Undergraduate Research Tips

Students, please consider these questions as you consider pursuing undergraduate research

  • Are you looking for a paid job or simply some research experience?
  • Do you have specific academic/research interests?
  • How much time do you want to devote to this research?
  • What economics courses have you taken?
  • What research skills do you possess? (e.g., facility with a statistical program such as Stata, SAS, or SPSS).

These are the questions that most faculty members would ask a student seeking a research
assistant position. It would be desirable for students to be clear about these matters before
approaching a faculty member.

Faculty members typically ask for a transcript and perhaps a resume. Keep in mind, very few
undergraduates are hired as research assistants. However this should not dissuade you from
pursuing opportunities.

Faculty members almost always hire undergraduates who have taken a class from them.
You may be thinking that independent research would give you the experience you seek. Given
our student-faculty ratio, very few economics majors will be able to find a faculty member to
supervise an independent research project. However, there may be some faculty who will
supervise an independent project. Students should first approach a faculty member with whom
they have a relationship. Typically independent research supervised by faculty is largely limited
to students in our Distinguished Majors program (for 4th year students) and public policy concentrations. So, do
consider the Distinguished Majors program if you are a 2nd or 3rd year student. It may be more
beneficial and more likely for students to find work with a faculty member rather than pursuing
their own research.

If a student is particularly interested in research that one of our faculty members is conducting,
(having taken a class with the faculty member, having read the literature on our website, or
having read the literature about faculty research in other departments) then he or she may
consider approaching the faculty.

Visit These Resources for Opportunities:

Undergraduate Research
Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research
UNLEASH . Database that matches UVA students to faculty research projects
Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards
BRAD Lab (Behavioral Research at Darden)
Economics Club . Periodically the Econ Club will post opportunities
National Science Foundation Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities
National Science Foundation Special Programs for Undergraduate Students