Information for Research Mentors

Many students get course credit for working on research projects outside our department. Research can be a career or life changing experience for an undergraduate, and is quickly becoming an standard part of a science education. We are glad you are considering advising a student, and we provide these guidelines to help the process:

If you have a suitable position for a student, please send a brief description to our Director of Undergraduate Research at and he will post it.

Advisor requirements

For course credit, we generally limit advisors to those with a PhD or MD. There are exceptions for experienced researchers and in practice, much guidance may come from others in the lab such as current graduate students or postdocs.


Individual advisors set requirements for their advisees, but we ask that you clearly convey your expectations to your advisee, much the same as you would in a course syllabus. Your investment in training may cause you to require multiple semesters of participation by the student. We ask you to be understanding if a student makes a good effort and decides to try another research project or lab more suited to them.


A three-credit semester of research should be comparable to a three-credit upper division course. One guideline commonly used is 3-hours per week per credit hour, which allows for background reading and set-up time, but just as with a course, you may require somewhat more or less effort. In practice, the timing of effort for research is flexible per semester, as is the official assignment of credit. However, the sum total of research effort for a project should correspond to the total credit given.


Please read the requirements for different options on the main undergraduate research page. Your advisee may be planning to receive credit that requires a written or oral presentation. That means they will likely need some additional guidance from you and/or others in your lab.

Paid work

A student must not be paid and get credit for the same hours, although many students in the past have been paid for some hours and received credit for different hours in the same semester.


If you are not in Biological Sciences, the Director of Undergraduate Research will ask you for a grade near the end of a semester for which your student has registered. A common option for research across semesters is to assign a grade of IP (in progress), which must be changed to a letter grade within one year. (this is the default if a grade is not received). If a student is engaged and making a good effort at research, they will generally receive a good grade, often an A. The grade should be based on effort, engagement and skills acquired rather than on the quality of the results, which may be more appropriate for graduate students. For advisors outside the Department of Biological Sciences, the Director of Undergraduate Research is the official instructor of record and therefore makes the final grade assignment based on your recommendation.

For more information contact the Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Edwin Griff, (