Getting Involved in Undergraduate Research

Tips for Securing a Research Opportunity


First, look here for the list of Viterbi faculty and labs that are currently taking undergraduate researchers:

After checking the above list:

  • Search faculty webpages to learn more about the types of research being conducted at USC and in Viterbi. Think about your interests and don’t hesitate to contact someone outside of your major.
  • After learning more about the types of research at USC, use your network! Talk with your professors, TAs, and students you already know. It is possible they know the faculty member(s) you want to work alongside and they may be able to connect you with that person.
  • Once you’ve found some projects, faculty members, or labs that you’re interested in, it’s time to contact to faculty to see if working in their lab will be a good fit.  Follow the contacting procedure given on the Undergraduate Research Matching List.
  • Remember to cast a wide net! You might contact several faculty before you find a good fit. Don’t get discouraged!

Tips for contacting faculty

  • Use the body of your email as a letter of introduction: state your name, major, interest in their project, contact information, and request to meet with the faculty member or someone they designate
  • Attach your up-to-date resume or curriculum vitae to the email; you can have your resume or curriculum vitae reviewed at the Viterbi Career Connections Office.

Your next step is to meet with the faculty member to discuss your interest in their project and if working in their lab will be a good fit for you and them. When you meet with a faculty member, prepare some questions. Read a journal or article they’ve published. You want to be interested in the faculty member’s work and get along with their team of people.

If you feel you’ve found a good fit and you are offered a position on the project, make certain to cover the following details:

  • Who will supervise you directly?
  • What exactly will you be doing? Make certain you will be contributing to the project and gaining the experience you’re looking for.
  • When should you start and where should you report to on your first day?
  • What kind of safety training will you need, if any?

Published on August 31st, 2021

Last updated on June 21st, 2024