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GREady: Get Ready for Graduate School

Do you want to attend graduate school? If the answer is yes, shift the gear in drive. This blog will help you 1) stay informed about graduate programs, 2) decide on graduate schools, 3) apply for graduate schools (including the GRE and personal statements), 4) prepare for interviews, 5) find funding and lots more. Although this site cannot guarantee a masters or doctoral position, it does promise that you will be a very competitive candidate for your desired program!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bulking Up Your Credentials: Summer Research Programs


It seems like more and more programs expect that students have had a least one undergraduate research experience. Many universities will allow students to work with faculty members either through work study or through an individual agreement. However, it is extremely important to understand that you must diversify your experiences and that the more opportunities you seek, the bigger the edge you will have over other candidates. Some summer programs to consider are listed below:

Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program – This program is dedicated to the astronaut and physicist Ronald McNair, who tragically died in the Challenger accident. It is specifically designed for juniors entering their senior year in an undergraduate program. The primary focus is to see minority and/or first generation college students earn their undergraduate degree and pursue higher education in the form of a master’s or doctoral degree. However, in rare cases sophomores are accepted. Depending upon the undergraduate facility, you will either be assigned or decide which faculty member in your field to research with. Also, you will be expected to design a project or continue to research the faculty member’s current project. The McNair Scholars Program typically lasts 10 weeks and involves writing a research paper, including an abstract, which will be published in the university’s McNair journal. A stipend of around $2,000 is also given. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to present your research project in an oral or poster format at the National McNair Scholars Conference.

Research Experience for Undergraduates Program- The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for the purpose. This solicitation features two mechanisms for support of student research: (1) REU Sites are based on independent proposals to initiate and conduct projects that engage a number of students in research. REU Sites may be based in a single discipline or academic department, or on interdisciplinary or multi-department research opportunities with a coherent intellectual theme. Proposals with an international dimension are welcome. A partnership with the Department of Defense supports REU Sites in DoD-relevant research areas. (2) REU Supplements may be requested for ongoing NSF-funded research projects or may be included as a component of proposals for new or renewal NSF grants or cooperative agreements. Undergraduate student participants in either Sites or Supplements must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. Most individual REU programs require students to be of junior status. A stipend or around $4,000.00 is supplied to students for living and other expenses. REU students will be expected to present his/her project in a PowerPoint presentation to the university’s graduate school.

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) - A program to expose talented undergraduates to professional and educational opportunities in the academy. The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue academic careers by enhancing their preparation for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors. The major activity of the SROP is an in-depth research experience with students working one-on-one with faculty mentors. SROP students are required to write a paper and an abstract describing their projects and to present the results of their work at a campus symposium. Each student receives a stipend of at least $2,500 for the summer, plus up to $1,100 toward room and board and travel to and from the host institution. The faculty mentor may receive $500 to cover the cost of the student's research project. The host institutions provide funding for students to attend the annual SROP conference.

Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Program- The Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship Program of the Council on Undergraduate Research provides support for a seminal experience in the life of an undergraduate natural or social science, mathematics, or engineering student. Fellowships provide ten weeks of research with a faculty mentor on the student’s home campus. The student and mentor apply jointly. Research projects are conducted during the summer between the junior and senior years. Fellowships currently provide a student stipend of $3,000 - $3,500 and $500 for supplies and materials. Some awards also provide up to $500 in travel funds for the student to present a poster or a talk at a scientific meeting and a $500 stipend for the faculty member who serves as mentor. CUR has established an endowment fund named after CUR founder, Brian Andreen, to support these fellowships. In addition, CUR accepts contributions from individuals and corporate and government sponsors for current-year support.

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