Maryland Student Researchers Program
The Maryland Student Researchers (MSR) program is a database of on-campus research opportunities for undergraduates. It is designed to help undergraduates find research opportunities and to help faculty members find research assistants. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of research opportunities available at the University of Maryland. Almost all professors engage in research, and individual departments' websites will provide a more comprehensive list.
To search for fall or spring semester MSR opportunities mentored by a professor or other professional
University researcher, use the search box below. Opportunities are updated each August (prior to fall semester) and January (prior to spring semester).
For Faculty: Submit a Maryland Student Researchers Opportunity. Please note that you will need to enter your UMD user ID and password in order to access the form. If access is denied, close out of the page and try again. Please also note that MCUR no longer issues transcript notations for students who participate in MSR opportunities.
We recommend that you review carefully the advice provided below as you begin searching for MSR opportunities,
and before you contact faculty to apply for a posted opportunity.
Beginning Your Research Experience
Undergraduate research assistants typically work four to ten hours a week (may be unpaid or paid) under the direction of a faculty mentor on that faculty member’s own research. Students learn skills and gain valuable experience that will enhance their graduate school and job qualifications, all while making significant contributions to the fearless discoveries that drive UMD.
1. Make sure you're ready to take on research
We recommended that students interested in participating in research have the following characteristics:
Be in good academic standing: Because students on academic probation for consecutive semesters may be subject to academic dismissal from the University, we strongly recommend that such students NOT seek or commit time to undergraduate research activities until they have restored themselves to good academic standing at a minimum.
Have a minimum GPA of 2.5: If you are struggling or underperforming in one or more areas academically it is in your best interests to focus on strengthening your performance in your classes before committing substantial time to an extracurriculur research project.
Have completed at least 15 credits at College Park: Adjusting to your new life and studies at the University of Maryland can take time. If you are a first semester freshman, we recommend that you make settling in well your priority. If you get off to a strong start in your coursework and develop good time-management skills at the college-level, you will be much better prepared to take on the time commitment of research.
Are willing to work as a research assistant for at least one semester: Research mentors invest substantial time and effort to train undergraduates to be effective contributors to their research projects. That investment will pay off best for both parties—for you and for your mentor—if you are prepared to commit yourself for at least one full semester of participation in a research project.
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2. Search for research opportunities
Use the MSR database below to identify research projects of interest to you. Be sure to use a variety of keywords to generate the largest number of possible projects. Also, look in fields outside of, but related to your own to increase your chances of finding a good fit. For example if you are a biology major, you may find research of interest in Kinesiology, or if you are studying Chinese, you might look for projects about East Asian history, politics, or society. If you are still struggling to find an opportunity that is of interest to you, you may consider searching your college or department's website using the resources listed here
Once you have found a project that interests you, read our advice below on Questions to ask professors when you contact them and Tips on getting the most out of an MSR opportunity. Being well-informed and having realistic expectations, will help you to have a rewarding research experience.
E-mail the researcher whose project you wish to join. Attach copies of a cover letter (optional), resume, and unofficial transcript to the e-mail. Introduce yourself (briefly) and explain why you want to join that particular project. Statements such as "I need to do research to get into medical school" will not encourage professors to commmit time and resources to training you. Your application will ALWAYS be more effective if you provide specific, sincere reasons for contacting a researcher about their project. For example:
Dear Professor Blank,
My name is Sara and I am a junior with a double major in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and Journalism. I saw your project on DNA Tumor Virology and am very interested in joining, as I am considering going to graduate school to study Virology. I have completed the courses listed as prerequisites for your project. If you still have places available in your lab, I would love to be involved in your work. Please find my resume and unofficial transcript attached.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sara Jane Smith
The UMD Career Center has effective resources to help you prepare a good, concise cover letter and resume. You can find these here:
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3. Ask the important questions:
As a Maryland Student Researcher, you are responsible for fulfilling the duties agreed upon with your mentor. The following is a list of questions that it would be helpful for you to discuss with your mentor before beginning your research assistantship.
How many hours will I be expected to work per week?
What will my schedule be(e.g., Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12-2pm)?
What will my responsibilities be?
Who will be my direct supervisor and how much supervision will I receive?
Where will I perform my responsibilities?
What if I get sick or have too much school work one week? How can I make up the hours? Who should I contact if I am not coming to work?
What are my start date and end date? Will I be responsible for working during exam week? Will I be required to work during breaks such as spring break?
We suggest printing out these questions before you speak with a potential faculty mentor. These questions are based on suggestions from prior Maryland Student Researchers.
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4. Get the most out of your experience:
As a Maryland Student Researcher, you have an opportunity to gain invaluable research skills and experiences. MCUR aims for you to be introduced to the research process and to learn more about a field that interests you. An added benefit is that you will have a chance to build a relationship with a faculty member outside of the classroom.
The following are some tips on how to get the most out of your research experience:
You and your research mentor should come to a clear, explicit agreement concerning the number of hours you will work and your daily and weekly schedules before you begin your position. You should also have a clear understanding of how you and your research mentor will communicate (personal meetings, email updates, reports), how often you will communicate, and how often you will meet in person.
Ask your faculty mentor or a graduate student to explain the larger picture of the project and how it relates to current research in the field. Through this you may learn more about your field of interest and the process of research more generally.
Be assertive and direct when communicating with your faculty mentor. If you are unclear about directions for a particular task, ask for clarification. Ensure you have an agreed-upon way to ask questions and receive feedback and guidance.
Manage your time wisely and perform your research tasks regularly. You and your faculty mentor will benefit the most from your work as a research assistant if you set and keep regular working hours. If special circumstances do arise, notify your mentor as soon as possible.
Make a sincere and enthusiastic commitment to your project. While some tasks may seem insignificant, careful attention to minor tasks is crucial to any project's success. Make sure your mentor knows you appreciate the time he or she spends with you.
Search for Fall or Spring Semester Professor-mentored MSR Opportunities Using Keywords:
Search Tip: You can search by college (e.g., BSOS, CMNS, AGNR, etc.) or by academic fields (biology, art history, economics, etc.)
or by topics (e.g., Africa, women’s health, civil war, etc.). To increase your chances of finding projects that are a good fit for your interests, conduct multiple searches using a variety of keywords. Projects well-suited for your interests may be listed by researchers in colleges or majors other than your own. Be aware that you can only search for one key word at a time.
Search all research opportunities
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Have a great semester! If you have any questions during the semester, feel free to contact the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org