books on shelf

IS majors and minors are encouraged to seek out opportunities to conduct research with faculty members and on your own. This can take many forms, from working as a professor's (or a center's) research assistant to writing independent reseach papers or a senior thesis.

The best and most personalized information about research opportunities will come from conversations you have with your academic advisor, the IS Peer Advisors, and professors of classes you've enjoyed. But on this page we offer a few additional suggestions about locating research opportunities and funding sources.

Assisting faculty with their research

For many years the Morrissey College has invested heavily in funding for undergraduate reserach opportunities, and as a result, our faculty have access to several funding sources to hire students to assist with their research projects.

Undergraduate Research Fellowship program

Designed to cultivate undergraduates' research skills and foster mentor relationships between undergraduates and faculty, the program allows faculty to hire individual student research assistants. Faculty (not students) apply for the funding, which can support between 20 and to 200 hours per semester, and up to 400 hours for the summer. The work will vary according to the professor and project, of course, but may include library reseach, data analysis, editing/proofing, fact-checking, summarizing literature, etc.  

  • Deadlines: Academic year URF requests should be made between July and mid-August; funding decisions are announced at the end of August.  Summer URF proposals are accepted from March to mid-April; funding decisions are made before the end of April. 

  • Eligibility: sophomores and upperclassmen with strong academic records. 

  • What to do: Reach out to individual faculty members whose work you are interested in, and ask if they could use your assistance as a URF.  Make sure they know about the application deadlines.

Ongoing faculty research projects 

Some faculty have ongoing research projects that employ more than one undergraduate researach assistant at at time. 

  • One well-known project at BC is Prof. Peter Krause's Political Violence Project, started in 2013.

  • Prof. Erik Owens is sometimes able to hire undergraduates as part of his Global Citizenship Project, started in 2018, or the Global Engagement Portal, launched in 2017, though these are not strictly research progams -- they mix research with events/programs.

  • More to come... [Faculty please email Erik Owens to post additional projects here.]



Conducting independent research

As you develop your research skills in your courses and as a research assistant, you may find that you are intrigued by the opportunity to conducting your own research projects outside of the typical class structures. Here are a few ideas about how that can happen. 

Independent Study courses

When you are eager to study a particular topic or problem that is not covered with existing courses, or you are keen to work closely with a particular faculty member, on occasion that faculty member may be able to offer a "Reading and Research" course for a student or small group of students. This is a substantial extra time commitment for faculty members, so it is not a common opportuntiy for undergraduates. But it could be worth asking a facult member if they would be willing to do this with you. 

  • Deadlines: A semester in advance, ideally.  

  • Eligibility: Upperclassmen with very strong academic records. 

  • What to expect: Weekly or bi-weekly meetings at which you present reflections on a book or articles you've read; conversation with the professor about those texts and others; a substantial research paper at the conclusion of the semester.

  • What to do: Reach out to individual faculty members whose work you are interested in, and ask if they would consider an independent study course.

Advanced Study Grants 

ASGs are the premier source for undergradutes seeking funding to travel in order to conduct research.  They are awarded for summer research or projects that promise to accelerate dramatically the applicant's academic progress. Proposed projects must be independent, student-designed projects.

  • Eligibility: Students must be nominated by a faculty member before proposing  students nominated by faculty can receive an ASG, to be used in the summer after sophomore or junior years. The IS Program nominates all of our majors to be eligible to receive ASGs!  

  • What to do: Upon recieving notice of your nomination, students must write a research proposal, draft a budget, and submit to the ASG program, using instructions in your nomination email. If you have questions, contact the ASG coordinator, Prof. Alice Behnegar
  • Recent examples:  [Examples to come.]


Other funding for independent research projects 

The BC Fellowships Office has a great list of programs that fund travel, study, and research. Here's a list of funding sources that focus on research:   

  • Thesis Research Grants
    [for Seniors; Apply here]
    Thesis Research Grants are offered to seniors undertaking a thesis or Scholar of the College project to cover research expenses related to the completion of the project. These grants may be used, for instance, to visit archives, gather additional relevant data, conduct interviews, etc.  

  • Clough Center Travel Grants
    [for grad/undergrad students; apply on rolling basis]
    To support travel for attendance to conferences or research trips related to the mission of the Center

  • Mizna Fellowship
    [all undergrads; application info here; contact Ms. Christina Hatzipetros for more]
    Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to Boston College students including freshmen, for whom travel may be an introduction to the world of Islamic scholarship and to seniors who seek to expand their understandings of Islamic cultures, history, language and societies in order to author a distinguished senior thesis.

  • Aggad Travel & Research Fellowship
    [All undergrads; info here; contact Prof. Kathy Bailey for more]
    The Omar A. Aggad Travel and Research Fellowship was established through the generous gift of a Boston College family to inspire BC graduate and undergraduate students to expand their understandings of the Arab world, and of the relationships between Arab societies and the West. 

  • Center for Human Rights and International Justice Summer Research Grants
    [Freshmen, sophomores, juniors; info here; contact Assistant Director Timothy Karcz for more]
    Support BC students from various disciplines who are interested in pursuing research in the field of human rights and international justice. The Center aims to nurture a new generation of human rights scholars and practitioners, and to foster innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship about human rights work.

  • Amanda Houston Traveling Fellowship
    [sophomores, juniors; info here; contact AADS assistant Director Richard Paul for more]
    Provides up to $30,00 toward domestic or international travel for either an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member or a research aaper attached to an approved course in a BC recognized study abroad program. Projects must significantly focus on African or African Diaspora communities.

  • Conference Travel Grants
    [all undergrads; apply here; contact Prof. Jason Cavallari for more]
    Provides funds to help defray the costs for undergraduates to present original research at academic conferences.  Can provide up to 50% of anticipated expenses. 


Senior Thesis 

A senior thesis is an extended research project on a topic of the student's choosing, completed under the guidance of a faculty member over the course of an entire academic year. Writing a thesis is a strenuous and rewarding exercise that offers students an opportunity to acheive expertise on a topic, produce a publishable-quality research project, and work closely with an faculty advisor. 

See our extensive Senior Thesis page for details. 

Presenting or publishing your independent research

  • The Advancing Research and Scholarship Day annually spotlights student research through presentations spanning disciplines. Prof. Erickson is one of the faculty directos of this program. 

  • There are a number of undergraduate research journals that publish independent projects: 
  • Open Access Publishing Fund
    [all students; apply on rolling basis]
    Pays article processing fees for accepted authors who wish to publish in open access, peer-reviewed journals