FAQ's for Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be majoring in science in order to engage in research?

How do I get started?

Do I have to wait until my junior or senior year to do research?

Can international students participate in research?

Can I receive academic credit for doing research?

How can I find undergraduate research positions?

Is there funding available to support undergraduate research?

What opportunities are there to pursue research off-campus?

How can I present or publish my research?

Can I get funding to present my research at an academic conference?

If I’m traveling abroad to do my research, what steps do I need to take before I leave campus?

Questions about Fellowships:

What are fellowships?

Are there fellowships available for first and second year students?

Are international students eligible for fellowships?

Do I have to have 4.0 GPA or be an honors student to apply for fellowships?

I’m doing an unpaid internship during the summer; is funding available?

If I’m traveling abroad for my fellowship program, what steps do I need to take before I leave campus?

Questions about Undergraduate Research:

Do I have to be majoring in science in order to engage in research?

No!

Students from across the university in disciplines as diverse as anthropology business, dance, economics, English, geography, and international affairs have engaged in undergraduate research.

Visit Profiles of Undergraduate Researchers to read about the variety of research projects recently undertaken by GW students, not only in the natural sciences but also in the humanities, creative arts, and the social sciences.

How do I get started?

The best place to begin is to visit professors during their office hours and speak with them about the questions and topics that really interest you.

You are also welcome to set up an appointment with the staff of CUFR to discuss your interests and faculty who have mentored undergraduates in the past.

Also, visit Getting Started in Undergraduate Research for some suggestions and tips.

Do I have to wait until my junior or senior year to do research?

No!

Many students engage in research during their first and second years.  First and second year students are also eligible to apply for a number of GW-sponsored research fellowships, including the GW SURE and GW Undergraduate Research Award.

Can international students participate in research?

Yes!

International students are typically eligible to work on campus with GW faculty member, though they should verify their status with the International Students Office.  International students are also eligible for undergraduate research fellowship programs sponsored by GW.

Can I receive academic credit for doing research?

Yes! 

Important: Check with your department’s undergraduate advisor.  Many departments offer a course entitled, “Undergraduate Research.”  In other departments, students may enroll in the course, “Independent Study,” using it as a means to obtain academic credit for research.  If you are conducting research off-campus, a department’s “Internship” course may be still another way for recognizing the academic value of that research experience. 

Students will soon be able to register for UNIV 3000: Undergraduate Research Experience (0 credit).  If you would like your research to be officially noted on your transcript but prefer not to register for an additional credit-bearing course, this course may be of special interest.

Again, check with you department’s undergraduate advisor course options in your major!

How can I find undergraduate research positions?

The first and most important way is to speak with your professors after class or during office hours, and share your academic interests with them.  The vast majority of research assistantships are filled by students whom faculty know through such conversations.  If your interests are not entirely aligned with your professor’s research project, s/he may know a colleague whose project is a better match for you.

CUFR is also offering on behalf of faculty to post undergraduate research positions on GWork.  Read more about how to find undergraduate research positions on GWork.

You may also set up an appointment with the staff of CUFR.  We are familiar with faculty who have mentored undergraduates on research projects in the past.

Is there funding available to support undergraduate research?

GW sponsors a university-wide undergraduate research fellowship program, open to all undergraduates.  Read more about and obtain application materials for the GW Undergraduate Research Award.  GW also offers a program that can assist with meeting expenses students may incur as they undertake a research project; read more about and obtain application materials for the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement (SURE) Award.

Also, many departments and schools offer their own undergraduate research programs, which provide funding and other forms of support to students.  To learn more, visit GW-sponsored undergraduate research programs.

What opportunities are there to pursue research off-campus?

Each year, many students conduct research off-campus.  Sites in the Metropolitan DC area include: NIH, NIST, NASA, NOAA, and National Children’s Hospital, among others.

CUFR also maintains a database of nationally competitive research opportunities (new window), which may be filtered by a number of search criteria.

