FAQs for Current Amherst Students

What is research? Why should I consider doing it?

Research involves collecting, organizing, and analyzing information in a way that increases understanding of a topic or issue. Whether launching into new directions or building on what is already known, doing research will  provide you with opportunities to explore your academic interests, while working closely with an academic mentor.

Is there money available to support me if I want to do research with a faculty member?

Yes! This past year, more than $1,140,985.00 was distributed to students to support their research with a faculty member.

I don’t have a project, but I’d be interested in doing research with a professor. What should I do?

If you are in a STEM field, you should approach your professors about the possibility of joining one of their projects. In the summer of 2020, 77 first- and second-year students engaged in science research with faculty and another 18 rising sophomores from underrepresented backgrounds got a 6-week in-depth introduction to STEM research by working with 14 faculty and staff members in the STEM Incubator Program. The program is designed to provide students with the tools necessary to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

If you are in the humanities or social sciences, ask your professors about the possibility of doing a project with them. This summer, 23 students will engage in a research project with a faculty member as a Schupf Fellow.

If you don't know which professor to approach, discuss your idea with your faculty advisor.

I am interested in doing research with my professor. What is the likelihood that I will be selected for funding?

Some programs are very competitive, but others just require some initiative on your part. In the summer of 2020, every senior who was working on a thesis project who applied for summer funding received a grant, and every sophomore who had participated in a research tutorial was offered funding to continue the work during the summer. For the summer of 2021, the Schupf Fellows Program was able to fund every student who applied. Last summer, 73 first- and second-year students received stipends for science research, and 77 seniors received stipends to support work on their thesis projects across all fields.

I’m a first-year student. Do I have to wait until my senior year to do research with a faculty member?

No! First-year students can become academic interns, assisting their professors during the school year, and during the summer, they are eligible to apply for funding in any field of interest, whether it’s the arts, humanities, science, or social sciences. 

I’m a sophomore. What opportunities are there for me to do research with a faculty member?

Sophomores can become academic interns, assisting their professors during the school year, or apply for funds in any discipline for a summer project. Sophomores are also eligible to take research tutorials, in which they learn to frame a research question in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, develop research strategies, identify and use sources. Students who take a research tutorial are guaranteed funds to continue the research over the summer.

As a junior, are there opportunities for me to do research with a faculty member?

Juniors are eligible to apply for funding for senior honors research during the summer between their junior and senior year. In 2020, 77 seniors in 29 fields received funding to begin their thesis research over the summer.

What if my thesis work requires supplies or travel? Is there funding available?

Seniors are eligible for thesis-related travel and supplies, as well as funding for travel to a conference to present research results.

I am an international student. Am I eligible for funding to do research in my home country?

International students returning to their home country are eligible to apply for funding to cover travel expenses if they are doing senior thesis research. If you are not doing senior thesis research, you are not eligible for funding to cover travel expenses back to your home country.

Where do I live if I am doing research in the summer?

Your college research grant will include on-campus housing and a meal plan at Valentine.

Can I get funding for international research?

Yes! You can apply for a grant through the Varmus International Fellows program to pursue independent scholarly work. As a Varmus Fellow, you can conduct research outside of the United States for a period of three to six months.

If my research is going well and I want to publish it, can I continue it after graduation?

Yes! A few graduates each year receive Post-Baccalaureate Fellowships which provide a stipend and living expenses so they can stay on campus over the summer after graduating and turn their senior honors theses into publishable papers under the supervision of their thesis advisor.

The Incubator Program: Hatching the STEM Scientists of the Future

A lab in the Amherst College Science Center

Amherst News Story

The STEM Incubator initiative aims to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds with the tools to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Read the Story