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Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is the exploration of a specific research topic by an undergraduate student in order to make an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. The Student Success Center highly encourages all students in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences to engage in research opportunities for a variety of reasons; we've even listed a few below in the FAQ section.

Undergraduate Research Programs

CAS 3440/ENGR 3440: OUPEMRAP Course Details
The Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research Associates Program (PEMRAP) at OU is an original collaboration between the OU Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Engineering. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the basic concepts of clinical research and to provide hands-on experience in clinical research conducted within an academic/medical environment.

This course provides OU undergraduates the opportunity to be involved in hospital-based clinical research being conducted by the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Emergency Medicine (PEM). Students will work under the supervision of assigned attending physicians and research staff.

The expected benefits for the students in this course are:

  • Exposure to hospital-based clinical research
  • Exposure to clinical emergency medicine
  • Increased knowledge of human subjects’ research, with certificates of completion in basic research, good clinical practice, the responsible conduct of research, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The opportunity to receive training and a certificate in Basic Life Support
  • Access to didactic lectures
  • Potential for letters of recommendation


Lecture Sessions
Lecture Sessions will be held on Friday afternoons, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. on the OUHSC campus (virtual options may be made available). Sessions include an introduction to clinical research, study design and methodology, informed consent, enrollment techniques, and data collection and management. Faculty members with active research projects will introduce the basic principles behind the clinical questions being asked. An important aspect of this course is utilization of the Clinical Skills Education and Testing Center (CSETC) on the OUHSC campus. Students will participate in hands-on sessions with High Fidelity mannequins and practice basic PEM procedures. Students will be assigned a PEM Faculty Mentor that will help them navigate the course and clinical research shifts.

Clinical Research Shifts in the Emergency Department
OUPEMRAP students will have the opportunity to observe and participate in a wide variety of clinical research studies with varying scope and scale. Some of these studies are internal research projects that are only being conducted at our site, and others are multi-center studies where patients are being recruited and enrolled in hospitals across the United States. While some studies have no grant funding and OUPEMRAP students may comprise the entire research enrollment team, other studies are supported by multi-million dollar grants with the support of research staff. Student responsibilities will vary depending on the study. Students will help screen patients for active studies, gather important patient information, and enroll eligible patients into studies. The number and type of studies vary from semester to semester but can lead to interaction with a wide range of patients with a multitude of different conditions.

Clinical Research Shifts
Students will be expected to work an average of twelve (12) clinical hours per month in the emergency department, for a total of fifty (50) clinical hours by the end of the semester. Given the distance between campuses and students’ other responsibilities, these hours can be performed in 4-8-hour increments, to include evenings and weekends. 

This class provides an unparalleled opportunity to work within a busy Pediatric Emergency Department. Your role as a student and research associate places you on the front lines of clinical research and can give you an inside look into how advances in medicine are made. Step-by-step, patient-by-patient, you will gain experiences and learn skills that have the potential to shape your future career.

Note* PEMRAP/CAS 3440/ENGR 3440 is not offered in the summer.

Expectations of Students

  • Complete online training prerequisites prior to the first day of class.
  • Attend weekly lecture sessions on Friday afternoons, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm (OUHSC campus, with possible virtual attendance options). 
  • Meet one-on-one with your assigned mentor at least monthly (virtual and/or in-person).
  • Participate in an average of twelve (12) clinical hours per month for a total of fifty (50) clinical hours by the end of the semester.
  • Prepare a 10-minute conference-style presentation over a topic of interest acquired during the semester or present a novel research idea.


Who Should Enroll in this Course:
Undergraduate University of Oklahoma students considering a career in medicine, healthcare in general, or clinical research should consider enrolling in this course.  A student must have completed at least 30 hours toward their undergraduate degree and have a 2.50 GPA or greater in order to be eligible for this course. Note* It is vital that students interested in participating in PEMRAP consider the time commitment required before starting the registration process. Students with financial hardships that may prevent them from travelling the required distance may be able to apply for financial assistance.

