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Undergraduate Research Initiative

The History Department’s Undergraduate Research Initiative

Research is the bedrock of all historical investigation and writing no matter what form it takes. Whether working in archives reading private letters, interviewing oral history informants, or viewing public records on the internet, historians spend much of their time examining records, photos, artifacts, and a world of other materials for material and data that will help them answer the questions they ask. Research is so important to what historians do that the History Department has created the Undergraduate Research Initiative to extend the research experience to advanced undergraduate students. Working closely with a Department faculty sponsor, participants in the Initiative’s program cover every aspect of the research experience from drafting a proposal, through conducting research, to analyzing the results and writing a project paper. This unique opportunity moves history out of the classroom and allows Initiative participants to explore topics that deeply interest them while learning what professional historians actually do. For those heading to graduate programs, participation in the Initiative will not only demonstrate their ability to carry through research projects, but their senior thesis will make an excellent writing sample to submit with their applications.

Interested? Here are the steps to follow:
  • Participating in the Undergraduate Research Initiative begins with a discussion between the student and their potential faculty sponsor about the proposed topic and the research resources available to bring the project to completion.

  • A 3.5 or above GPA in History courses is required.

  • Once the project is approved by the faculty sponsor, students will prepare a formal 200-250-word proposal that describes the research topic, where that research fits into current work in the topic field, an annotated list of archival and other resources to be used in the research, and a timeline for completion of the project and thesis.

  • Once the proposal is approved by the faculty sponsor, the sponsor will nominate the student and their project in a letter sent to the Initiative Committee.

  • Award decisions will be made by the History faculty.

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