Apply for a Research Position

Applications typically ask for a variety of supporting materials.  Here are tips and links to websites to help you prepare the elements most often requested—cover letters, resumes, personal statements or essays, and abstracts.


Recommendation Letters

  • Ask for recommendation letters early
  • When a professor agrees to write a letter for you, provide the professor with:
    1. Your Resume
    2. A Draft of your Personal Statement
    3. A Copy of your Transcript (unofficial or official)
    4. A List of the Programs to which you are applying and the application deadlines
    5. A Copy of the Major Research Paper/Poster/Project you completed in his/her course (if applicable)
  • Remind your professors one to two weeks before the letters are due that they promised to write you a letter.  They will not take offense at being reminded- they are very busy and will appreciate the reminder.

Cover Letter or Letter of Interest


  • Before you begin writing your resume, write a list of every task you can remember performing at each job you have held.  If you are currently working, you may want to keep a running list of what you do and update it on a regular basis.  Write down everything you can remember doing- you may realize that something you considered unimportant may help in the position to which you are applying.  For example, if you cleaned beakers in a lab, you were likely “responsible for disposal of chemical materials and maintenance of laboratory equipment.”
  • After you have a draft of your resume, show it to people.  Take it to the career center, your adviser, etc.

Personal Statement or Essay

Sell Yourself—Guidance for Developing Your Personal Statement

Sell Yourself—Refining the Personal Statement

Writing the Personal Statement