Undergraduate Research Scholars

College of Letters & Science

About URS

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year. Apply now for the 2019-20 year by clicking "Apply to URS" on the left.

The URS Program is intended to be a two-semester credit course experience: admitted students attend an orientation meeting in August, enter the program in the fall semester, and register for URS research credits (2 or 3) in both fall and spring semesters.

Freshmen and sophomores in any UW-Madison school or college are eligible to be URS scholars as well as transfer students during their first year at UW-Madison. The program admits incoming first-year students the summer before their first college fall semester. Incoming freshmen apply at SOAR. Currently enrolled first-year students may also apply for admission in the spring of their freshman year to start in the fall of their sophomore year. URS also admits new transfer students who might benefit from being involved in the program during their first year at UW-Madison. All interested students must complete an on-line application form providing details about their previous experience and their motivation for research. Admission is based on the student’s overall motivation and potential to benefit from the Program. Apply to URS. Incoming first- and second- year and transfer students can apply to URS in the summer. 

Faculty/Staff Mentoring

The essence of the URS Program is the Scholar/Research Mentor relationship and the opportunity it gives you to engage in inquiry-based learning and/ or creative work. As a research scholar you will gain experience probing the unexplained, exploring the possible, creating new knowledge, and/or producing works of art. The impact can be profound and life-changing. Mentors guide students in learning many aspects of a research process including but not limited to:

  • Data gathering techniques
  • Critical reading of literature
  • Developing a thesis, question, and/or hypotheses
  • Research design
  • Presenting research results; communicating research
  • Careers in research
  • Research writing (proposals, writing for research in process, etc.)
  • Research ethics

More information for URS mentors is available here.

Research Fellows

Research Fellows are juniors and seniors who have had research experience. They forge a crucial link between URS scholars and the program’s professional staff. Your Research Fellows develop and facilitate your weekly seminar, assist you with finding research opportunities, and serve as role models on the road to graduation. Research fellows participate in ongoing training and are supervised by professional staff. Finally, your research fellow is a contact for you should problems or concerns arise regarding your progress and performance in assisting your mentor.

More information on URS teaching fellows is available here.

URS Weekly Small Group Seminars

URS Seminars explore the research enterprise and the college experience. The seminars meet weekly on Wednesdays and are facilitated by two Research Fellows. These sessions are designed to remove the mystique of the big university and replace it with knowledge about the campus and the broader aspects of research and creative work, and to address research-related topics of interest to students across the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and arts. These small groups allow scholars to voice their views and develop arguments to support them, explore research ethics, and give each other invaluable support and feedback.

URS course is listed under Interdisciplinary Letters and Science – INTER L&S 250.

Research Presentations

At the end of fall semester, scholars give short oral presentations about their research work or artistic project. Doing a presentation gives you an opportunity to share findings with other scholars, get feedback on ideas, and share enthusiasm for the hard work you have completed. The presentations are a step toward developing your personal presentation style, knowledge, and confidence about the research work.

At the end of spring semester, all scholars participate in the campus-wide Undergraduate Symposium, held in April every year. Each scholar is required to submit a research abstract that must be approved by his or her research mentor in order to be accepted to present or perform at the Symposium. More information on Undergraduate Symposium is available at http://www.learning.wisc.edu/ugsymposium/