MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

Find Projects and Apply: How to Find a UROP

You may begin a UROP any time during your academic career. Even though the semester may have already started, a UROP can start as soon as arrangements (applications, funding, registration) are complete.

Although there are no universal starting dates, UROP projects are grouped into the following time periods: fall; fall/IAP; IAP; IAP/spring; spring and summer. UROP applications including your research proposal are due by the applicable UROP deadline for the term.

Here are some helpful tips and advice to assist you in your UROP search. If you have additional questions, please feel free to consult UROP staff for advice and support in finding a UROP that is right for you.

Step 1: Examine your interests and goals

Before you begin your search and start to contact faculty members, take a moment to examine your interests, needs and goals, so that you can communicate them effectively. Professors want to know that you have the time, energy, and commitment to become a productive member of their research groups.

Preliminary questions to consider:

Step 2: Locate available opportunities

NOTE: many faculty members do not rely advertisements to find students--they know that undergraduates will find them through subjects, Freshman Advising Seminars, Independent Activities Period (IAP) events, or by word of mouth.

Step 3: Do your homework and get prepared

You want to establish a rapport with professors, so show interest in, and knowledge of, their field. This means that you may need to do some homework in advance.

Step 4: The Approach

Every scientist was once a novice, so when searching for a UROP project and faculty mentor, don't be daunted the first time you knock on an office door. Most faculty are experienced UROP supervisors and will be interested in talking with you. They will want to know whether you have the time and energy to take on another intellectual endeavor.

Faculty often have busy schedules, so approaching a potential faculty mentor directly after a class may not be the best time to have an involved discussion about your research plans, but a quick chat can be a great way to find out if a given professor is enthusiastic about a possible collaboration. An after-class chat may also present an opportunity to plan a future meeting to discuss UROP options in more detail.

Office hours vary for each faculty member, so it's a good idea to book an appointment, in advance. If you are simply dropping by a faculty member's office in person, try to do so during posted office hours.

Email can be another great way to make initial connections with potential mentors. Here are some tips for an email approach.

Step 5: The UROP Meeting/Interview

If you did your homework, you approach potential mentors well-prepared, so feel confident in your ability to express your goals and interests.

Prepare an introduction to help you begin the discussion:

Ask questions about expectations to help you determine if the project is right for you:

Step 6: Wrap-up

Before committing to a UROP project, be sure to ask yourself: Would you be happy working on this type of project with this group?

Research collaborations should be pleasant educational experiences. If a given research project, research responsibilities, or dynamic of a certain lab group doesn't feel like a good fit for you and your interests, then continue your search until you find a project that you will enjoy and a group with whom you feel very comfortable collaborating.

If you have any questions or need additional advice along the way, UROP staff members are available to assist you. We are located in Room 7-104, and can be reached in at urop@mit.edu or 617-253-7306.

Access the MIT Student UROP Online Proposal System Homepage

Check the list of upcoming UROP events to learn how to get involved!