Undergraduate Research


The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Undergraduate Research program offers UNC undergraduates the opportunity to work side-by-side with graduate students and faculty members on cutting-edge psychological research. Conducting hands-on research helps students develop a deeper understanding of psychological research methods and to prepare for graduate school.

The deadline to apply for PSYC 395 is Thursday, January 11, 2018 by 5:00 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions – Students


When am I eligible?

You can participate in undergraduate research as a volunteer at any point in your undergraduate career. You simply need to find a willing mentor.

You can participate in undergraduate research for PSYC 395 course credit if you

  • Find a willing mentor
  • Complete PSYC 101
  • Complete two additional PSYC courses
    • One must be at the 200-level or above
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher

Please note that you may also participate in the Honors Program in Psychology, if eligible, for additional research opportunities and benefits.


How do I find a research mentor?

Expect your search for a research position in a faculty laboratory to be a very time-consuming process. Make sure to start your search 2 to 3 months before the start of the target semester. You can find a mentor by:

  • Searching the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research’s Database of Research Opportunities
  • Identifying mentors in the Department:
  • Identifying faculty mentors outside the Department
    • Faculty members in other departments may only be a PSYC 395 mentor if they conduct psychological research and they collaborate with a faculty member within the Department.
  • Checking bulletin boards and reviewing fliers in Davie Hall

Once you have identified a potential mentor, send them a professional email containing your resume, available hours, relevant skills and experience, and a short written essay about why you would like to work in their lab. We recommend you contact several potential mentors to increase your chances of finding a research opportunity.


What are the requirements for PSYC 395?

Requirements are based on a 3-credit course and include:

  • Identifying a faculty mentor
  • Lab work within the faculty mentor’s lab
    • Approximately 9 hours per week in the Fall or Spring
  • At least 10 pages of scholarly work
  • At least four meetings per semester with your faculty advisor
  • Weekly meetings with direct supervisor

How do I apply for PSYC 395 credit?

Psychology and Neuroscience will be piloting a new electronic system for PSYC 395 applications for Spring 2018. You will find the new electronic system for PSYC 395 applications online.

Please note that this means we will not accept hard copies of the application for Spring 2018.

Here are the steps to complete the application:

1. Student submits a new contract and a syllabus. The syllabus should include course requirements, basis for assessment, a statement that the student will work 9 hours per week, and a statement that the student will write up to 10 pages of scholarly work.
2. The mentor receives an email with a link to the OLCM system, with options to aprove, send back to student, or reject. New supervisors should also submit the Supervisor Orientation Form.
3. If approved by the mentor, the department coordinator receives an email with a link to OLCM, with options to approve, send back to student or instructor, or reject.
4. If approved by the coordinator, the scheduling officer receives an email with a link to OLCM.
5. After the scheduling officer schedules the section and enrolls the student in ConnectCarolina, OLCM will move the submission to completed and upload all materials to the Online Syllabus Manager.

Please note the department deadline is Thursday, January 11, 2018 by 5:00 PM. Late applications are not accepted. Please note that students are only able to enroll in and receive credit for a maximum 6 hours of PSYC 395.


How do I share my research?

Participating in research with a faculty member is a great start, but you can share your research and explore more avenues to prepare yourself for a career in psychology:

  • Complete a Senior Honors Thesis
  • Find a conference to present a poster of your research
    • Find opportunities via the Office of Undergraduate Research. Some include the Carolina Research Scholar Program, the Celebration of Undergraduate Research, the Atlantic Coast Conference Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.
  • Publish your research in a journal
  • Seek funding for your research
    • Visit the Carolina Internal Funding Database. Some opportunities include the OUR Undergraduate Travel Grant (up to $500), CV Starr Scholarships (up to $3125), Travel Fellowships (up to $4000), and the Burch Fellows Program (up to $6000).

Ask your mentor how to find these opportunities, check out the Office of Undergraduate Research, or search undergraduate funding opportunities through the OUR Database or the Carolina Internal Funding Database.

Frequently Asked Questions – Faculty


Am I eligible to be a mentor?

Faculty who have tenure or are tenure-track are eligible to be independent PSYC 395 mentors. On the application, faculty in this position can be both a faculty sponsor and direct supervisor.

Faculty who do not have tenure or graduate students who wish to serve as a PSYC 395 mentor must find a faculty sponsor (i.e. a tenure or tenure-track faculty member). Faculty in this position may eventually be eligible to serve as their own faculty sponsors, once they have mentored seven or more students, consistently followed PSYC 395 policies, and the research involved is relevant.

Please note if you are a new supervisor, or have not served as an Instructor of Record for two consecutive semesters, you must fill out the Supervisor Orientation Form.


How do I advertise for a position?

Here are a few ways to advertise:

Many faculty advertise in the middle of the semester for a student to work in the upcoming semester.


Are there any recommendations for new supervisors?

If you are a new supervisor, you must submit the Supervisor Orientation Form.

We recommend:

  • You carefully screen and interview applicants for your position.
  • Students should work in the lab for longer periods of time (i.e. come in once a week for three hours, rather than three times a week for an hour). This allows students more time to re-orient.
  • Give weekly detailed instructions to the student. Plan ahead of time what you want the student to get out of the experience. The sooner the student understands the background and process, the sooner they feel a part of the project.
  • Monitor student activities weekly.
  • Incorporate a variety of laboratory activities.
  • Make PSYC 395 a rewarding experience. Incorporate students into the lab – allow ownership of a project!

How many students may I mentor a semester?

A faculty member may supervise up to five students per semester.

What is needed at the end of the semester?

  • Students should have final papers completed and turned in by the last day of classes. Students should also upload a copy of the final paper in Sakai.
  • Grades must be submitted in ConnectCarolina within 72 hours of the last scheduled final exam.

Contact Information


Dr. Marsha Penner
Director of Undergraduate Research
237 Davie Hall
(919) 962-4942
mpenner@email.unc.edu

Molly Corrigan
Instructional Programs Coordinator
333 Davie Hall
(919) 962-4977
mcorrig@live.unc.edu