How can I present or publish my research?

CUFR maintains a list of undergraduate research journals. Gelman Library does as well, and you are encouraged to inquire with the research librarians specializing in your field of study.  Many undergraduate research journals are field-specific, and so, ask faculty in your major about other venues through which you might publish your research.

Faculty in your department will also be aware of opportunities students may have to present at a professional, academic conference.  Many faculty have supported students making such conference presentations.

Can I get funding to present my research at an academic conference?

Yes!

GW’s Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement (SURE) Award was established in part to support students seeking to present their research to a wider community of scholars and scientists.

Individual departments and schools have also provided this kind of support to students, and so, be sure to discuss your plans with you academic advisor.

If I’m traveling abroad to do my research, what steps do I need to take before I leave campus?

Prior to your departure, students are responsible for obtaining travel approval from GW’s Office of International Programs.  Learn more about the travel approval process for students.

If you are receiving a stipend from GW to support your research, it is often best to establish direct deposit so that funds will be immediately available to you.  To establish direct deposit, visit Payroll Services.

Questions about Fellowships:

What are fellowships?

Fellowships are competitive awards that provide remarkable experiences and support for students interested in study abroad, graduate study, careers in public service, international affairs, teaching, scientific research, engineering, journalism and a host of other fields and endeavors.

GW offers a number of fellowship programs to current and former students; read more GW-sponsored fellowship programs.

There are also many nationally competitive fellowships programs.  Some fellowship programs require university nomination or endorsement, and to apply for those awards, it is necessary to work closely with the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research; read more about fellowship programs requiring GW nomination.

CUFR also maintains a database of nationally competitive programs, to which students and alumni may apply independently.

Are there fellowships available for first and second year students?

Yes!

Visit our database of nationally competitive fellowships programs.  Under “Class Year,” be sure to visit all of the pages for which you would be eligible.

Are international students eligible for fellowships?

Yes!

Many GW-sponsored fellowship programs are available for all enrolled students, including international students.  You are encouraged, however, to read the eligibility requirements for each of those programs.

Many nationally competitive awards do require US citizenship or permanent residency.  CUFR does maintain a list of national programs for which international students have been eligible in the past.  If you are interested in receiving a copy of that list, contact us.

Do I have to have 4.0 GPA or be an honors student to apply for fellowships?

No.

Students who possess a B+ or A- average who have a rich record community service and pre-professional experiences would be strong applicants for many programs. 

Some of the most competitive fellowship programs, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, and Goldwater scholarships and the Carnegie Junior Fellows program, do have very high GPA expectations, however.  Students and alumni should consider carefully whether they have the academic record to be able to submit competitive applications for these programs.

I’m doing an unpaid internship during the summer; is funding available?

We encourage you to consider carefully the academic and pre-professional benefits you may enjoy through unpaid internships.  Such positions ought to be accepted with those benefits and your financial situation in mind, and not with the hope you will receive funding from other sources to support you.

That said, there are a few limited sources of funds that may support specific kinds of unpaid internships:

The Shapiro Public Service Award supports summer unpaid internships with non-profits and government agencies and offices, either in Washington, DC or students’ hometowns.

Students are also encouraged to investigate the Career Center’s new Knowledge in Action Grant program, for necessarily unpaid internships.

In the past, students have used internships abroad as rich settings for research projects; those research projects require careful planning, however.  The Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research supports students who are seeking to wring the most educational value of such co-curricular experiences.

If I’m traveling abroad for my fellowship program, what steps do I need to take before I leave campus?

If you have received a GW-sponsored fellowship, students are responsible for obtaining travel approval from GW’s Office of International Programs prior to their departures.  Learn more about the travel approval process for students.

If you are receiving a stipend from GW, it is often best to establish direct deposit so that funds will be immediately available to you.  To establish direct deposit, visit Payroll Services.

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