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Research Assistantships

There’s no better way to activate your learning from research courses than to engage in actual research projects with one of our outstanding CAS faculty. In both Rhetoric and the Social Sciences, the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences is a hive of exciting research activity.

The benefits of being an undergraduate Research Assistant are many! You’ll learn about the subject you’re researching, about the research methodology being used, and about professional skills such as building relationships, participating in meetings, professional communication, and time management.  Tasks may include using the library to look for articles and books related to the topics, writing summaries of past research, coding data or article, preparing surveys, and preparing data for analysis. In addition to course credit, your work will have gained you a relationship with a faculty member, and enhanced skills that will help you prepare for work or graduate school.

The best way to get started is to have a conversation with a faculty member whose class you enjoyed. Another approach is to read about our faculty to see which of them might be doing something you find fascinating, followed by a meeting to see if there might be a role for you! If you’d like help getting started, you can also contact your adviser or Lori Bedell for a conversation about your interests.

Penn State's Office of Undergraduate Education also provides information about Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Expectations For Undergraduate RAs include:

  1. Prospective RAs must complete the Research Assistantship Agreement Form and, upon approval, enroll in CAS 294 or 494 for 1-3 credits; the number of credit hours is dependent upon the work and time commitment agreed upon with faculty member (one credit hour is equivalent to 40 hours of work over the course of a semester).
  2. No more than three credits of either 294 or 494 can be counted toward the CAS major.
  3. Complete assigned duties in a responsible and timely fashion.
  4. Maintain and submit activity log detailing work and hours completed each week.