Research and Internships

Co-curricular experiences such as internships, volunteer opportunities, and undergraduate research are an integral part of the undergraduate academic program. They provide insight into career paths, job-specific training, and the chance to begin developing a professional network. Students in CMNS have a wealth of opportunities in faculty research laboratories on campus, or with the wide range of federal laboratories, research institutes, and private companies in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

University of Maryland students have the best of both worlds.

On campus, you have opportunities to do undergraduate research in world-class laboratories under the mentorship of renowned faculty researchers.

If you choose to go off campus, you are a short commute away from one of the nation’s largest concentrations of companies, federal research labs and research hospitals. Most students do more than one internship during their undergraduate years.

Finding a Faculty Research Mentor

Finding an Internship



Finding a Faculty Research Mentor

Finding a suitable research experience takes some work on your part.

Here are the usual steps:

1. Browse through descriptions of each faculty member's research to identify several potential mentors who are doing research that matches your own intellectual interests and career goals. For students interested in the chemical and life sciences, here are some places to start:

2. Ask around

  • Your current and past professors may be accepting students or know of any colleagues who are
  • Your academic advisor might know of mentors who would be a good match for your interests

3. Contact potential mentors (email is usually best, but stopping by their labs or offices is also okay) to determine whether they are interested in having you join their research program. In your first contact with potential faculty mentors, you should tell them:

  • Your year (e.g., sophomore)
  • Your GPA
  • Any relevant research or laboratory experience you already have
  • Your general research interests or goals

4. Plan to meet with each potential faculty mentor in person, tour their lab and speak to other students in the lab (both graduate and undergraduate) before making a final decision

5. After you have decided upon which research opportunity is best for you, it’s a good idea to make an explicit agreement with your mentor that specifies:

  • How much time you will spend in the lab
  • The days and hours you will work
  • Your responsibilities

If you wish to receive academic credit for your work, you should then contact the Coordinating Advisor or Undergraduate Program Director in the department to which your faculty mentor belongs. Each faculty member has a specific course and section number for undergraduate research, and each department has its own procedures for registering for credit.

More Structured Programs Include:

  • The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program – designed to prepare students who are primarily from low-income, first-generation and traditionally underrepresented groups to pursue doctoral studies. Full-time University juniors and seniors who wish to pursue doctoral studies, enhance their skills to prepare for graduate study, and participate in undergraduate research with faculty members are eligible.

  • Departmental Honors Programs – offered in each department. These are typically four semester programs, with students applying in the spring of their sophomore year or fall of their junior year. Students work under the supervision of a faculty mentor to design and carry out an independent research project, which culminates in a formal defense of the research. Students receive academic credit for their research that can be applied toward their degree requirements, participate in honors seminars and, upon completion of the program, graduate "With Honors".

Funding for on-campus research

Many students, especially those who are new to research, volunteer their time or receive academic credit. However, there are some sources of financial support:

Finding an Internship

The Washington D.C. area provides our students the opportunity to participate in research internships at federal research centers, research hospitals, and companies. Some internships offer a stipend or hourly wage, while others are unpaid. In some cases, if the internship has a strong academic component, it is possible to earn academic credit for an internship experience.

Finding the perfect internship requires a combination of luck, determination, and ingenuity. It's best to use a variety of strategies. 

Keep your eyes open


  • Create your own personal network of friends, professors, teaching assistants, and academic/career advisors. Many openings are never advertised widely because they are quickly filled by word of mouth.
  • Be sure to visit campus career fairs (see the Career Center's website for dates of upcoming fairs)

Search online

  • University Career Center: provides career counseling, maintains resources on career planning and job hunting, sponsors information sessions and workshops, and assists with internship, part-time and full-time job placement.
  • Careers 4 Terps: 24-hour access to job and internship listings, resume referral, on-campus interviewing, and updates on employer events.
  • CMNS Job and Internship opportunities: a listing of recent internship and job opportunities
  • JIFSAN internship program: research internships in a variety of areas (e.g., animal health, analytical chemistry, immunology, microbiology, risk assessment, and toxicology) sponsored by the University of Maryland, College Park and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • National Park Service internship program: a collaboration between the University of Maryland, College Park and the NPS that allows students to gain experience in science education and communication.
  • Other regions of the U.S.: Try the internship websites of colleges and universities in other regions and explore The University Career Center's listing of reciprocal arrangements with other colleges that allows you to search for opportunities across the country.
  • International Internships: and have comprehensive listings of programs and resources. The Career Center can also help you find these kinds of opportunities.

Tips for locating specific types of opportunities

On-campus research

  • The Research Opportunities on Campus website has links to a variety of on-campus research resources and suggestions for locating a mentor.
  • Keep an eye out for flyers posted in hallways, too...

Off-campus research

Clinical/Health Care

Non-profit Organizations and Community Service

  • Leadership and Community Service Learning Office has gathered a large number of resources to assist students, faculty, and staff in finding service opportunities. These resources can be found on their website or by visiting Suite 1110 in Stamp Student Union.
  • Search for volunteer and internship opportunities in the U.S. and abroad on the Idealist website. 


For questions about research and internships, contact:

Dr. Kaci Thompson
Assistant Dean for Science Education Initiatives
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

1313 Symons Hall