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Undergraduate Research

I enjoy the process of research and taking large amounts of data that our groups find and bring it together to find a pattern or some conclusion.

Valerie McNamara, Lab leader for JMC Human Rights Lab, International Relations '23


Individualized, faculty-led, undergraduate research is an integral part of James Madison College. These initiatives give students proficiency in research design, quantitative and qualitative analysis, critical thinking and analytical writing. 


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Go Further

Undergraduate Research (UR) offers unique opportunities for students to work with JMC faculty. Students are able to produce original research content that contributes to a particular academic discipline.

The most common forms of UR at Madison are: 

  • Faculty-led research
  • Independent study
  • Professorial assistantships

When I was referred to the Center for Community and Economic Development, I knew that CCED presented a critical opportunity for my future.

Sean Farnum, Social Relations and Policy ’23

Research can build upon work in a specific class, or may examine issues not currently explored in any MSU class.


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  • Get ready

    Before you can engage in UR at Madison, 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? Are they seeking research assistants?
    • What will the research experience do for me in terms of my academic and professional goals? 
  • Get started

    Next Steps:

    Madison students engaged in faculty-led projects gain hands-on experience in academic scholarship  and gain insight into how the academic community communicates with the world through research.

    Getting involved in UR at Madison can 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.

  • Benefits of UR

    After completing their initial UR experience, 71% of undergraduate researchers pursue another UR experience. 

    Benefits by the numbers

    • 91% students indicated that their UR opportunity positively contributed to their educational experience
    • 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 
  • Funding UR

    Funding one's research involves planning. There are funds available to offset costs for research expenses such as travel, conference fees, speakers, supplies, meals and more. There are several ways to tap available resources.

    • Faculty mentors can assist with project development and help students apply for funding.
    • Another resource available is the MSU Honors College.
    • Outside of James Madison College and the Honors College, MSU Libraries has a web page with information on funding resources. 
    • Also, James Madison College has an endowment honoring Professor M. Richard Zinman. This endowment fund is designed to support students undertaking individual or small group projects of excellence under the guidance of a JMC faculty member. Download the application

    All projects must involve a teaching or mentoring relationship and must culminate in a product suitable to the project such as a scholarly paper, film, other work of art, a research report or policy memorandum.

    Contact Jeff Judge, assistant dean, at judgej@msu.edu for further information.