Research Opportunities

From all accounts, getting into research is one of the more rewarding experiences students can have in college. Research can open doors - academic or career - that you hadn't imagined before. Delve into a topic and seek answers to questions of great interest to you. Establish an easy camaraderie with one of the faculty. Here's how...

Faculty-led Research

URAP

Apprentice with a faculty member in the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The URAP program provides opportunities for you to work with faculty on some cutting-edge research. Working closely with faculty, you can cultivate professional relationships, enhance your research skills, and deepen your knowledge and skills in areas of special interest. Applications are online. For a complete listing and description of research projects, check out the URAP website (external link) or stop by 5 Durant Hall.

GROUP

The Geballe Research Opportunities for Undergraduates Program (GROUP) pairs faculty members and undergraduates in summer research projects. Undergraduates awarded the apprenticeships receive $2500 for the summer. For program details, please go to the GROUP website (external link).

Independent Study and Research

Think about your own research, perhaps as an independent study. In such cases, a faculty mentor can help you stay focused and develop skills in asking and answering research questions. Independent study courses within the Political Science department are numbered 99 (lower division undergraduates) or 196/199 (upper division undergraduates). Courses vary from one to four units, depending on the extensiveness of the project, and are typically taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis. During the regular academic year, forms are due the Friday of the 3rd week of classes.

NOTE: Independent study courses, field study, P/NP courses, labs, simulations, and similar non-lecture courses do not fulfill requirements in the major. A maximum of two semesters of independent study or research may be taken by a student.

Please note that these courses require a significant level of departmental approval. Read on for important enrollment details.

Independent Study/Internship forms must be instructor-signed and returned to 296 Barrows no later than the deadlines given above. Forms are obtainable at the Undergraduate Advising Office, 296 Barrows.

PS 99 Independent Study

For lower-division students (59 or fewer units at the beginning of the relevant semester) who wish to work one-on-one with a member of the Political Science faculty on a research project.

Requirements: a minimum of 10 pages of written work for each unit of credit. Students must gauge the size of the paper they wish to write beforehand, discuss it with their faculty sponsor, and choose the number of units to enroll for accordingly. 1-4 units. Pass/Not Pass only.

Eligibility: PS 99 requires a cumulative gpa of 3.3, prior completion of at least two Political Sciences courses, and adequate background for the proposed study.

PS 199 Independent Study

For upper-division students (60 or more units completed at the beginning of the relevant semester) who wish to work one-on-one with a member of the Political Science faculty on a research project.

Requirements: a minimum of 10 pages of written work for each unit of credit. Students must gauge the size of the paper they wish to write beforehand, discuss it with their faculty sponsor, and choose the number of units to enroll for accordingly. 1- 4 units. Pass/Not Pass only.

Eligibility: PS 199 requires a cumulative gpa of 2.0 overall and in the major,and adequate background for the proposed study.

PS 196 Independent Study

For upper-division students (60 or more units completed at the beginning of the relevant semester) who wish to work one-on-one with a member of the Political Science faculty on a research project.

Requirements: a minimum of 10 pages of written work for each unit of credit. Students must gauge the size of the paper they wish to write beforehand, discuss it with their faculty sponsor, and choose the number of units to enroll for accordingly. 1 - 4 units. Letter-graded only.

Eligibility: PS 196 requires a cumulative gpa of 2.0 overall and in the major,and adequate background for the proposed study.

Limitations on PS 196: Students cannot sign up with the same faculty sponsor twice.

Enrollment Procedure

  • Obtain the Independent Study form at the Office of Undergraduate Advising, 296 Barrows.
  • Complete the form and obtain your faculty sponsor's signature.
  • Return the instructor-signed form to 296 Barrows no later than Friday at 4 pm during the 3rd week of classes (spring or fall semester) or Friday at 4 pm during the 1st week of summer classes (Summer sessions A and D).

Your Independent Study proposal will be submitted by the Undergraduate Office for departmental review. Once approved, you will be emailed a Course Control Number to enroll for the units.

Students should enroll in back-up units in case their applications are denied.

Failure to submit the form by the end of the 3rd week (or 1st week in summer) will result in the forfeiture of credit.


Honors Thesis Program

About 10- 15% of Political Science majors pursue an Honors Thesis. If you have a strong interest in a particular topic and would like the experience of researching and writing a long research paper, consider writing an Honors Thesis. Students who write an honors thesis enroll in a year-long seminar, PS H190A and B, and work independently with a faculty sponsor. Political Science majors who have 1) completed 90 units; 2) at least graded upper-division Political Science courses at UC Berkeley; 3) have an overall GPA of 3.3 and a minimum of 3.5 in the major are eligible to apply. For specifics, please refer to the Honors web site and consult with a Political Science undergraduate adviser.

Research and Writing Resources

These books are recommended by Dr. Terri Bimes, one of the coordinators of the Political Science Honors Program. Many of these books can be found at one of the campus libraries (external link).

  • Haas Scholars Undergraduate Research Guide
    http://research.berkeley.edu/haas_scholars/documents.html (external link)
  • Kate L. Turabian, Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Univ. of Chicago Press). 7th.
  • W. Phillips Shively, The Craft of Political Research (Prentice Hall)
  • Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Univ. of Chicago Press)
  • Gregory C. Scott and Stephen M. Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer's Manual (Prentice Hall)
  • Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science (Cornell University Press)
  • Janet Johnson, Richard Joslyn, and H.T. Reynolds, Political Science Research Methods (CQ Press)
  • Michael Corbett, Research Methods in Political Science (Thompson)
  • Stella Theodoulo and Rory O'Brien, eds., Methods for Political Inquiry (Prentice Hall)
  • John Creswall, Research Design (Sage)
  • James Carlson and Mark Hyde, Doing Empirical Political Research (Houghton Mofflin)

Indentifying Sources of Funding

Various units on campus offer or administer grants, scholarships, and awards for purposes ranging from: introductory and senior thesis research, study abroad and research related travel, community and university service projects, and merit based awards acknowledging outstanding scholarship. For more information about these funding opportunities, check out the listings below.

Publish Your Research

The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal

The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal (external link) is dedicated to publishing the academic work of undergraduates from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and related fields at the University of California, Berkeley. Essays are selected on the basis of academic content, general interest, and clarity of writing. Papers should be 15-60 pages long, on topics that would be of interest to the generally well-educated reader. For submission instructions, applications to the all-undergraduate Editorial Board, or further information, call (510) 643-5374 or email buj@learning.berkeley.edu.

For additional research opportunities, check out this summary (external link) of campus-wide research programs or visit the Office of Undergraduate Research (external link).