The University of Virginia has numerous research award programs that provide funding for student research projects. Each of them requires you to submit a short but well thought-out research proposal.
For example, a Harrison Award proposal should discuss:
- Your research question and appropriate background information;
- your proposed methodology;
- the potential outcome of your project, its implications, and limitations of your research.
You must also submit a timeline in which you explain the chronology of your research. You need to arrange for a letter of recommendation from the faculty member who would advise you on the proposed research, as well as one from another faculty member.
Applying for a research award takes substantial planning; you won’t be able to do this overnight. Instead, take the long view: as you discover your academic interests and plan your course of study, start thinking about the questions that interest you most. Take research methods courses in your field so you can develop the tools to answer those questions. Get to know your professors by going to their office hours or joining a lab. As you start thinking about a possible research question, discuss the project with potential faculty advisors.
Here’s another reason you’ll need to plan ahead: programs like the Harrison Award are yearlong endeavors in which students generally carry out their research over the summer following the year they apply, continue it into the fall, and turn in final reports and make presentations the next spring. This means first-, second-, and third-year students can apply for these awards, but fourth years cannot. If you think you may want to apply for an award to allow you to conduct research for your distinguished majors thesis or capstone project, as many students do, you'll need to start thinking about your project early - perhaps even before you know whether you have been accepted to a DMP program.