Undergraduate Research

As a Hampden-Sydney student, you have the opportunity to work closely with professors on research projects that are inaccessible to students at larger universities. Hands-on research allows you to spend a significant part of your education outside the classroom working on problems of personal interest while developing skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and communication that are highly valuable to future employers.

In many cases, your first exposure to research comes with an in-class semester-long project. These classroom experiences let you practice the skills necessary to perform independent research, including locating literature related to your project, discerning reliable from unreliable sources, designing effective research questions, and evolving your research questions based on the data you collect and analyze. When you have gotten a taste of these skills and would like to gain additional independent experience, schedule an appointment with the faculty member who studies the topic closest to your interests to learn more about how to develop a project of your own. From this conversation, you can figure out what sort of work may be best for you and set some goals and benchmarks for a successful project.
In most cases, you can earn Directed Reading or Independent Study credit towards graduation for student research work. Many departments require a senior research project of their majors, and in many cases this work can be applied towards earning Department Distinction status at graduation. Consult your faculty mentor to find out which track may be most appropriate for you.

For a more immersive experience, the Honors Council sponsors 8-10 week summer research internships in which students work full-time on their project and live on campus with fellow research students. (Note that you do NOT need to be an Honors Scholar to apply for this program). Financial support is provided in the form of a modest stipend and housing expenses. Visit the Honors Council web page for more specific information on how to apply.
The College sponsors undergraduate presentation opportunities on campus each semester to showcase work being done over the summer and academic year. Since it is important for undergraduates to get the chance to present their work off-campus as well, the College supports student travel to regional and national conferences for presentation. Regional presentation opportunities include the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference on Undergraduate Scholarship (MARCUS) meeting held at Sweet Briar College each Fall and the Virginia Academy of Science meeting held each May. On a national level, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is held each April, and several academic professional societies hold meetings with undergraduate presentation sessions. The College also has several outlets available on campus for the publication of original work.
There are a wide variety of research opportunities for undergraduate research at Hampden-Sydney. You can work out a specifically-tailored research plan with your faculty mentor(s) based on your interests and future career goals.

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