Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Independent study and research provides an opportunity for students to work one-on-one with a faculty member through directed reading or supervised research. Normally independent study is reserved for students at an advanced level within their majors. Students should consult with their respective major or departmental advisors about requirements and limits for independent study, which vary from department to department.

Independent Study

Students are advised to approach faculty members about independent study as early as possible, since many instructors limit the number of students they will supervise in a given semester or year. Some departments require that the Director of Undergraduate Studies approve the independent study. As part of the proposal and approval process, students must specify, in consultation with the faculty supervisor, the number of points to be earned for the independent study. Students must designate the number of points to be earned when registering for independent study.

Students may count no more than 12 points of independent study toward the degree, and may register for no more than one independent study per term. If a student wishes to undertake an independent study program involving more points than the number permitted, he or she must have the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the GS Committee on Academic Affairs.

Research

Research allows students to build relationships with faculty; explore areas of interest; prepare for a senior thesis or graduate school; gain new knowledge in a topic of interest; and engage in exciting projects during the summer and/or academic year. 

Opportunities exist for all undergraduates, so it is never too early to explore your options! Visit Columbia's Undergraduate and Fellowships website to search for opportunities.

Funding for Individual Academic Resesarch

The GS Office of Academic Affairs may provide a one-time stipend of up to $250 to students partaking in academic endeavors that are often not covered by traditional financial aid. These opportunities may include academic conferences, unique research opportunities, and visits to museums and other cultural institutions of interest and relevance.

In order to apply for funding, students are requested to submit the following documentation:

  1. Completed Funding for Individual Academic Research Application.

  2. Supplementary statement: Students must provide a supplementary statement explaining the nature of the event or initiative, and how their participation or attendance will enhance their undergraduate experience. Statements should not exceed one page in length.

  3. Event/initiative-related documentation: Invoices, receipts, flyers, proof of payment, and brochures that provide the cost of participation and logistical details (date and location of the event, etc.).

Completed applications and supplementary documentation may be submitted electronically to gsacademicaffairs@columbia.edu; alternatively, hard copies may be submitted to 612 Lewisohn Hall. Students will receive a confirmation email from the Office of Academic Affairs upon approval of their applications. Questions regarding eligibility or the funding process may be directed to gsacademicaffairs@columbia.edu.

Senior Thesis Stipend

GS offers a small stipend ($250) to defray associated expenses for GS seniors working on a senior thesis or honors project.

Visit the GS website to apply for funding and view application deadlines.

Independent Research: Human Subjects

Any research that involves people is considered human subjects research in a broad sense. Students who are interested in conducting independent research that will involve participants answering questions, completing surveys, filling out forms, following instructions, and/or being observed, or that involves receiving data about identifiable individuals, may need special approval.

All universities have an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which reviews research proposals involving humans and assesses whether or not the research can be approved. The approval is dependent upon the risk of harm to the research subjects.

This risk of harm can be physical, psychological, legal, or social and it is the role of the Columbia IRB to protect those who have voluntarily donated their time (even if they are compensated) in order to take part in any research that is conducted by a member of Columbia University.

Taking seriously the well-being of research participants is part of what makes a good researcher and a good research project. 

Questions should be addressed to the faculty advisor overseeing the research or to Victoria Rosner, Dean of Academic Affairs, at vpr4@columbia.edu.

Requesting IRB Approval

Students submitting proposed research for approval by the Institutional Review Board must:

Contact

Questions should be addressed to the faculty advisor overseeing the research or to Victoria Rosner, Dean of Academic Affairs, at vpr4@columbia.edu.