Five Things Every Student Should Know about CS Research
(whether or not you’re thinking about pursuing research)

Whether you are an undergraduate wondering what CS research is or a student ready to publish research results, this page has information and links for you!

The resources cover everything from what CS research is to how to succeed at it, where and how to get recognition for your work, and where to find advice on applying to research-oriented graduate schools.

What is research and why should I pursue it?

Research allows you to pursue existing new interests and apply what you have learned. It has the potential to discover something new and advance existing knowledge.  Research will challenge you in new ways and can help you decide what career you want to pursue.

How do I get involved in research?

The first step should be finding out what exists on resources and opportunities in your department and your institution.  Do the research on how to get involved in research! If your department does not have a well-defined process, talk to faculty who were or are your instructors.  Asking a faculty who does not know you to be your research adviser is generally not the most effective step. Some faculty may post research opportunities and expectations (e.g., Phil Guo’s post).

Here are links to pages on undergraduate research from selected departments and institutions providing good descriptions and general advice for undergraduates interested in research.

Finding a good research adviser is a first step.  Many resources focus on finding a PhD adviser which is different from finding an adviser for undergraduate research. The institutional websites listed above provide advice on how to find an undergraduate research adviser.

There exist a number of national programs offering research opportunities.  Most are summer programs. All have an application process (with a deadline) and require letters of recommendation.  Stipends a student receives can vary. Opportunities include

For more opportunities at specific institutions or agencies see also CRA-E’s Conquer site.

How does one become a successful researcher?

The path from finding a research adviser and a research topic to publishing research results is often unpredictable. It will be challenging, full of opportunities and obstacles, exciting, and provide you with new opportunities and experiences. Crucial components of  a successful research experience are highlighted below.

ACM Code of Ethics, for all computing professionals

How does one get recognition for undergraduate research?

A number of professional organizations have research award competitions (typically the research adviser makes the nomination) and conferences often provide opportunities for recognizing student research.  Don’t forget to check out research award opportunities in your own department and institution.

What are successful strategies for getting admitted to graduate school? Can I get financial support?

Graduate school offers Masters and PhD degrees. PhD’s are always research focused and students are expected to generate new research results. While Masters programs can include research, many are course-based and may center on a particular domain  (e.g., security, data science, AI).

When you apply for admission to graduate school for a PhD, you will be considered for a graduate assistantship as well. Assistantships will provide a monthly stipend that is sufficient to cover your living expenses and will include a waiver of tuition and fees. Financial support opportunities for Masters students vary. For more information see the Conquer website.

Applying to Graduate School

Application processes for PhD and MS applicant can vary. We describe the common application components. Visit the Conquer website for more information.

Fellowships

Fellowships can provide funding for graduate school without requiring a graduate assistantship. Individual graduate programs may offer fellowships to some admitted students, but in addition, some fellowships are offered by organizations independent of particular graduate programs. Here are links to some of those fellowships:

Advice and insights (primarily for PhD applicants)