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Undergraduate Research

UR@JMC Undergraduate Research at James Madison College Michigan State University 


Individualized, faculty-led, undergraduate research is an integral part of every student’s academic program in James Madison College. Every student in James Madison College is required to complete an internship as well as a research intensive senior seminar.  In addition, many students choose to engage with individual faculty on independent study projects, senior honors theses, or work as a team by participating in a research seminar. Students can present their research at a number of conferences, including the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum. Please contact your academic advisor, professor, or the James Madison College Director of Academic Affairs for further information.

Go Further

Undergraduate Research (UR) offers a unique opportunity for students to work with JMC faculty on their scholarship.  Students are able to produce original output that contributes to a particular academic discipline. At Madison, UR takes many different forms, depending on student interests, ambition, and motivation. The most common forms of UR at Madison are: Research as part of a faculty-led project, Independent Study, and Professorial Assistantships. Often research can build upon work in a specific class, or can examine issues not currently explored in any MSU class.

  • The Next Step
    Madison students who engage in UR as part of a faculty-led project will gain hands-on experience in academic scholarship and insight into how the academic community communicates with the world through research. In addition, students develop relationships with faculty who are on the cutting edge of their fields and gain experience in research techniques that will make them competitive applicants for jobs and graduate education. Getting involved in this type of research at Madison may be as simple as speaking to a faculty member whose research interests align with your own, or inquiring about opportunities to further the classroom learning experience, through work on a faculty research project. 
  • Ask a Question
    Many Madison students choose to conduct independent UR independently on a topic of great personal interest to them. At Madison, students have the opportunity to conduct their own unique undergraduate research project under the guidance of a faculty member who serves as an advisor throughout the process. Independent studies may be completed for academic credit, and may also be financially supported by the College pending an application for funding. Getting involved in an independent study may start with asking a question, or identifying a gap in available research on a particular topic. At Madison, students who participate in independent studies may have the opportunity to be the first to research their topic of interest! Following completion of an independent study, Madison students are encouraged to present and defend their work in an academic setting, with the support of faculty and peers. 
  • Get Ahead

    Madison students who are also part of the Honors College may be selected to serve as a Professorial Assistant. Professorial Assistantships pair leading faculty with ambitious undergraduate students to foster the development of the students’ knowledge and academic skills. Professorial Assistants at Madison work with faculty beginning in their first year, engaging in academic research and scholarly activity that will prepare them to develop their own research interests. For more information about Professorial Assistantships, visit the Honors College.

    Another way to start conducting research early in your academic career is by taking an Honors Research Seminar. These courses are specifically for first and second year Honors College students and provide students an opportunity to work closely with faculty on sustentative research projects. Seminars are small and examine a variety of issues. 

  • Get Ready

    Before you can engage in UR at Madison, you must answer the following questions:

    • How much time can I commit to an undergraduate research project and how will it work into my schedule?
    • What area of research best aligns with my career goals and interests?
    • Is there a faculty member currently conducting research now that interests me? Is he or she seeking research assistants?
    • What will UR do for me?
  • The Numbers

    Students who participated in some form of UR felt that it “met or exceeded their expectations.” Students cited the relationships built with faculty, the opportunities to present and publish research, and the connections made between their research and future goals as major benefits of participation in UR. After completing their initial UR experience, 71% of undergraduate researchers pursue another UR experience. 

    Students who participated in UR also reported the development of skills and broadening of knowledge bases as a result of their involvement:

    • 86% of all students engaged in UR found that they deepened their knowledge of their research area
    • 81% of all students increased their confidence in their research
    • 75% cited improvement in their time management skills as a result of participation in UR
    • 91% students indicated that their UR opportunity positively contributed to their educational experience
  • Making it Work
    • Many students were able to engage in undergraduate research by devoting 10 hours or less to their projects. This makes UR a viable option in terms of time commitment for many students.
    • Many students researchers received a stipend to conduct their research.
    • Many students met with their faculty mentors for research projects two or more times per month, providing an opportunity for both guidance and relationship-building with a professional in their field of interest.