Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Senior Thesis

    Research Participation for Undergraduates in the HDFS Department
    1. Field Experience: Faculty frequently have research projects that students serve as Research Assistants for. The type of work you would do varies, as does the number of credits available. You do NOT have to be doing a senior thesis to work as a Research Assistant for Field Experience. If you are interested in serving as a research assistant, talk to Candace Philbrick or a faculty member whose research area interests you.
    2. Senior Thesis: This is a particularly useful option for students thinking of going on to graduate school. A senior thesis requires a student to complete an independent research project under the supervision of faculty member. More specific requirements for the senior thesis are outlined on the next page.
    Faculty Research Projects Open to Student Participation

    There are several opportunities available within the HDFS Department for Undergraduate Students to participate in Research Activities.

    Why Participate in Research?

    Participation in research as an undergraduate student provides you with valuable experience that will continue to benefit you long after you graduate.

    Some benefits:
    1. Opportunity to work directly with and get to know a faculty member. 
    2. Exposure to different ways of thinking about issues related to children and families.
    3. Enhanced organizational, planning, and critical thinking skills. These will benefit you both in your career and during graduate school.
    4. Chance to "learn the ropes" if you are thinking about going on to graduate school. This will better prepare you for the new challenges you will face.
    5. Potential for obtaining a letter of recommendation for graduate school, scholarships, fellowships, and employment. The letter writer would have more to write about given his/her increased interaction with you.
    6. Depending on your level of involvement and contribution to the project, there may be opportunities to present at conferences or to contribute to publishing reports based on the research.
    7. Participation in undergraduate research is becoming increasingly important for admission to graduate school in many areas. Evidence that you have participated in the research process helps you to be more competitive.
    Ongoing Research Projects

    Several HDFS faculty members are conducting ongoing research projects. See the options at their lab websites listed below. If you want to learn more or ask how you can participate in the research, send an email to the faculty member.

    Healthy Aging Lab

    Linked Lives

    Understanding Adolescent Development

    Senior Thesis Forms

    Requirements for senior thesis


    1. Completed Stat 330
    2. Completed HDFS Research Methods Course, HDFS 250
    3. Minimum GPA- 3.0
    4. Senior Standing (or will have Senior Standing when begin thesis process)
    5. Complete the application process - the application packet will include a completed and signed form from a faculty member who agrees to supervise the student's senior thesis. Additional prerequisite if planning to do a qualitative project: Take an independent study or Special Topics course in Qualitative Research Design & Analyses - faculty member must agree to supervise this course. Should take this spring of junior year.

    TimelineSemester 1: (recommended Fall Senior year): Take 2 credits Field Experience supervised by thesis advisor (optional)Semester 2: (recommended Spring Senior year): Take 3 credits HDFS 491 Seminar: Senior Thesis supervised by thesis advisor.

    Other Guidelines* Senior Thesis Committee: faculty supervisor plus one other faculty member* Faculty Supervisor approval of proposal* Oral Defense of final product in front of the Senior Thesis Committee* Must be research based* Written as a targeted journal article* Provide a final copy to faculty supervisor and a final copy to the department so we can keep it on file

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