How to get involved in undergraduate research

Check out each of the sections below to find some helpful information and tips on how to participate in undergraduate research at LSU. If you'd like us to walk you through it, check out our short, four part video series below!

The term “undergraduate research” can encompass a wide variety of activities on a university campus. For our program, undergraduate research refers to those activities in which a student works on a creative or research project under the mentor-ship of a faculty member. These projects explore a specific topic within a field and that topic may be developed independently by the student or in collaboration with the mentor. Participation in undergraduate research can occur in one of many different modes including: paid positions, for course credit, scholarship opportunities, honors theses, or as volunteers.

The Council on Undergraduate Research, the national professional association for undergraduate research administrators and faculty, defines undergraduate as "[a] mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge." 

  • Enhance your application to graduate school.
  • Explore career directions.
  • Participate in real-word, hands-on experiences.
  • Develop your personal and professional skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and perseverance.
  • Reinforce knowledge learned in the classroom.
  • Develop a strong personal connection with a faculty mentor.

For course credit:
  • Many departments offer courses, such as Independent Study or Special Problem courses, in which you can conduct research.
    Talk to your academic advisor or a faculty member about how to take one of these courses.
For pay:
  • Students can earn an hourly wage working on their research.
  • Search our Mentor Database for faculty looking for student researchers, look for on-campus jobs in Handshake, or apply for an LSU Discover Research Project Grant.

Visit the Mentor Database
Visit Handshake
Visit the Research Project Grant page

University scholarships and work study:
  • Students with Work Study, President’s Student Aid, or a President’s Future Leaders in Research scholarship can opt to work with a faculty mentor for an hourly wage.
  • Students who are eligible for these funding sources are contacted directly by the Financial Aid and Scholarships office. Make sure to reply to their emails to indicate your acceptance of the funds.
  • Looking for a faculty member to work with? Search for available faculty in our Mentor Database. 
Other funding opportunities:
  • There are several scholarship and grant opportunities available to LSU undergraduates through various departments and programs. You can apply directly for these.
    View funding opportunities with links.

Other research students:
  • The LSU Discover Mentor Database is where faculty list their names, research topics, and contact info. Students interested in research should email them directly.  View the Mentor Database.
LSU Discover:
  • Contact us! We’re happy to answer your questions or provide guidance on how to approach faculty or search for opportunities.
  • Email us at or stop by our open office hours which are held on the following days and times:
    • Tuesdays from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. in Hatcher 333
    • Wednesdays from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. in Hatcher 331
    • Thursdays from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. in Hatcher 330

Below are some common words and terms you will see associated with undergraduate research. 

An adjunct professor is a type of academic appointment in higher education where the professor does not work at the university full-time.

The teaching staff of a university or college.

Graduate student
Someone who is pursuing an advanced degree (Masters or PhD) after having earned their undergraduate degree.

A college or university teacher whose job typically only entails teaching.

Research Mentor
An experienced person who trains and guides a student through a research or creative project.

PI or Principal Investigator
The individual responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant. This phrase is also often used as a synonym for "head of the laboratory" or "research group leader."

Post-doc or Postdoctoral Researcher
A person professionally conducting research after the completion of their doctoral studies. Postdocs most commonly have a temporary academic appointment, sometimes in preparation for an academic faculty position.

President's Student Aid (PSA)
An LSU funded work study program awarded with certain freshman merit-based scholarships that offer students an opportunity to earn money while in school.

An academic rank at universities an other post-secondary education and research institutions. A typical professor's job is to both conduct research and to teach.  The standard academic ranks for professors at LSU are:
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor

Research Associate
A professional who works in a research setting to support the efforts of a team or individual.

Work Study
Work study is a financial aid award that allows students to earn money through an on-campus job. The award is only realized if a student obtains a qualifying job and works each week to earn a bi-weekly paycheck. 
LSU offers two types of work study awards: Federal College Work Study Program and President's Student Aid.

How to get involved videos

In this four part video series we will help walk you through the information listed above, plus provide additional insight and tips on your undergraduate research options and experiences at LSU. 

Still have questions or need additional assistance? Contact us at or stop by our open office hours: 

  • Tuesdays from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. in Hatcher 333
  • Wednesdays from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. in Hatcher 331
  • Thursdays from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. in Hatcher 330