Maryland Student Researchers Program
Maryland Student Researchers Program and Database
The Maryland Student Researchers program is a database of on-campus research opportunities for undergraduates. It is designed to help undergraduates find research opportunities and to help faculty members find research assistants. The projects typically call for students to work four to ten hours a week (may be unpaid or paid) under the direction of a faculty mentor on that faculty member’s own research. Students learn skills and gain valuable experience that will enhance their graduate school and job qualifications. In addition, students work closely with faculty members outside the classroom, allowing them to develop professional relationships with faculty and to make significant contributions to faculty research.
To search for fall or spring semester MSR opportunities mentored by a professor or other professional University researcher, use the search box below. Fall and spring semester opportunities are updated each August (prior to fall semester) and January (prior to spring semester). However, new opportunities may be posted at any time.
We recommend that you review carefully the advice provided below as you begin searching for MSR opportunities, and before you contact faculty to apply for a posted opportunity:
Search Tip: You can search by college (e.g., BSOS, CMNS, AGNR, etc.) or by academic fields (biology, art history, economics, etc.) or by topics (e.g., Africa, women’s health, civil war, etc.). To increase your chances of finding projects that are a good fit for your interests, conduct multiple searches using a variety of keywords. Be aware that great projects for you might be listed by researchers in colleges or majors other than your own.
Search all research opportunities
1. Eligibility Guidelines
We recommended that students interested in participating in MSR-listed research opportunities have the following characteristics:
be in good academic standing
Students in good academic standing have a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students below that level are in academic probation. Because students in academic probation for consecutive semesters may be subject to academic dismissal from the University, we strongly recommend that students in academic probation NOT seek or commit time to undergraduate research activities until they have restored themselves to good academic standing at a minimum.
have a minimum GPA of 2.5
While all students can benefit from a research experience, we strongly recommend prioritizing coursework. If you are struggling or underperforming in one or more areas academically it is in your best interests to focus on strengthening your performance in your classes before committing substantial time to an MSR-listed research project.
have completed at least 15 credits at College Park
Adjusting to your new life and studies at the University of Maryland can take time. If you are a first semester freshman, we recommend that you make settling in well your priority. If you get off to a strong start in your coursework, and develop good time-management skills at the college-level, you will be much better prepared to take on an MSR research experience successfully.
are willing to work as a research assistant for at least one semester
MSR research mentors invest substantial time and effort to train undergraduates to be effective contributors to their research projects. That investment will pay off best for both parties—for you and for your mentor—if you are prepared to commit yourself for at least one full semester of participation in a research project. Consider carefully whether you are able and willing to undertake this commitment before accepting a research opportunity.
2. How do I get started searching and applying for MSR opportunities?
Search the Maryland Student Researchers Database to identify research projects of interest to you. Be sure to use a variety of keywords to generate the largest number of possible projects. Also, look in fields outside of, but related to your own to increase your chances of finding a good fit. For example if you are a biology major, look for projects in kinesiology, or if you are studying Chinese, look for projects about East Asian history, politics, or society.
Once you have found a project that interests you, read our advice on “Questions Undergraduates Should Ask Research Mentors before Starting” as well as “How to Get the Most out of Your Research Experience.” Being well-informed, and having realistic hopes and expectations, will help you to have a rewarding undergraduate research experience.
E-mail the researcher whose project you wish to join. Introduce yourself and explain why you want to join the project. Attach copies of a cover letter, resume, and unofficial transcript to the e-mail. Your application will ALWAYS be more effective if you provide specific, sincere reasons for contacting a researcher about their project. For example:
Dear Professor Blank,
My name is Sara and I am a junior with a double major in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and Journalism. I saw your project on DNA Tumor Virology and am very interested in joining, as I am considering going to graduate school to study Virology. I have completed the courses listed as prerequisites for your project. If you still have places available in your lab, I would love to be involved in your work. Please find my cover letter, resume, and unofficial transcript attached.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sara Jane Smith
4. The UMD Career Center has effective resources to help you prepare a good, concise cover letter and resume – you can find these here:
Cover letters: http://www.careercenter.umd.edu/page.cfm?page_id=54
5. You and your research mentor should come to a clear, explicit agreement concerning the number of hours you will work and your daily and weekly schedules. You should also have a clear understanding of how you and your research mentor will communicate—how often and in what form (personal meetings, email updates, reports,). We recommend that you come to an agreement with the faculty member regarding hours (4-6 hours/week) and expectations. Please speak to your faculty supervisor before starting your assistantship to ensure that you understand what will be expected of you.
3. Questions to ask professors when you contact them:
As a Maryland Student Researcher, you are responsible for fulfilling the duties agreed upon with your mentor. The following is a list of questions that it would be helpful for you to discuss with your mentor before beginning your research assistantship.
How many hours will I be expected to work per week?
What will my schedule be (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12-2pm)?
What will my responsibilities be?
Who will be my direct supervisor and how much supervision will I receive?
Where will I perform my responsibilities?
What if I get sick or have too much school work one week? How can I make up the hours? Who should I contact if I am not coming to work?
What are my start date and end date? Will I be responsible for working during exam week? Will I be required to work during breaks such as spring break?
We suggest printing out these questions before you speak with a potential faculty mentor. These questions are based on suggestions from prior Maryland Student Researchers.
As a Maryland Student Researcher, you have an opportunity to gain invaluable research skills and experiences. MCUR aims for you to be introduced to the research process and to learn more about a field that interests you. An added benefit is that you will have a chance to build a relationship with a faculty member outside of the classroom.
The following are some tips on how to get the most out of your research experience:
Keep in mind you are working on a small piece of a larger project. Ask your faculty mentor to explain the larger picture of the project. Ask graduate students about their roles in the project. Ask how this project relates to other current research in the field. Beyond what you learn about your particular field of interest, being involved in research as an undergraduate gives you the opportunity to learn about the climate and process of research more generally.
It is important to be assertive and direct when communicating with your faculty mentor. If you are unclear about directions for a particular task, ask for clarification. Ask your mentor to set up a regular meeting time with you. The frequency of these meetings will vary between projects, but we recommend meeting at least every other week. These meetings may be short, but the purpose of them is to give you an opportunity to ask questions and to give your mentor an opportunity to give feedback and guidance. Let your faculty mentor know if you are interested in sitting in on research group meetings.
You are likely to be most satisfied with your Maryland Student Researcher experience if you make a sincere and enthusiastic commitment to your project. Remember your mentor has planned on having your help with his or her project throughout the semester. Do your best to complete the tasks you are asked to do. Remember that while some tasks may seem insignificant, careful attention to minor tasks is crucial to any project’s success. Make sure your mentor knows you appreciate the time he or she spends with you.
Think about how you will manage your time at the beginning of the semester. It is sometimes difficult to strike a balance between your coursework, your research experience, and the rest of your life. Think carefully about your other responsibilities for the semester before committing to weekly hours with your faculty mentor. You and your faculty mentor will benefit the most from your work as a research assistant if you set and keep regular working hours. If special circumstances do arise, notify your mentor as soon as possible.
Have a great semester! If you have any questions during the semester, feel free to contact the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org