Undergraduate Research Program (Academic Year)

The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) helps students identify a research project during the academic year. Full time undergraduate students may pursue research for academic credit or as a paid research assistant working in the labs of world-leading Rensselaer faculty researchers. The sponsoring department or faculty member is responsible for the financial support a research assistant receives. In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Education will match up to a maximum of $400 per academic semester.

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We encourage all full time undergraduates from all schools to apply for the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). 

Application Process:

  1. Identify an advisor and a project.
  2. Complete the appropriate application:
    1. URP Applications requesting funding: Students should complete the Summer 2023 URP Application and obtain the required signatures.  Email confirmation from the faculty research supervisor in lieu of a signature on the form will be accepted.  Completed applications should be emailed to Jeanette Cassino (raptoj@rpi.edu) AND Jamie Obst (violaj2@rpi.edu). 
    2. URP Applications requesting credit: Complete the 4UR Form and submit to the Registrar’s Office via email to registrar@rpi.edu. (The add deadline for Summer 2023 is Monday, June 5, 2023).
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Previous Projects

Review examples of previous Undergraduate Research projects.

Examples of Previous Projects


Identifying a Research Advisor and Project

A good rule for finding an advisor or project is to start with what you know. Most undergraduates find projects from faculty members from whom they have taken classes.

Start with Faculty

Many Professors will make announcements in their classes or post information about available projects at their offices. Some even have links for information on their current research projects at their personal websites. A good place to start your search is to determine a faculty member with whom you may want to work on a project. Check their website to investigate their field of research. If it sounds interesting, approach them about a possible URP project.

Approaching a Faculty Member

Please be considerate of the faculty member that you are going to be asking for a project. Make sure you have already read about the research they do and show an interest in the topic. Be prepared to tell them of any relevant coursework you have completed or other experience that you have that would be applicable to a project they may have. If possible, prepare a short resume outlining these details. If you are responding to an advertised project, take time prior to speaking with them to investigate the project fully and be prepared with some specific questions and ideas about the project.

Research Conducted on Campus

If you do not have a specific faculty member in mind, begin with the different types of research conducted in your department or the research interests of the faculty within your department. You may also do projects outside of your major, so consider checking the research being done in other departments, too. For example, an engineering product development project may need someone with knowledge of psychology and human factors to research human interaction with the product. Once you find a field of research that interests you, learn a little more about it.

I Have My Own Idea for a Project

You may work with a faculty member on an existing research project or on a project based on your own ideas. If you want to pursue your own project, find a faculty advisor who may be interested in your topic since you will be required to have a project advisor.


Apply for Credit or Funding

Students can request course credit OR funding for their research project.

Course Credit

Earn 1 — 4 Credits

The number of credit hours you earn is negotiable between you and your faculty sponsor. If you choose this option you and your sponsor need to:

  • Determine how many credit hours you will earn (1 — 4)
  • Decide exactly what is expected of you, such as your time commitment (no more than 12 hours per week), the type of work to be submitted
  • Agree on how your grade will be determined

Please refer to http://finance.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=79 for additional information regarding credit hours. During the summer term, you will be billed for each URP credit hour for which you register.

Applying for Credit

When you complete the Undergraduate Research Project (URP) application form simply check the "I am requesting Credit" designation.  All applications with this designation are sent to the appropriate department for approval.  Decide how much time you will work; most projects expect eight hours per week not to exceed twelve hours of research per week.

You will not receive formal approval notification from the Office of Undergraduate Education.

With your sponsor, complete a Research Registration Form (4UR) and submit this form directly to the Registrar's Office.

Deadline for Credit

Same as the Registrar's "Add Course" deadline.


Students who have participated in the URP for pay have earned between $400 — $3,000 per semester. 

FUNDING SOURCE: Sponsoring Faculty Member or Department

The faculty sponsor or department is responsible for the financial support of your research.  The URP application should be submitted to the Department URP Coordinator in the department in which you are working.

The Department Coordinator:

  • Reviews the URP application for completeness
  • Processes your Payroll request
  • Forwards the URP application to the Office of Undergraduate Education for approval
  • Will set up a schedule for reporting your hours via web-time entry

FUNDING SOURCE: The Office of Undergraduate Education

The Office of Undergraduate Education pays URP participants up to a maximum of $400 per semester in the form of matching funds. Applications that are submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Education that do not contain funding from the sponsoring department will not be approved for matching funds.  Applications requesting funding from the Office of Undergraduate Education that are received after the application deadline will not be approved for matching funds. However, the sponsoring department's funding will be approved.

