Research Experience for Prospective PhD Candidates

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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.

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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 skill-building activities that the summer program offers.

Finding opportunities

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

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