Discover more ways to engage with the School of Psychological Sciences, from clubs and organizations to research topics, opportunities and more.
Teacher-scholars. Scientist-practitioners. Research in the School of Psychological Sciences covers a wide range of areas that include clinical, cognitive, developmental, educational and social psychology, as well as neuroscience and applied cognitive science.
General Information about being a research assistant
If you are student that plans to apply to PhD programs in psychology, then it will be a strong suggestion or a requirement from your graduate program that you have at least 1 year (or two semesters) of research experience. If you want to stand out on your application to a master's program, then gaining research experience will help you stand out on your application.
Graduate schools are not wanting you to, necessarily, do an Honors, McNair, or independent project. Instead, most programs will encourage applicants to have experience as a research assistant (RA). Working in a lab is a rewarding experience that can provide you with the opportunity to start developing as a great scientist. Ask any of your professors about their experience as a RA!
Credit for the experience vs. volunteering. Of course, anytime you volunteer for something it is going show your dedication. However, some faculty prefer their students earn credit, so they have an external incentive to keep the student motivated. The "rules" for credit are: for every 3 hours of working on research earns you 1 credit hour. So, 9 hours of work each week will earn you 3 credits. These are not graded credits, but rather a pass or fail.
There are 3 ways to start this type of experience:
1) Attend the Psychological Sciences Annual Research Forum in the fall semester. This event helps you connect to faculty that are looking for RAs.
2) Complete the Research Assistantship application.
3) Make an appointment with a faculty that has research you are interested in (or you want to work with that professor) and ask about research assistant positions in their lab. You do not automatically get an opportunity, so being professional will be necessary. You can learn about the faculty and their research interests from this page.