available for students and stipends are available for faculty mentors.

These grants act as a stipend for independent Summer Research Experience mentored by a faculty member.

  • Number of awards: 2
  • Award amount: $3750 stipend
  • Has completed at least 4 Honors classes by the end of the spring semester
  • Does not have another summer job requiring more than 20 hours per week
  • Complete a 2–3 page mid project report for the Honors College Dean
  • Submit a final 3–5 page report detailing the research or creative activity
  • Present to the Honors community
  • Encouraged to present results at a local, state, or national conference

The application consists of:

  • A 250-word project abstract
  • A project process description
  • An impact statement
  • 2 faculty letters of support
Application Deadline

Early March

This program provides a stipend and on-campus housing for McNair students for 30–40 hours per week of supervised research and participation in McNair activities.

  • Number of awards: 8–10
  • Award amount:
    • $2800 stipend
    • $850 for food allowance, on-campus housing, and travel to the National McNair Conference (UCLA, New Mexico, or Kansas City)

Any Westminster student who is enrolled in the McNair Program.

  • Participate in McNair workshops
  • Present research results at the on-campus McNair symposium
  • Are encouraged to present at external conferences
  • Are encouraged to submit a final report for publication in an online journal
Application Process

Complete a written application submitted to Karla Motta, McNair Scholars Program Coordinator (kmotta@westminsteru.edu).

Application Deadline

End of April

Support for projects focused on environmental learning and action on campus or in the community.

  • Number of awards: 2
  • Award amount: Up to $500 project support

Open to all Westminster students


Award recipients submit a final report to the director of the Environmental Center (environmentalcenter@westminsteru.edu).

Application Process

Complete a written application submitted to the director of the Environmental Center (environmentalcenter@westminsteru.edu).

Application Deadline


Support for the creation of high production value integrated arts projects in elementary schools, and for the production of a documentary film detailing the projects.

  • Number of awards: 18 (contingent upon funding)]
  • Award amount: $1200 per scholar

Open to all Westminster students

  • Work in a team of 2 students mentored by a faculty member
  • Put in 40 hours of work into the project including planning time in the spring
Application Process
  • Resume
  • 1–2 page narrative describing experience in the arts
Application Deadline