Get Involved in a Research Project

You can be involved in research at many levels. If you want to get involved in research before the formal research courses in their curricula, you can do so by volunteering, which may involved observing or participating in several data collections, participating on a regular basis as a volunteer, or for academic credit. As an undergraduate student, you have the opportunity to participate in a full-time Undergraduate Research Fellowship during the summer months. 


You may volunteer in a faculty member’s lab before making the commitment to undertake a more formal commitment to research. Some faculty advisors require a period of volunteering before they will accept you into their research group. As a volunteer, you do not receive pay or credit, but can pick up pointers from other students, sleuth in the library, learn where equipment is kept, and learn how to use some of the computer programs, machinery, etc., while reading about the subject being investigated. Volunteer research is also an alternative if you have no need of credit and are involved in a research project that is not funded. The terms of a volunteer commitment are qualitatively the same as those for research recognized by credit or funding.

Course Credit

You can earn academic credit for your research assistance, from one to six or more credits per semester depending upon the amount of work you and the faculty mentor agree on. These course credits would be over and above the research course credits that you may earn in your curriculum and are usually in the form of an Independent Study course. When registering for an Independent Study course, you must complete an Independent/Directed Study Contract, found on the website of the Registrar. Independent study courses usually do not satisfy any requirements of a degree and taking independent study courses may cause you to incur additional tuition fees, so you are strongly advised to check with your academic advisor to determine the requirements and charges for their program. The work commitment per credit hour is as follows:

Fall and Spring Semesters

  • 1 credit = 4 hrs/week
  • 2 credits = 7 hrs/week
  • 3 credits = 10 hrs/week
  • Summer Sessions: At least double the above hours/week

Paid Positions

In rare circumstances, you may work for a stipend if funding is available.You generally cannot receive both full course credit and salary; however, in some cases a combination of credit and pay may be worked out. Actual terms are worked out between you and your faculty advisor. Some faculty advertise paid research positions on the Biddeford and Portland campuses on the website under Student Employment Programs, Federal Work Study Program. You must have been awarded Federal Work Study funds to apply for Federal Work Study jobs.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships*

WCHP, with support from the Office of Sponsored Programs, offers full-time research experiences to select undergraduate students who apply to work in the research group of a faculty member for 8–12 weeks in the summer. Research fellowships are not offered for graduate students because most of the graduate programs run all year so students are not free during the summer months. The Undergraduate Research Fellowship includes a stipend to cover living expenses and some funding for supplies. You can also live on the Biddeford Campus at a reduced rate. Applications for the WCHP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships are generally available early in the Spring semester. If you wish to apply for a Fellowship, you are advised to begin investigating potential advisors (from any College) as early as possible so you will be prepared to complete the application soon after you return to campus after the New Year.

*Each of the colleges that make up the University of New England offers its own students funding for research experiences but the amount of the funding and the method used to apply for those funds may be different. WCHP undergraduates must apply for a WCHP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, however, the advisor with whom the WCHP student wishes to work may be from any college at UNE.