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Research Experience

Research experience is very important for anyone considering graduate work in psychology. In many graduate programs, much of your time will be spent doing research. Admissions committees for such programs want to know that research is something you have already done, something you are good at, and also something you enjoy and want to continue. Remember, the people who decide which applicants to admit are the faculty members in the specific area to which you are applying. When they make admissions decisions, they are choosing people who will be not only their students, but also their research associates, for the next few years.

One plus of doing research as an undergraduate is that you can ask the faculty member for whom you work to write a letter of recommendation for you. A letter from someone who already views you as a valued member of his or her research team can be an important component of your application package.

Another plus of doing research as an undergraduate is that it lets you learn if this is something on which you would like to spend a lot of your time -- a good thing to find out before you choose a particular graduate school program! Some graduate psychology programs are less research-oriented than others. If you want to pursue graduate studies in psychology, but you would prefer not to spend a large proportion of your time on research, consider these options. Even for these programs, however, research experience as an undergraduate is likely to be an important credential. See the research opportunities section of our website to learn more about ways to get involved in research as an undergraduate psychology student.