Whether you are a freshman at Penn, or much further along, Penn and Wharton have a number of research opportunities you should know about. You can become involved in research at Penn as a research assistant for a professor or independently pursue your own questions.
Note for summer opportunities: Deadlines may be the preceding February or earlier.
CURF helps Penn undergraduates pursue independent research through personal Research Consultations and administration of competitive research grants. The best place to start is CURF’s Research Directory, where Penn faculty and researchers have posted research projects in which undergraduates may participate. Summer research funding is available here.
PURM provides students completing their first or second undergraduate year the opportunity to spend a summer as a research assistant for a Penn faculty member.
Wharton Research Scholars is an intensive one-year research program for a select group of students who are interested in conducting research under the supervision of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members. Students apply to work on a specific project proposed by a Wharton faculty member or submit their own project proposal with a faculty sponsor. Approximately 14 students, typically seniors, are selected to be research scholars each year.
Wharton SPUR is a unique program that provides a select group of up to 10 highly motivated students an opportunity to design and perform in-depth research over a 10-week period in the summer under the guidance of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members.
Independent study allows students to pursue academic interests not available in regularly offered courses.
Students are able to invite a Wharton Ph.D. student and one to three other Wharton undergraduates to lunch at local restaurants around campus compliments of the Wharton Undergraduate Division Research and Scholars Program. The purpose of the lunch program is intended to help Wharton undergraduates learn more about research career paths, the nature of doctoral training, and the implications for course preparation during undergraduate years.
If you are interested in grad school, network and ask professors for advice.
Once you are an RA, make sure you know what you are expected to do. Under-promise and over-deliver.
With professors you don’t know personally, read about their research. Be polite and demonstrate that you are interested in and know about their work. Attach a resume. Send around 10 such emails, all personalized. Expect to have the vast majority of professors tell you that they don’t have an opening or any work for you right now. Repeat. Don’t be surprised if you have to contact a great number of professors. You may end up working with one of these professors later or getting connected to someone else.
Form good relationships with your professors and ask about opportunities for research or further study.
A background in research, programming, statistics, economics, mathematics, or a science-related field all may be sound areas to pursue for students with an eye towards research or a public policy career.
Don’t be afraid to try to find research positions as a freshman (everyone has to start at some point). And then you will be ahead of the curve.
CURF is a valuable resource for all students interested in research at Penn—be sure to take full advantage of them and other resources.