UofM Students

Undergraduate Research Abroad

The Learning Abroad Center supports meaningful research for undergraduate students as part of a comprehensive study abroad program in order to deepen student learning and develop solid investigative skills. The Learning Abroad Center offers a number of programs that include research opportunities and are eligible for the Learning Abroad Center’s research scholarship.

What is a research project?

A research project involves a systematic investigation of a specific topic, question, hypothesis or theory. The purpose of research is to establish new knowledge or confirm what is already known. The research process involves discovery, documentation and interpretation using a variety of reliable, scholarly resources.

Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students consult relevant primary and secondary sources, analyze findings, and draw conclusions culminating in a final paper or project that demonstrates the knowledge gained through the investigation. Research typically does not involve applied work, internship or volunteer activities.

How can I conduct research abroad?

Many of the study abroad programs listed on the Learning Abroad Center’s website offer credit-bearing research opportunities.  These may consist of a formal course that includes a research project or a directed study opportunity with an on-site faculty member.  Students can utilize the “Program Features” tab on the Learning Abroad Center’s program search page for a list of programs that offer research opportunities.

In some cases, a student may be pursue a directed study with a University of Minnesota faculty member that may include an international research component.

Funding available for international research

Credit-bearing:  International UROP  

Funding for non-credit research opportunities is provided by the University of Minnesota’s UROP Office.

What should I know about conducting research abroad?

Any research that involves engagement with human subjects may require IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval. There is also a review process for projects involving animals. Given the short duration of a study abroad program, students should select research topics that do not require IRB approval when doing research abroad.

When planning your research, consider if the project focuses on the person or if the focus is on policies, practices or procedures about which the person is knowledgeable. Projects which collect information about policies, practices or procedures – even if the person who provided that information is identified – do not constitute human subject research and do not require IRB review.

Research projects which focus on “a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information” as well as projects which involve “sensitive populations” are typically subject to IRB review and should not be pursued during a study abroad program. For more details, visit the IRB research web page or refer to the Key Guidelines on Conducting Research Abroad.

Students pursuing independent international research should investigate any visa restrictions or required procedures in addition to the reviews listed above.

Considerations for designing research abroad

1. Is the research topic realistic to accomplish? Think about the scope, the realities of the overseas location and the time allotted to accomplish it.

2. Have you identified 2-3 key questions that you would like to investigate? Consider your own depth of knowledge of the topic and select focused, concrete questions.

3. Does the project focus on people? Design a project that does not include humans as research subjects.

4. Is there a faculty member abroad who has expertise on the topic and case serve as your mentor?

5. Have the program staff abroad confirmed that your research is tractable? Consult with the LAC staff to determine this for all programs offered by the Learning Abroad Center.

6. Is the program eligible for IUROP funding? Review IUROP scholarship guidelines, if planning to apply.

What are some examples of past research projects?

The International UROP website lists examples of past projects.

Whom can I contact in the Learning Abroad Center with additional questions?

Ellen Reid or Heidi Soneson.

For International UROP scholarship questions, contact Jackie Kujawa.

For research opportunities on Learning Abroad Center programs, contact the appropriate LAC program team.