3 credits letter-graded

Each PEMRAP student is responsible for his or her own transportation to and from Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.  Embark offers public transportation directly from the Norman campus to the HSC campus.

Restrictions apply, but parking is available in designated garages for shifts after 5:30 PM Monday-Friday and anytime Saturday and Sunday. Please contact the Program Coordinator for details.

Students must complete criminal background checks, drugs screens, and immunizations. Flu shots and the COVID-19 vaccine are strongly encouraged. 

Apply here for OUPEMRAP Course

The Office of Undergraduate and Creative Activity (UReCA) at the University of Oklahoma was created in 2022 to help support undergraduate students who are involved, or wish to become involved, in any kind of research or creative activity. Undergraduate research and creative activity is an avenue for undergraduate students to explore their content area through active, process-driven learning. This learning could include inquiry, data analysis, study, or literature reviews that allow the student to continuously construct understanding about their field.

UReCA exists to serve undergraduate students, giving the entire undergraduate community at OU equitable opportunities to grow in knowledge, understanding, and collaboration. UReCA provides financial support, mentorship, and presentation opportunities to undergraduate students of all disciplines who wish to engage in research and/or creative activity.


Click here to learn more about the URECA program

In partnership with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Honors College offers an opportunity for first-year Honors students to participate in laboratory research. This course, the Honors First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) is open to Honors College students from all majors. Through a competitive application process students are matched with ongoing research projects led by OU professors in numerous disciplines. Selected students will participate in active laboratory research for 8-10 hours per week, culminating in a poster presentation and awards ceremony. The application process occurs in the fall semester, and the research work occurs in the spring semester. Students earn 3 hours of Honors credit for successful completion of the course.

Click here for more information

With the generous support of the Office of the Vice President of Research, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program offers financial assistance for scholarly and creative projects under the mentorship of a faculty member.   

Click here for more information

The Graduate College at the OU Health Sciences Center hosts five summer undergraduate research programs aimed at preparing and encouraging undergraduate students to pursue careers in biomedical research or health-related sciences. Studies show undergraduate research programs are beneficial to the success of applying to and completing a graduate degree program.


Click here for more information

Undergraduate Research FAQs

Hands-on experience in your field (it doesn't have to be, though); faculty connections for letters of recommendation, references, etc.; earn credit, scholarships, stipends, etc.; strengthens leadership and teamwork skills; boosts resume and marketability; shows passion for understanding and learning; valuable soft skill development: professionalism, time management, multi-tasking, critical thinking, etc.; possibility of published work; and so much more!

It varies! You could be doing research in a lab with a team or you could be in the library or out in the field researching alone. It depends on the opportunities you seek. 

Look for program applications, talk to faculty and staff, check your emails regularly, ask the SSC, monitor OU social media channels (espcially the SSC), etc.

Yes, absolutely! Undergraduate research looks great on your medical school applications. Undergraduate research teaches a student the origin of medicine. Without research to find cures, study conditions, procedures, etc. the doctors wouldn’t know how to treat patients. Research also showcases the level of which a student can understand sciences or other subjects, not just on the surface, but digging deeper into the “why”. But also...

  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Medical School Applications (they will ask about UG research)
  • Skillsets needed for medical school
  • Could help with finding more direction (specialty)
  • Communication skills; making the complex understandable.

Yes, there are plenty. Research isn't limited to white lab coats and a lab setting. There are many ways to conduct research.

Great question! This part can be a bit intimidating. The limitations section of a journal article is a great place to start. The author of the research you are reading should include a limitations section. The limitation section includes holes in their research, posiblities for future research, etc. They basically tell you what you can do next to contribute to similar research! 

No, you don't! You can research anything that interests you. As an example, there is a doctor who is on Youtube, and he did his research on acrobatics! This obviously has nothing to do with medicine, but he had an interest in it and was passionate about learning more. Passion is the key to good research! Research is fun when you genuinely have an interest.