A Student’s Perspective: The Top 5 Benefits of Undergrad Research

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As an undergraduate student, starting research seemed like an intimidating, daunting process. One of my main concerns was I didn’t know if it would benefit me and my future goals. But the more searching I did on research, I realized how interesting it was and all of the benefits it had for students. While there are many benefits to participating in a research experience, these are some of the main ones that I found the most useful as an undergraduate college student.

Explore Career Opportunities

In my college journey, I have thought about a few different majors and even more careers. In my freshman year as a psychology student, I thought you had to pursue a PhD to do “real” psychology work. However, that is far from the truth and research has taught me that! Depending on your major, research can give you hands-on experience that you can use in your industry. Research showed me that I can get a unique experience without needing a graduate degree, and then I can take that experience and apply for positions in the mental health field at a bachelor’s degree level.

Research for me not only taught me what I can do with my degree, but it allowed me to explore the options within the degree. Did I want to work on the “science” side of psychology and look at brain scans, follow the aging of the brain, and understand what changes over time? Or did I want with the mental health side of psychology and see how different people/communities are affected by mental health concerns? Participating in research helped me decide what I wanted to follow.

Build Skills

Research experience is similar to an internship or job; you use a variety of skills that you can take to your future career. Depending on your major, you can build technical skills like programming, industry terminology, knowledge in systems, etc. You can also build your knowledge in transferable skills like communication, leadership, time-management, data analysis, goal-orientation, public speaking, and the list goes on! Even if you’re not familiar with specific technical skills needed for a research opportunity, a research experience can be your introduction to using those technical skills and gaining real-life applications of them. These skills can only benefit you as they showcase what you can bring to a position while you’re in college or after graduation.

Become a Strong Candidate for Grad School

If you are looking at graduate school, you will more than likely be conducting research in one shape or form. Research is a large part of graduate school life, so getting a head start by conducting research as an undergraduate student can help you stand out during the application process! It shows that you are familiar working research setting within a specific major/industry and that you are familiar with equipment, skills, etc. that you may use as a graduate researcher.
Furthermore, the University of Arizona 2020-2021 Graduating Senior Survey Report shows that students who conducted research with a faculty member are 1.8 times more likely to report continuing their education than students who have not participated in research with faculty. This shows that students who participated in research are applying and have a higher chance of getting accepted into grad school. Research is a unique experience to have whether you are applying to grad school or not. If Grad school is on your radar, you will want to think about this opportunity and how it can help you!


Networking is one of the best benefits I have gotten from my research experiences! Networking has allowed me to learn from my research supervisor and other undergraduate students on topics like Grad school and career options. As I said, I thought I couldn’t get “real” psychology experience without a PhD, but my research supervisor has shared available options and lent ideas on how to stand out when applying. These are all things I wouldn’t have learned without my experience in research. Additionally, getting letters of recommendations is another aspect to think about, especially if you’re applying to grad school. Letters of recommendations from faculty showcase how you have made an impact academically. Submitting a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who can speak to your research skills, would be a great addition to your application!

Enhance Your Resume

Whether or not you’re applying to Grad school, having a great resume is a necessity for every industry. In competitive fields, you want to stand out. And how can you stand out from other applicants? One word: research. No matter what industry you’re in, research experience shows how you can use your technical and transferable skills in a team and/or individual setting. Not everyone has research experience, so when an employer spots that on a resume, they may just want to stop to read more about you.

By Sarah Randolph
Sarah Randolph