Undergraduate research is an excellent way to enhance your biology degree and make yourself stand out among other candidates for internships, jobs, or graduate or professional school. Check out our tips on how to identify a research lab to get involved.
There are multiple ways to participate in undergraduate research including:
- Research for credit
- Research for pay
- Georgia Tech competitive paid research fellowships
- Research as a volunteer
- Research for credit outside the School of Biological Sciences
- Senior Research Experience
- Research Option
- Summer internships and current opportunities
- Travel awards
- More information
Research for credit
To receive course credit for conducting research, you must be involved in a biology-related, research project and not simply providing services that are only distantly related to research goals (e.g., washing glassware or preparing media). Students not completing their Senior Research Experience should register for BIOL 4699. Students who are completing their Senior Research Experience should register for BIOL 4690 or 4910. BIOL 4699, 4690, and 4910 can count towards a Biology major’s program of study; up to 6 credits of BIOL 4699 can count as Biology electives. Additional BIOL 4699 credits count as free electives. Your faculty mentor must provide permission for you to register for any of the research classes by emailing Benita Black (include student name and GT ID#); you can find full instructions on the Permits and Registration page. You and your professor must agree upon the number of hours for which you'll register (usually one registered hour equals three hours work in the lab per week during the fall and spring semesters). After registering for the course, follow these instructions to change the default from one hour.
Research for pay
In some cases, you can be paid to conduct research-related activities. As with research for credit, you must be involved in a biology-related research project, and not simply providing services that are only distantly related to research goals. Current pay rates are ~$10-12/hr depending on experience. After you and your faculty member agree to the terms, you must visit the Biological Sciences finance office to complete appropriate paperwork to get paid. You will then be responsible for completing bi-weekly timesheets that your faculty mentor signs. If you are hired at the start of a semester, you should register for BIOL 4698. Although these are audit-only, no-credit courses that do not count towards your program of study, they allow you to document your paid research experience on your transcript. Your faculty mentor must provide permission for you to register by emailing Benita Black (include student name and GT ID#); you can find full instructions on the Permits and Registration page.
Competitive paid research fellowships
Georgia Tech offers a number of competitive paid research fellowships that match you with a Georgia Tech faculty member for a semester-long research experience. These programs also have travel awards. For more information, see
- the President's Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA)
- the College of Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship Awards (URSA) program websites.
- In addition, there are numerous competitive Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) around the country, including the Georgia Tech Biological Sciences' REU in Aquatic Chemical Ecology.
Research as a volunteer
You may volunteer to conduct research-related activities. These arrangements are informal and the work can be negotiated between you and your faculty advisor. You must fill out the Georgia Tech Agreement for Volunteer Services form available from the Biological Sciences office to officially recognize the volunteer relationship.
Research for credit or pay outside the School of Biological Sciences
You can conduct research in other Schools within Georgia Tech or even in institutions outside of Georgia Tech, and obtain credit for BIOL 4690, 4698, 4699, or 4910. Dr. Michael Goodisman, the School of Biological Sciences Associate Chair for the Undergraduate Program, will serve as official co-supervisor and instructor of record within Biological Sciences for the class. Note that a co-supervisor is not needed if your faculty mentor has a minor or courtesy appointment within the School of Biological Sciences. The primary research faculty mentor (e.g. in Psychology, Emory University, etc.) must be a PhD or MD level scientist, preferably in a group leader-like role (not a postdoc, etc). To obtain approval for this research to count for BIOL course credit, you must provide the Associate Chair a description of the research you will be doing, the name of the primary research mentor, and the department or institution of the research mentor. Your primary research mentor must email the Associate Chair agreeing to serve as you research mentor and follow the Biology syllabus for the course in question. If appropriate, the Associate Chair will approve the project for credit or pay.
Senior Research Experience
All Biology majors must complete a “Senior Research Experience” consisting of one of the following courses: BIOL 4590, 4690, or 4910. BIOL 4690 and 4910 are conducted under the supervision of a faculty member in the research laboratory. BIOL 4590 is taught by Biological Sciences faculty members each semester; topics vary depending upon the faculty teaching the course. In addition, you must take BIOL 4460 either concurrent with or in the semester after taking BIOL 4590, 4690, or 4910. Note that if 4460 is taken after BIOL 4590, 4690, or 4910, the student must seek a permit to register by emailing Benita Black (include your GT ID number in your request).
BIOL 4590 Research Project Lab
BIOL 4690 Independent Research Project
BIOL 4910 Honors Research Thesis
Class of 10-16 students
Taught by Biol faculty
Graded by course instructor
Individual research project Arrange for a faculty mentor. Write short proposal at start. Write paper at end in scientific manuscript style. Graded by faculty mentor.
Pre-req: 1 hr prior research experience (BIOL 2699, 4699). Minimum 3.0 GPA. Individual research project. Arrange for faculty mentor. Write short proposal at start. Write thesis at end. Graded by faculty mentor and second reviewer.
Take BIOL 4460 Communicating Biological Research concurrently.
Take BIOL 4460 Communicating Biological Research concurrently or during next semester.
Take BIOL 4460 Communicating Biological Research concurrently or during next semester. For Research Option, Take LMC 4701 during semester prior and LMC 4702 during concurrent semester (Must be in Research Option to take LMC 4701 and 4702).
Biol 4690 and 4910 are permit-only. Follow these instructions to request a permit for these courses.
The Research Option gives you a competitive advantage on getting into graduate and professional schools through an intensive, multi-semester research experience, an undergraduate honors thesis. For more information, see our page on the Research Option for Biology majors.
Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)
Summer REUs are competitive, paid opportunities for full time research during the summer. Application deadlines are typically early February.
- Georgia Tech Biology's REU in Aquatic Chemical Ecology
- Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project's Bee-INSPIRED Summer Research Program
- Current research opportunities: Summer 2017 REUs and other programs
If you have been accepted to present a poster or talk at a conference, you may qualify for travel funding from the College of Sciences. See that CoS Conference Travel Grants page for more information.
For more information: