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Undergraduates have a range of opportunities to conduct research with a faculty member.

Research Apprenticeship (SEP 390)

One valuable experience is a research apprenticeship, which includes participating in a faculty member's ongoing research. As a research apprentice, a student may conduct literature reviews, code data, interview subjects, participate in research team meetings or complete a variety of other tasks. Research apprenticeships take approximately eight to 10 hours per week.

Research apprenticeships allow students to put their learning into practice and further pursue topics of interest. They are also excellent ways for students to establish relationships with faculty members or discover cutting-edge topics associated with faculty research.

Students who successfully complete a research apprenticeship will earn one graded credit of SESP 390. They may count a maximum of three research apprenticeships or independent studies toward their major requirements.

SESP apprenticeships have included researching the following topics:

  • Tracking intellectual property disputes involving universities, with professor Jeannette Colyvas
  • The use of video for teachers understanding student thinking, with professor Miriam Sherin
  • Social influences on stress and health, with professor Emma Adam
  • School organization and governance, with professor James P. Spillane
  • Human development and learning, with professor David Uttal

Independent Studies (SESP 399)

Independent Studies allows students to explore the literature relevant to a particular topic of interest. This educational offering may also include interviews, surveys, or other research modes. Students may write a paper discussing their findings, the implication of the information for practice or any recommendations they may have relevant to the topic. While faculty members sponsor Independent Studies projects, the topic is not necessarily directly tied to their research work.

SESP Independent Studies topics have included the following:

  • Health care and underprivileged children
  • Global engagement case studies (GESI)
  • Undocumented college students and programs to integrate them into university life
  • Web development as an educational vehicle
  • Wellness applications and relaxation interventions
  • Homelessness and at-risk factors for homelessness in Evanston
  • Crime, prison, inmate rehabilitation
  • Disabilities studies
  • Transracially adopted children and their cultural identity development
  • Teaching assistantship for Introduction to Community Development (SESP 202)

How to Request an Independent Study/Internship

We encourage students to discuss independent study and research apprenticeship possibilities with their academic adviser to develop a plan that enriches their overall goals. First-year students are generally not allowed to participate in independent study or research apprenticeships.

Students seeking to complete an independent study or research apprenticeship must submit a Research Experience Enrollment form with a description of the project and approval from the faculty member with whom they hope to work. The form will be routed to the student's faculty advisor and academic advisor for approval.  One approved, the Student Affairs Office will enroll the student in the appropriate section.


SESP Undergraduate Research  Fund

SESP students can apply for research project funding. Students may apply for support from the Research Fund for items that support or advance their work. Examples include, but are not limited to, expenses associated with data collection or analysis, travel (e.g. mileage, flight, hotel), equipment, research subject costs, and transcription services.

Apply online

Research Opportunities at Northwestern University

Northwestern University and the School of Education and Social Policy offer students the opportunity to work with nationally recognized scholars on a variety of research projects. The following web sites have useful information about faculty research interests and ongoing research: