Research Funding

What kind of funding do you need in order to pursue your research project?

Do you need to be paid for the time that you put in? Do you need to purchase reagents, books or computational time for your project? Are you ready to present your research at a national or international meeting? There are resources for each of these needs!

Pay for Research

Some faculty in some fields of research will have funds to pay students for their work. In some cases, student may earn wages for work on research projects for the faculty member. Some students will split their time into helping on other people’s projects and working on their own projects.

Research groups will advertise for students with specific skills, for example, statistics or molecular biology or linear algebra. Student jobs can be found on Cornell’s Student Employment website.

Many research groups will require or prefer to hire students that have work-study funding as part of their financial aid package. If you do have this funding, the federal government pays more than half of your wages.

Funding for Supplies

In many fields, the faculty member that you work with will have funding to support whatever supplies or materials you may need. Some colleges ( CALS, Eng, Arts (deans?) also have grants to help support research.

Presenting Your Research

Your research has gone well and you are ready to present it on a bigger stage? How do you get funding to do this? First, see if the meeting has any support for undergraduate travel awards. Many professional societies do have such funding. Then, talk to your major and your college. Many of the colleges do have funding to help students present their work. Finally, see if your research group has any funds that you might be able to use.

Summer Funding

Staying in Ithaca for the summer to work on your research is a wonderful opportunity. There are several resourses that will help you be paid for your work.

  1. Design Your Own Internship- a program through Financial Aid and Student Employment that will pay 60% of your wages, with your research group paying the rest.
  2. Some colleges and majors will have competitive felllowships that will allow you to stay in Ithaca for a summer of research
  3. Some professional societies have funding for student stipends for the summer. Check with your research advisor.
  4. Faculty funded through federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation can apply for extra funding to support a student researcher over the summer. Talk to your research advisor early ( November?) so there is time for the application.
  5. Students associated with OADI or the Engineering Diversity Office may apply for summer support. Students interested in applying to graduate school should check out the McNair Scholars program for low-income and first generation students.

Your personal needs and interests and the preferences those in the research setting are key factors as you seek a position.

Credit or Pay?

Academic Credit

Many departments award academic credit in variable amounts to students who file for an independent study. How can you beat a faculty student ratio of 1:1? Credit is a great way to enhance your academics in a structured setting.

Students should consult with Courses of Study and their faculty advisor to explore this option.

Paid positions

Many research positions are paid. It’s a great opportunity to use work-study while engaging in a stimulating setting. While the student who is eligible for work/study funding has an advantage, paid positions that don’t require work-study eligibility exist as well. The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment can provide additional information.

Volunteer Positions

A student volunteer receives neither pay nor credit, but volunteering can help you “get a foot in the door.” Sometimes students, especially underclassmen, work their way into a research project, or they develop basic skills enabling them to become qualified for the research work they want to do. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate enthusiasm for the research work of a professor.

Fellowships: General and Prestigious

Fellowships are endowments used to provide financial support to individuals pursuing advanced study or training. They can be for schooling, travel to certain countries, or projects within a given organization or group. See the Cornell University Fellowships Program for more information.

On-campus Resources

The best sources of information on-campus are the college offices that oversee undergraduate research. See the following:

Cornell Career Services maintains an excellent page with information about summer internship and job opportunities. You may also use Cornell Undergraduate Research Advisors as a resource.

Off-campus Resources

Regional Opportunities

National Opportunities

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Summer Internship. The ICPSR is the world’s largest archive of digital social science data.

Federal agencies

The source of much support for your faculty mentor, federal agencies also have a few programs that support undergraduate research programs. See the list of federal funding agencies, maintained by the Office of Sponsored Programs.

See also:

International Opportunities

Funding Searches

  • Cornell’s Research Administration and Information Services offers online sources to assist faculty and research staff in identifying sources of funding

National Organizations with a Focus on Undergraduate Research

Professional Organizations

Be sure to explore funding opportunities offered by professional organizations in your field of interest.