Follow the steps below if you want to join a research group at the University of Illinois.

Identify your research interests

Talk to people in your network

  • Ask peers who already have mentors or are working in research labs for advice on how to get involved in research
  • Talk to professors you have or had courses with; they may have information about opportunities to join their research group or another professor's group
  • Talk to graduate students, such as past or current TAs

Other materials and preparation

  • Put together a resume. Visit the UIUC Career Center Website for tips on how to write a resume
  • List the courses you have taken that would be relevant to doing research in your area of interest
  • List the courses you plan to take in the next two semesters
  • List your skills that could be useful to the research lab

Identify professors whose research aligns with your interest

  • Check out our faculty research matrices to get a glimpse of the faculty in each engineering department and what research area(s) they are part of
  • Utilize the web: get to know the professors in your department/program and visit their research group websites
  • Know professors' research interests and areas of expertise
  • Take note of who to contact about joining the lab

Contact professors

  • Send an email expressing your interest of working in their research group
    • Include your major, year, relevant courses, skills, interests, goals, etc.
    • Relate their research to your own interests
    • Inform the professor if you are applying to an undergraduate research program
    • Attach your completed resume
    • Keep it concise!
  • You can also stop by during a professor's office hours
  • Follow up with an email or a visit to their office if you have not received a reply

Three possible outcomes

  • You do not receive a response
    • Remember that faculty are very busy and might not have had the time to respond to your email
    • Send a follow-up email at least a week after sending the original email
  • You are told "no"
    • This is more common than you might think
    • Move on to contacting another professor – all you need is one "yes"
  • You are asked for an interview
    • Prepare in advance by reviewing the same ideas you put in the email
    • Generate a short list of questions
    • Bring your resume
    • After the interview, send a "thank you" email to demonstrate your interest