Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry




There are several ways to connect with undergraduate research and artistry opportunities. Some paths may appeal to you more than others, so try those first (maybe even simultaneously!). If you are not finding a connection through one path, however, do not allow it to frustrate you. Instead, pursue another approach. If you become involved in research and artistry early in your undergraduate program, you might have more than one experience and even find those through different routes.

Dawn Mallette, Assistant Professor in the School of Education in the College of Health and Human Sciences interacting with students during class discussion
Dawn Mallette, Assistant Professor in the School of Education in the College of Health and Human Sciences interacting with students during class discussion

Many of your course instructors and department faculty have their own research or artistry pursuits. One way to find an opportunity is to connect with a faculty member directly. Sometimes professors (or graduate TAs) have opportunities available and will recruit directly from the classes they teach. Even if one of your faculty members doesn’t do this, you can approach them. It never hurts to ask. If you are enjoying certain courses, you may want to look at the professors’ webpages (on their department sites) for descriptions of their research or artistry. Also, maybe you are universally enjoying the courses your major has you taking, or maybe you declared your major with a particular interest in mind. In those cases, you can explore faculty pages to find potential matches. Our “5 steps to Undergraduate Research” describe how to connect with potential faculty mentors directly.

If you aren’t certain about approaching a faculty member directly, and looking at faculty webpages increases your uncertainty, your academic advisor may be able to help. Academic advisors can describe the main areas of work in the department and narrow your interests, and then explain which faculty members conduct work in ththat area. They may also keep data on what a faculty member looks for in potential undergraduate research and artistry assistants. For instance, maybe you will need certain skills or prerequisite courses. Some advisors even keep data on what professors in your department have mentored students in the past, and what professors may be currently looking for student assistants.

Academic advisors may also be able to connect you with research or artistry internships that are outside CSU. Many of these may be summer opportunities, but some outside agencies can offer opportunities during “regular terms” as well.

The Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry and CSU’s Career Center are both encouraging faculty and mentors within CSU to post opportunities on Handshake. Handshake is a tool used by Career Services. If you learn to navigate opportunities with this tool now, it will help you if you want to later search for outside internships, or eventual employment opportunities.

  1. Create a student account on Handshake. Once you do this, the account will remain for as long as you are a CSU student. See the Career Services video on how to create a student account.
  2. Search for positions.
    • Use the search terms “undergraduate research” or “undergraduate artistry,” or search with “research” or “artistry” tags.
    • To limit your search to CSU research and artistry opportunities, change your setting to search by institution (and select Colorado State University) or limit the region of the search to “within 5 miles” of Fort Collins.
  3. Submit an application. Many positions will only ask for a cover letter, but you may also be asked to submit a cover letter, resume or transcript. See our professional tips for cover letters, resumes, and how to request transcripts.
  4. Check your applications and email regularly… and in the meantime prepare for a discussion or meeting with your perspective mentor. If you are nervous, the Career Center can help you prepare in a “practice interview.”

The Career Center may also have resources specific to your field/major.  For instance, one resource from the Career Center is “How to find a research experience in the sciences” (some steps are applicable to all fields).  You are strongly encouraged to contact the Career Center directly to learn about their resources.

In many fields, there are courses that have research and artistry built into the curriculum. In STEM fields, you may be working with a team of students, be given a set of equipment and distributed some preliminary background. You might then be asked to develop hypotheses, investigate existing work further, then design and conduct a unique experiment, and eventually present your results. In the liberal arts, courses may have group-based projects that result in new creative work that can be presented to audiences, or courses may require you to create work that could contribute to an individual portfolio. In all these cases, the faculty teaching the course will be your mentor(s), so you will not need to search for your own. OURA is maintaining a list of CUREs, but if courses in your field are not listed, ask your advisor.

The Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry can help you prepare to navigate the above methods, but we also provide additional resources to students, both on-campus and off-campus.
On campus:
OURA can help you navigate the methods described above if you contact us, but we also have different structured opportunities for ongoing students. These include the Honors Undergraduate Research Scholars, the OURA Lab, Undergraduate Research Academies, and the Mentored Research and Artistry Program. We also partner on campus with organizations such as Wolves to Rams and United in STEMM.
Off campus:
OURA maintains a searchable excel file for reoccurring off-campus experiences. These experiences may be hosted at other campuses, national laboratories, notional or state political offices, national parks, municipal arts organizations, etc. Other opportunities may be found through Handshake, using the same instructions as before but expanding your search beyond CSU. More opportunities are available during summer terms, but some organizations or offices have opportunities during the school year as well, where you would need to coordinate with your advisor to take planned leave, and to make sure you understand how your course sequencing will be effected. If your field is not represented on our list, reach out to your academic advisor. CSU Career Services also is willing to help students in any discipline match with opportunities.