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Undergraduate Research in English: Innovative Thinking and Active Collaboration

“Undergraduate research pushes students beyond where they think they can go. They quickly find that the limits they had set for themselves before don’t actually exist. Their skills can be in truth limitless.”

–Liz S., class of 2012

“For those of you who are really passionate about a subject or text and want to explore it in much greater depth than you would be able to in a traditional class, this is definitely a program you will love!”

--Lisa M., class of 2011

“I believe wholeheartedly that the exciting, stressful, liberating, and extremely humbling experience of completing the honors thesis has been integral to my success to this point in my academic career, and also that it will continue to be a source of learning for me as I advance in both my scholarly and personal pursuits and gain new perspectives from which to view its rewards.”

--Jacob S., class of 2012


What is Undergraduate Research in English?

An undergraduate research project is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding academic experience a student can undertake at the undergraduate level. Whether you are a future teacher, have an interest in graduate school, or want to pursue creative or professional writing, you can tailor your undergraduate research experience to fit your academic interests and goals.

The English Department encourages undergraduate students to pursue research on an area of particular interest to them. An undergraduate research project allows you to work closely with a faculty member who has an expertise and interest in your subject area. Undergraduate research may be initiated by extending the work of an upper level English class beyond that class, by enrolling in an independent study, or by being invited to participate in the Departmental Honors Program. With the support of a faculty member, you may enroll in an Independent Study (ENG 4400) or, if you are an Honors student, an Honors Independent Study (ENG 4444). If you are taking ENG 4444, your independent study is the first step towards developing your honors thesis.


Who should undertake undergraduate research in English?

Though generally undertaken by advanced undergraduates, the opportunity to pursue undergraduate research is available to any student in any concentration who has a strong academic record, a passion for a specific research topic or creative project, and the desire to significantly develop their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. In addition to the many personal benefits, a research project provides clear evidence of your motivation, initiative, ability to work independently and collaboratively, and your work ethic that will be beneficial to your professional development, regardless of the career path you choose. Any student interested in applying to graduate school should seriously consider an undergraduate research project.


Where do I start?

Once you have identified a topic of study of exceptional and enduring interest to you—a project that you believe you would enjoy working on for 1-2 semesters—you should discuss your interests with faculty members who share similar interests and may be willing to mentor you as you develop your research project. Once you have some idea of your area of interest, you should also contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Department Chair.