How to Get Involved in Graduate School Research

When considering embarking on a graduate education, one of the key points to consider when selecting a program or an institution should be research. Most students may wonder why research is such an important aspect of a graduate education. Why should students be concerned with such topics? Isn't that reserved for students considering specific fields, such as health care or engineering?

As a potential graduate student, research is a vital portion of the graduate education experience. This is how exposure to a specific career path is gained and the ability to apply knowledge gained in the classroom setting can be applied to the real world. Research is not limited; the need for research across disciplines is necessary to new discoveries that can improve our world. This is exemplified in an area like educational research, which allows prospective teachers to craft new curriculums that could potentially deepen the understanding of how autistic students learn. Psychological research allows for a continuous understanding of psychological conditions, highlighting awareness and improving treatment plans. Research in a chosen career path is important to allow students to make real and consistent change in the world at large.

Research affords students the unique opportunity to begin a career with a deep, meaningful, and realistic understanding of the profession.

There are several ways to involve yourself in research as a graduate student. In order to get there, below are the first steps to help you find an institution with research that will underscore your professional aspirations:

  • Review the website of the university. Find what research the institution has done and is currently doing. This demonstrates the relevance of research to the institution as a whole. If this information is not able to be found, the university may place focus on other values that do not best fit professional goals.
  • Evaluate the research being done in your specific area of interest at the university. This area of interest may be a field that you were briefly exposed to during your undergraduate career. It could also be an entirely new area that you find enthralling that will meet your personal professional goals.
  • Find an overview of the research current faculty members are conducting. This is the best way to find the exact subject matters faculty are focusing on and, potentially, match you with a specific professor who will expand your knowledge.
  • Indicate your interest in research when submitting your application materials. This is best done in your personal essay, where you will need to be specific about the type of research you wish to do and how this will benefit you throughout your career.

While not all professions require that individuals enter the field with research experience, it is incredibly important for students to have research exposure as it allows students to understand the challenges and successes of their career. Research affords students the unique opportunity to begin a career with a deep, meaningful, and realistic understanding of the profession. Be sure to be aware of all research opportunities now and beyond the classroom.