How to Fulfill your Research Requirement
How much research do I need to graduate?
- Chemistry BS, ACS-certified research requirement: 2 semesters or one summer of research
- Chemistry BS: No research requirement
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology BS research requirement: 1 semester or one summer of research
Start talking to faculty as early as possible about their research. A good place to start is by looking at faculty webpages. Many faculty have a waiting list for their lab and some may encourage you to take specific courses before starting research with them. Faculty without external grants have to apply for funding to take summer students, so they need to know if someone is interested in working with them early in the spring semester.
We do not guarantee on-campus research experiences for all students, but we do make sure that all our majors can graduate.
Before you go to meet with faculty about their research, take the time to read their research description and look up some papers that the faculty member has written recently. Many science faculty also have posters (and papers) up in the hallways of Rector showing the work done by previous research students.
Off-campus research experiences can range from unpaid volunteer experience to paid research assistant positions. If you want to be in a certain location, you can reach out to professors at local research universities to see if they have any openings for summer research students. You should be clear about why you are contacting them, what about their research interests you, what skills you have in the lab, and include your resume with the email. Dickinson “career center” offers competitive internship grants that will cover travel and housing costs for unpaid internships, if you can’t find a lab with money to pay you. Those grant deadlines occur in the spring, usually March-April. Doing an unpaid internship early in your college career can be a way to gain skills that can lead to paid summer research opportunities.
Some companies and government agencies have intern positions for chemistry and biochemistry majors for the summers. You have to look at the company webpages to find them, typically.
The NSF funds Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs in a wide variety of disciplines, as do the NIH, EPA and the Department of Defense. See the links below to lists of available summer research opportunities.
- National Science Foundation
- Office of Intramural Training & Education at the National Institutes of Health
Timeline for Applying to off-campus internships
Oct-Nov: Identify programs to which you want to apply and ask faculty if they are willing to write letters of recommendation for you.
Nov-Dec: Begin the application process and give your letter writers a COMPLETE list of programs AND deadlines for the programs. Also provide your resume and a copy of your personal statement. Be conscientious and target your searches to positions you would actually accept if you were chosen. Since faculty are often writing letters on behalf of many students at the same time (think 50-100 letters), it pays to complete your applications early and thoroughly, and provide as much information to faculty in advance as possible. If faculty members have to email you about some aspect of the application, that slows down the process, and may delay submission of your letter in a timely fashion. Some deadlines may be as early as December.
Jan-Feb: Finish up all the applications.
Mar-April: Wait to hear where you got in and start making decisions!