Frequently Asked Questions

1. What exactly is the undergraduate research program in criminal justice?

The program is comprised of three separate components: (1) 100 hours of service as a research assistant for a professor or advanced doctoral student -- these hours can be completed any time during the academic year; (2) Enrollment in the Advanced Field Placement in Criminal Justice course, offered in spring each year -- class times will take place during fall and spring semesters; and (3) Completion of an independent project that will be presented at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference on campus.

2. Who can participate?

Technically, any enrolled undergraduate is eligible for this program, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. However, preference will be given to students with junior and senior standing.

3. What are the eligibility requirements?

You must have a 3.3 GPA or higher to be eligible for this program. Additionally, strong preference is given to students who have plans to attend graduate school or law school. (The traditional Field Placement is strongly recommended for those wishing to work in the criminal justice field as a practitioner upon graduation.)

4. Am I guaranteed acceptance if I apply? 

No. Unfortunately, all applicants are not automatically accepted into the program. Since all students must have a research supervisor, there are only enough slots in the program/course as there are available undergraduate research assistant positions for that year.

Morgan, a Criminal Justice undergraduate research student

5. What are the program expectations?

Students are expected to complete 100 hours of service as a research assistant, develop their own independent project from the larger project on which they are assisting, participate in all scheduled class meetings, turn in course assignments, and present their independent project at the annual undergraduate research conference.

6. What kinds of things will I be doing as a research assistant? 

This depends on your skill set and the needs of your research supervisor. As an undergraduate, you may be working on/assisting with data coding and data entry, literature reviews, participant recruitment, data analysis, or any number of other related miscellaneous research tasks. Typically, as your skill set develops and your performance improves, your research advisor may give you more responsibilities.

7. What topics will be covered in the course?

There are two primary goals of the course (e.g., class time and assignments). First, the course will provide you with some very basic training in skills you will need to be successful in your research placements. Second, the course focuses on helping enhance your professional development. Specifically, it helps facilitate the development of a usable resume, curriculum vitae, and personal statement for graduate/law school applications. It also focuses on training students in critical thinking, evaluating others’ scientific work, and effectively presenting research.

8. How am I placed with a research supervisor? 

Whenever possible, the program advisor tries to match you with a research supervisor who has similar interests to yours, whether in content or methodology.

9. How do I develop my independent project and how do I go about conducting it?

You are encouraged to work with your direct research supervisor to develop your independent project. Your supervisor will have a good sense of the many possibilities (and limitations) of his or her data. Together, you will identify 2-3 key research questions that will be the focus of your independent project; these questions will be sub-aims, in a sense, of the larger project on which you will be working (i.e., it is strongly recommended that you do not develop your own project, as this can be incredibly time consuming). You will work with your research supervisor to analyze the data and draft your presentation for the conference. Course time will also be devoted to giving you feedback and preparing you for the undergraduate conference.

10. Does this course count as my required Field Placement? 

It does. However, you are still allowed to do the traditional field placement. One of these courses will count as your required filed placement, and the other will count as an elective.