Psychology Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Research in Psychology

Dr. Shaffer's Spring 2013 Applied Psychophysiology Research Team.
Dr. Shaffer’s Spring 2013 Applied Psychophysiology Research Team.

Why should I get involved in research?

As a basic and an applied science, psychology advances through research. You will learn fundamental research skills in your major courses, but additional research experience strengthens skills used in the work place and especially in graduate school. Additional research experience will enhance many graduate applications, and research mentors may serve as professional references. It may be possible to satisfy your “scholarship hours” and/or earn course credit through research activities

What would I do as a student researcher?

Some students complete independent research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor, and others work as part of a professor’s research team. Research activities often include reviewing published research reports, developing new hypotheses, designing methods to test the hypotheses, collecting data from human participants, coding and analyzing data, and presenting results at conferences or in journal articles. The focus of these basic activities varies with the psychology specialty area (e.g., social, developmental, physiological, cognitive, clinical).

How do I get involved?

Getting involved can be as simple as asking a professor to join her/his research team or to mentor an individual project. Of course, professors’ teams and schedules may be full, so your persistence and preparation may be important. Regarding persistence, you may need to wait a semester or two before a research slot opens. Regarding preparation, some professors favor students with high GPAs, solid plans to enter a psychology Ph.D. program (where the research experience will be most useful), and well-developed research ideas.

In addition to approaching faculty members about joining research teams, Truman offers several programs for students interested in pursuing undergraduate research.

  • McNair Program: The McNair program was established to involve disadvantaged undergraduate students in research and preparation for doctoral studies.
  • TruScholars: TruScholars is a summer research program designed for collaborative student-faculty research. The program is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • Student Research Conference: Truman’s Student Research Conference is an annual event that allows students and their faculty mentors to present research they have conducted.