Western Carolina University has established itself as a national leader in undergraduate research working annually to support students in kick starting, sustaining, and disseminating research, scholarship, and creative activities from across all disciplines.
Undergraduate research and creative inquiry are defined as inquiry or investigation that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. Undergraduate students engaged in research and creative inquiry are making contributions in every department and college on Western's campus.
As undergraduates, students work closely with research and creative teams that are led by our faculty. These faculty are experts in their field and guide students through the research and creative inquiry process.
Participating in undergraduate research can prepare you for post-graduation plans by expanding your academic experience and giving you the opportunity to explore an academic discipline more fully. Undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity are defined as a High Impact Practice (HIP), which can bolster a students academic experience by engaging in the learning process deeply. Students who participate in HIPs like undergraduate research tend to have better academic outcomes and get hands-on experiential opportunities.
Explore our frequently asked questions below:
Want to learn more about becoming an undergraduate researcher? Not sure how to find a faculty member to work with on a research project? Nervous about contacting a faculty member about research? Confused about which programs you qualify for to support your research experience? Getting started can be overwhelming, but we are here to help!
For more guided support in getting started, make an appointment with the Coordinator for Undergraduate Research, Kloo Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org), to collaborate on how to get started.
Coordinator for Undergraduate Research
Hunter Library in the Coulter Faculty Commons, Room 172
For many professional schools and career positions, you will need letters of recommendation.
Most professional graduate programs and positions require at least three formal letters of recommendation. Job applications often also require references.
Conducting undergraduate research is a way to develop strong relationships with faculty members who can serve as references for you, and write you strong letters of recommendation.
Undergraduate research allows students to engage in unique experiences.
Students work as individuals or in small teams on research and creative projects, ranging in topic and depth. These experiences build strong skill and professional knowledge. Drawing from these experiences can help students stand out during interviews for graduate and professional school programs, as well as the job market.
Undergraduate research gives students a chance to be specific in their interviews about the learning they've engaged in while participating in research or creative projects.
Undergraduate research provides myriad opportunities to expand portfolios or academic resumes.
Undergraduate research students participate in opportunities that include things like presenting their work in a professional setting (both on and off campus), earning scholarships or fellowships, taking course credit, and defending theses and publishing their work.
All of these opportunities can be highlighted on a students’ resume and discussed in cover letters.