The Undergraduate Research Engagement Program (UREP) is designed to partner advanced undergraduate political science and legal studies majors with faculty for hands-on, one-on-one research experiences.
The UREP offers a new model for undergraduate education in the social sciences by training students to work collaboratively with faculty to develop studies with real‐world significance and to carry them out with practical, readily transferable skills that will provide them with a crucial edge in the job market. Students who gain sophisticated research skills will be highly sought after by potential employers: they will understand how to conduct research; how to choose and use the appropriate qualitative or quantitative methods to carry out studies; how to work collaboratively towards a common goal; and how to write effectively in order to convey their findings to the public. These students will be able to not only tell potential employers about the classes they took, but clearly indicate on their resumes and in their interviews the deliverables that they helped produce. Furthermore, these students will gain critical information about substantive political and legal topics that will place them head and shoulders above other graduates competing for internships and jobs in public policy or the civil service.
The topics and projects that have already been advanced through the UREP reflect the breadth of faculty expertise in the department, as well as the range of interests among political science and legal studies majors. In past semesters, for instance, the REP trained undergraduate students to construct and manage public opinion surveys and analyze data through the UMass Poll; to draft in-depth literature reviews about sanitation reform in India; to conduct archival research on the death penalty; and to compile and analyze a database of the ratification of international environmental treaties – just to name a few projects!
Student researchers are encouraged to present the research conducted through the UREP at conferences like the Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference. They receive opportunities to co-author reports, and they are able to incorporate the skills and methodology learned through the program into their capstone or thesis projects. Most importantly, the UREP is a unique opportunity which students can include on their resumes as they apply for graduate school or enter the workforce.
Unless it is otherwise stated, students will receive academic credit for UREP projects (not a paycheck). Students selected to participate in UREP will be enrolled in POLISCI/LEGAL 398R - Research Practicum. Students may take up to 18 practicum credits while at UMass. Those credits may count toward the total needed for graduation, but they do not count toward Political Science or Legal Studies major requirements. In general, 1 credit hour is equivalent to about 40 hours of work during the semester and students may enroll for up to 3 credits per semester. The practicum is graded as pass/fail.