Undergraduate Research

Three graduate students smiling in a laboratory

Gain Experience and Earn Units

Research experience looks great on your transcripts and on your resume. Most employers and graduate programs in chemistry strongly recommend, if not require, some independent research. Undergraduate research can also offer insights into career possibilities by giving you an idea of what research fields interest you.

Undergraduate research is an independent study option that offers students the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art scientific investigations under the supervision of a faculty member. 199 and 194H units can also be used towards your chemistry major requirements.

CHE 199 - "Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates"
...involves supervised independent research requiring an adequate background in the proposed subject as well as upper division standing; 84 total units or more. (Transfer and AP units are included).
CHE 194H A/B/C - "Undergraduate Honors Research"
...is a study program for honors students within the chemistry major. Projects tend to be more independent and challenging. To qualify for the 194H series, students must have a minimum GPA of around 3.5 as well as prior completion of 135 units. Click here to learn more about our Chemistry Honors Program.
CHE 99 - "Special Study for Undergraduates"
...research for students of lower division standing; fewer than 84 units.

Take Initiative

You should first assess the areas of chemistry that most interest you by drawing from your own coursework and talking to your TAs and other graduate and undergraduate students involved in research. You can then compare your interests with the research being carried out by individual faculty, as described on their profiles and group pages. We recommended you begin your search at least one quarter before you wish to enter the lab. Most chemistry students begin undergraduate research in their sophomore or junior year.

After you have identified a few faculty members whose research interests you, send them an email to explore the opportunity of conducting research in their lab. It is best to include a copy of your CV and let them know specifically why are you interested in their research, the courses you have taken, etc. Faculty often prefer undergraduates to have completed relevant courses in the area of the research, but this is not always required. It is also generally recommended that students commit to several quarters of research with the same faculty member, as there is often a significant learning curve before productive research can be obtained.

If a faculty member accepts you into their lab, the two of you will need to discuss and document expectations and the assignment for each quarter.

Please download, fill out, and follow the instructions in the PDF below for documentation and course credit/registration.

Variable Unit Course Request Form