Research Experience for Prospective PhD Candidates

Most graduate schools will expect applicants to have practical experience in a lab. A strong application portfolio will most likely include participation in research throughout the undergraduate years, both during the academic year and the summers.

It's important that you pursue research opportunities during the academic year and summers (which provide full-time experience) to immerse yourself in a laboratory/project and to show your commitment and motivation for research. The letters of recommendation from your research mentors are a very important part of your graduate school application.

Making the most of your summer experiences

  • Participate in research summer programs throughout the undergraduate years. These can be at your home institution or at other institutions.
  • Identify and apply to several summer programs. This will give you a preview of the application process for graduate school.
  • Apply to summer programs that take place at schools where you may be interested in pursuing your graduate degree.
  • Complete and submit the application materials during the prior winter/spring.
  • Become fully immersed in the research projects that you work on.
  • Talk with advanced students and faculty advisors about graduate school and their experiences.
  • Take advantage of other skills-building activities that the summer program offers.

Finding opportunities

Baylor College of Medicine/National Science Foundation brochure on the importance of summer research experience