There are a lot of great opportunities for Liberal Arts majors to become involved in undergraduate research as research assistants. Research assistants may earn academic credit or be paid hourly or with a stipend. They may also be volunteers.
The experience can help you to develop skills that will be attractive to future employers, and it also can help you with making a decision about whether or not you would like to pursue a graduate degree. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your professors!
Some places to start with identifying opportunities include:
- Penn State’s Undergraduate Research
- Your academic department web site
- A professor you had for a class that you especially liked
- Your academic adviser
- Various Penn State institutes and centers (usually found on the College web site)
Remember that you don’t have to seek out opportunities only in your own academic department. If you’re a CAS major interested in politics, then you may want to check out Penn State’s Center for Democratic Deliberation. If you’re a History major interested in literature, then you may want to ask if there are research opportunities with the Center for American Literary Studies. Any Liberal Arts students interested in global issues may find the Center for Global Studies is the place for them to connect with a research question or project. At a place the size of Penn State, the sky is the limit! Think about what you’re interested in, and then start doing some research to identify faculty whose interests match yours. You may also check the positions posted in Network Symplicity to see if there is an undergraduate research position that interests you.
When you contact a professor about a possible research opportunity, approach the conversation as if you were applying for a job (because you are!). Provide a copy of your resume and use your email inquiry as a cover letter to highlight why you are interested in working with the professor and the skills you can bring to the project.
There are a number of opportunities to request funding to support your undergraduate research experience, so be sure to check on the Enrichment Funds section of this site for more information.