Why get involved in research?
There are many benefits to becoming involved in research as an undergraduate student, including:
- Career advantages: Many graduate schools are looking for students who already have research experience and who know what area of psychology they would like to focus on. Gaining experience as an undergrad will make you a more competitive graduate school applicant, but it also allows you to fine tune what research question or field of study is important to you.
- Develop your skills: Research experience helps students develop many skills, including time management, critical thinking, written and oral communication, collaboration, and data collection and analysis. These skills are highly desired across most career fields, but particularly in business, education, law, and mental health services.
- Letter of recommendation: Letters of recommendation are important whether you’re applying for a job, professional school, or graduate school. Involving yourself in research allows a faculty remember to get to know you outside the classroom, which will help them write you a stronger letter of recommendation when the time comes.
Finding a research mentor
Research conducted by faculty in the Department of Psychology at UK can be divided into three broad areas, which are listed below. Click on the links for a list of researchers in each of these core areas:
- Clinical Psychology
- Developmental, Social, and Health
- Cognitive Neuroscience
To gain better understanding of these and other subfields of psychology, including career information, click here.
Selecting a Research Course
There are three different research courses offered by the Psychology Department at UK, all require students to select a research mentor from the Department of Psychology. Students should work with their research mentor to decide which course is most appropriate and to complete the contract.
- PSY 393: Research in Neuroscience: An independent research project in an area of neuroscience under the direction of a faculty mentor. A research contract must be signed by the student and the faculty research mentor. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits, in combination with other independent research credit hours. Students should be capable of doing "independent research" in the sense that they can conduct the experiments with little direct supervision. Students are expected to become familiar with related research in the current literature by regularly reading scientific journals. This course is offered for a letter grade. PSY 393 Research Contract
- PSY 394: Research in Psychology: An independent research project in an area of Psychology under the direction of a Faculty Research Mentor. A research contract must be signed by the student and the Faculty Research Mentor. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits, in combination with other independent research credit hours. Students should be capable of doing "independent research" in the sense that they can conduct the experiments with little direct supervision. They are expected to become familiar with related research in the current literature by regularly reading scientific journals. This course is offered for a letter grade. PSY 394 Research Contract
- PSY 395: Independent Research in Psychology: Independent work in Psychology is open to Psychology majors with at least a 3.0 GPA in psychology coursework, although exceptions are sometimes made to these prerequisites. This is a P/F course. PSY 395 Research Contract
Registering for a research course
Contact possible research mentors around the midterm of the semester before you wish to begin your research; it is also best to commit to two semesters in the same lab. Below are guidelines for the process of obtaining a research position.
- Identify potential Psychology Department faculty member whose research interests you (see mentors list above
- Form a list of possible mentors, contact them to determine if they are accepting undergraduate students into their labs and if you are eligible to join (each researcher has their own requirements for accepting students). In your email, include some information about yourself (e.g., what courses you've taken and your future goals), why you're interested in the mentor's research, your time commitment, for which semester(s) you are applying, etc.
- If you are offered a position in a lab, work with your mentor to select the appropriate course (PSY 393, 394, 395), complete the contract, and get registered.