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Opportunities for Students

Undergraduate Student Research at SUNY Cortland

SUNY Cortland is a great place for you as an undergraduate student to participate in research. Research can take on many forms and varies greatly from discipline to discipline. Some research projects stem from a student's own interest in a particular topic that they wish to study in more detail. Other students become involved in ongoing faculty research.

Undergraduate research is a great way to develop your independent critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills.  You will have the opportunity to acquire knowledge in an academic field that transcends classroom study and provides hands-on experience to help you clarify academic and career interests and goals.

Most undergraduate research involves faculty mentorship. Faculty generally view their mentoring of undergraduates as a deeply satisfying form of teaching, although one that can require a major commitment of time and resources. Some are energized by the enthusiasm and fresh perspective that undergraduate can bring. Others feel the responsibility to “give back”, and honor the faculty who mentored them by helping the next generation.

The way YOU will choose to get started in undergraduate research is up to you—there are many “right answers”. Here are some ideas:

Independent Research for College Credit

Almost all departments offer courses in which students can engage in independent research. Many of these courses are listed with the 399 or 499 course numbers. You should review the college catalog to obtain course descriptions and specifics about any prerequisites for these courses, since each department is responsible for their own course offerings. Talk to a faculty or department chair about this option.

Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships

Cortland’s Undergraduate Research Council offers a limited number of competitive fellowships that provide an opportunity for undergraduate students and their faculty mentors to engage in eight weeks of full-time scholarly activity during the summer. These are student designed and led research projects that require a faculty mentor/sponsor and a formal proposal. There is a modest stipend for the student and up to eight weeks free on-campus housing. Click the funding and grants page for more details and application information.

Paid Research Assistant

Many faculty have their own research grants from which they employ undergraduate students to help with their research. Students engaged in an undergraduate research assistantship have the opportunity to observe a professional scholar in action. Students may help faculty in the preliminary research stages, particularly a review of literature, annotated bibliographies or databases, although students may also assist with a piece of a project.  Look for position postings in your department or talk with a faculty member to find out what’s available.


Cortland’s internship program combines academic study with career-related work/learning experiences. Quite a few local, regional, or national employers and organizations offer internships with a significant research component. Some of the experiences offer stipends, housing, and other benefits. A good place to begin searching for an internship is by talking with your department’s internship coordinator and SUNY Cortland’s career services, or on the web. Please note, deadlines for summer internship programs usually occur during the previous Fall or Winter.

Off Campus Opportunities

There are also many research opportunities and programs available outside of SUNY Cortland. This may take the form of study abroad experience, summer institutes, or fellowships. Google is a good place to start. The National Science Foundation has compiled a site of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), providing links to research opportunities in the natural sciences. 

Undergraduate Research Course Attribute

The Undergraduate Research Council (URC) oversees the College’s course attribute for Undergraduate Research (UR). The UR attribute may be assigned to courses or sections of courses in which undergraduate students engage in an authentic experiential scholarly research or creative activity. The College follows the National Council on Undergraduate Research’s definition that can be broadly applied to all academic disciplines as: An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that generates new knowledge and makes an original, intellectual, or creative contribution to the discipline.

Assigning the UR attribute to a course provides a means to formally recognize students for these high-level experiential learning activities (the UR attribute will show up on the official student transcript and Degree Works). The UR attribute will also permit the institution to assess levels of research/creative activity among our students and assess how well the college is meeting its stated mission/goals as pertaining to experiential learning.

The attribute is not appropriate for: (1) methods courses that cover research topics (e.g., measurement and evaluation, quantitative skills, etc.), nor (2) survey or literature-based research courses (e.g., those that result in review papers) and research related seminars. 

The URC has developed a set of learning outcomes that are appropriate for the UR attribute and can be applied in all academic disciplines across departments/schools at SUNY Cortland. To be considered for the UR attribute, a course (or section of a course) should address the following four learning outcomes:

  1. Articulate a research question, hypothesis, position, or purpose within the context of a discipline
  2. Describe scholarly context of research question, hypothesis, position, or purpose within a discipline
  3. Apply current and appropriate techniques and methodologies in a research or creative project
  4. Communicate knowledge from an original scholarly or creative project in a manner appropriate for that discipline

Download the UR attribute request form [pdf] [docx

Download the assessment rubric [pdf]

Completed UR attribute request forms should be forwarded to the URC Director: Maria Timberlake [] Requests for the UR attribute will be evaluated by the Undergraduate Research Council and upon acceptance, notification will be forwarded to the respective requesting faculty/department and also to the Registrar for processing.


Important Deadlines

Travel Grant Applications

Fall: Rolling Submissions
Sept 2, 2022 - Dec 2, 2022

Student Progress in Undergraduate Research Grant Application

Fall:  Rolling Submissions
Sept 2, 2022 - Nov 2, 2022

Summer Research Fellowship Information Session

Sept. 20, 2022, 4 - 5 p.m.
Nov. 3, 2022, 11 a.m. - noon

Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

TBA (for 2023-24 Academic Year)

2022-23 Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring Undergraduate Research Award

TBA (Announcement and call for nominations) 


URC Highlights