Applying for Funding

When you complete the Undergraduate Research Project (URP) application form simply check the "I am requesting Funding" designation.  

Deadline for Funding

Third Friday of the Fall and Spring semesters.

Getting Paid

You and your sponsor determine the total amount you will earn and rate of pay.  The minimum hourly rate for the URP is $13.20, however the rate that the sponsoring faculty member pays to you from their funds is negotiable. Decide how much time you will work; most projects expect eight hours per week not to exceed twelve hours of research per week. Pay checks are issued every other Friday.

    File Collection

    Department Coordinators

    Students must submit their application to the URP coordinator for the department in which the project will take place. Department Coordinators are responsible for the administrative details between the faculty researcher and the institute for the URP.

    File Collection

    15th Annual Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium

    The Undergraduate Research Symposium is Rensselaer's premiere event for students to present their research project to faculty and students and earn valuable experience participating in a simulated research conference that will be virtual.

    Registering for the Event

    Undergraduate Research Symposium Registration Form

    How to Participate

    • Register for the event.
    • Define your research category (see Types of Research Categories below).
    • Prepare an abstract (see Preparing an Abstract below).
    • Prepare oral presentation (see Making an Oral Presentation).
    • Present oral presentation at the Research Forum (see Process and Important Dates below).


    • Be a full time undergraduate student, in good academic standing, currently enrolled at Rensselaer.
    • Have worked on an independent study or team-based project conducted under the supervision of, or with integral involvement of, a Rensselaer faculty member for at least 2 semesters. Design projects submitted for an undergraduate course are not acceptable. Design teams (e.g., SAE course) can present an innovative part of their project.
    • Agree to deliver an oral presentation.
    • Submit an abstract. The undergraduate who submits the abstract and completes the online registration form is the Team Leader and must be the same undergraduate who will present at the symposium. This same undergraduate Team Leader must be the first named co-author in the submitted abstract.
    • The Team Leader will be notified of type of presentation by April 3rd, 2023

    Day of Event

    • See Process & Important Dates below for detailed schedule and timings.
    • The judges will be given a list of presenters in the session, and a brief abstract of each project. They will base their award decisions on the discussions and their impressions about the quality of your research work and poster presentation
    • Dress Code – Professional attire suggested.

    Process and Important Dates

    what when where
    Deadline to submit registration form and abstract, including name of faculty sponsor March 10th, by 5:00pm Online registration form
    Notification of type of presentation assigned April 3rd Email to team leader
    Prepare and complete oral presentation in accordance with guidelines (see below) Through April 11th Your location
    Oral presentations to panel of judges (bring a fully charged laptop, connectors, and flash drive with your presentation)  April 12th, 3:00-5:00pm Virtual (details to come)
    Award assigned for all research team members and faculty sponsors.  By April 21st  Emailed certificates

    Awards & Judging

    Awards and honorable mentions are given for the oral presentations. Two judges will evaluate the quality of your research and presentation. One judge will be from outside your field.

    Oral Presentation PowerPoint Guide

    Students will submit a PDF presentation of their research limited to a maximum of 6 slides.

    • Slide 1 –Title Slide (your name, research project title, faculty and laboratory name)
    • Slide 2-Research Statement, Project relevance, and hypothesis
    • Slide 3-Work Plan
    • Slide-4 Method and Materials
    • Slide 5-Results and Analysis
    • Slide 6- Conclusion

    Any undergraduates doing research that would also like to share their work will have the opportunity to display their research through a poster submission. Posters will be on display for the Rensselaer community in the Folsom Library from April 10 - April 28, 2023. A poster submission is optional and cannot replace the oral presentation component in the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Posters to be displayed may be up to 33" tall by 28" wide. Students should submit their posters to Emily Thomas in the Folsom Library by the end of the day on Thursday, April 6th. 

    Additional Symposium Documents

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    Fall 2021 URP Information Session

    The Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) was pleased to partner with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), for an Information Session on the Undergraduate Research Program on September 8, 2021. This session intended to inform and engage students toward deeper questioning leading to a better understanding of URP research opportunities. Please click the link below to view the slides.

    Click here to view the presentation


    Undergraduate Research and Graduate School Opportunities Recording

    Rensselaer Family Forums through Student Services are a virtual program series designed to connect all families with relevant and timely topics impacting our campus community.  Parents are invited to sign up for these virtual events monthly through the Parent & Family Newsletter and they are recorded. On October 20, The Office of Undergraduate Research was invited to speak about the Undergraduate Research Program. We discussed topics like how to get involved and how it works.

    Watch the recording here