Undergraduate Research

Get Involved in Research!

Take advantage of the most important resource at a research university like UIC: faculty research programs. Students may conduct research with one of our faculty members for credit. There are different kinds of experiences depending on your goals:

Research Credit: PSCH 396, 397 or 399

396 Directed Research
1 TO 3 hours. Participation in ongoing research in psychology under the direction of a faculty member. A final report describing the research and its theory is required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. May be repeated. Students may register in more than one section per term. A combined maximum of 8 hours of credit in PSCH 396, PSCH 397, and PSCH 399 may be applied toward the degree. Prerequisite(s): PSCH 242 and consent of the instructor.

397 Readings in Psychology
1 TO 3 hours.
Bibliographic research on a special topic under the direction of a faculty member. Paper is required for course credit. May be repeated. Students may register in more than one section per term. A combined maximum of 8 hours of credit in PSCH 396, PSCH 397, and PSCH 399 may be applied toward the degree. Prerequisite(s): PSCH 343, a 3.00 grade point average, and consent of the instructor.

399 Independent Research (see High Departmental Distinction for more Information)
1 TO 4 hours. Individual research on a special topic under the direction of a faculty member. A paper is required for course credit. May be repeated. Students may register in more than one section per term. A combined maximum of 8 hours of credit in PSCH 396, PSCH 397, and PSCH 399 may be applied toward the degree. Prerequisite(s) : PSCH 343; one from PSCH 313, PSCH 321, PSCH 351, PSCH 353, PSCH 361, PSCH 363; a 3.00 grade point average; membership in one of the departmental distinction programs; consent of the instructor and the director of undergraduate studies. (Can be taken by students who are not doing high distinction with instructor's permission.) Students must complete an application in order to be considered for credit in PSCH 399.

How to Get Started

To do any of these research options, you first need to find a faculty sponsor who will work with you in the research. The best place to start is PSCH 396. There are three ways to find a position in someone's lab. First, you can go to the Faculty page and read what the faculty members are researching. Then, approach them directly, and ask if they have an opening in their lab for a 396 student, and if so, ask whether you could meet with them for an interview. It's important to be flexible at this stage, and realize that after you learn the basics of research in one semester, you'll be able to branch out later to work in other faculty labs that might meet your particular interests better. Faculty will expect to hear from you initially by email. Please allow a reasonable time for their reply and have prepared your reasons for wanting to work with them. Tell them about your interests and your qualifications (GPA etc).

Second, PSI CHI also arranges a forum called Matchmaker in the Fall and Spring Semesters for undergraduates to attend and listen to what research opportunities are actively available. These forums will be announced on this site and via e-mail to majors, and postings will be available in the department. (This matchmaker meeting usually happens on the 1st Friday of each semester.)

Third, you can go to the Psi Chi Website at any time to see postings from researchers who are looking for assistants.

You will make a specific arrangement with the faculty member to work in his or her laboratory on a research project (this may involve literature searches, running experiments, data collection, data analysis, observations, interviewing, etc.) for a certain number of hours a week for an agreed upon amount of credit (1-3 credit hours). Generally, 9 hours of work per week for 15 weeks is required for 3 hours of credit, 6 hours per week for 2 hours of credit, and 3 hours per week for 1 hour of credit. You must work a total of 135 hours in the research if you sign up for 3 credits of PSCH 396, or you must work a total of 90 hours total if you sign up for 2 credits of PSCH 396. Once you and the Professor decide how many credits you shall take, you can register yourself in their CRN, choosing the decided number of credits. At the end of the semester you must submit a 7-page paper to your Professor outlining the theoretical basis of the research and the part you played in it as a research assistant.

Credit for Research Outside of UIC Dept of Psychology

Credit may be obtained for research outside of the UIC Psychology Department through PSCH 396 (under the Director of Undergraduate Studies' call number), under these conditions (in addition to the normal conditions outlined above):
  1. The faculty member and project have been approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS). For this, you must submit a paragraph or two describing the proposed project, your role in it, and the psychological implications of the research. This must be submitted to the departmental Undergraduate Advisor and the DUGS via e-mail; and request that the faculty member who is your proposed research mentor email DUGS to indicate his/her understanding of the arrangement, and/or to ask any questions about the requirements. This must be done during the normal class registration period prior to the semester you want to register. Students must register for the credit during the normal drop/add period (First 2 weeks of course generally).
  2. You must write an APA-style paper about your research experience and hand it in to Dr. Ellen Herbener before the last day of classes. Before you receive a grade, this paper must be approved by your research supervisor, who must send Dr. Herbener a note (email is ok) approving the paper and your work in the course, before the end of exam week. Otherwise you will be assigned a grade of Unsatisfactory.