FAQs About the Program

Who can participate?

Full-time students who are starting their first, second, or third year at The University of Alabama are eligible for the Emerging Scholars Program.

Do I need any skills before applying for ESP?

No research skills are needed to become an Emerging Scholar. A successful Emerging Scholar possesses a naturally inquisitive mind, careful attention to detail, and a commitment to personal excellence. You will learn how to conduct research “on the job” under the guidance of your faculty mentor.

What if I don’t know what I want to major in?

Many students are still deciding on a major during their first years in college. ESP gives you the unique opportunity to explore a major you may be considering “behind the scenes.” Research plays an important role in nearly every major on campus, and being engaged in research lets you see what you like – and possibly what you don’t – before you decide. The more important consideration is what topics interest you and what would you like to learn more about? Emerging Scholars do not have to conduct research in their designated major or college. We encourage interdisciplinary research.

How many students are typically selected for UA 155?

While the number varies after each application period, generally between 60 and 90 students are selected.

Is ESP competitive? Will I be accepted into ESP?

ESP is competitive. The number of accepted Scholars fluctuates from year to year. On average, we generally accept between 60 and 90 students each cohort. While grades and test scores are an important part of our decision, more importantly we are looking for students who display a strong interest in undergraduate research and a dedication to excellence.

Please also keep in mind that ESP is not the only way UA students may become involved in research. If you are looking for other ways to get involved, visit the Office for Undergraduate Research website.

Should I participate my first year?

While ESP is open to incoming freshman through upcoming juniors (please inquire by email if you are a senior and interested), participating in this program as a freshman provides you an opportunity to do what few first-year students have the chance to do. It prepares you for research and introduces you to a faculty member who will mentor or guide your early explorations. You will also have the opportunity to build relationships with other students with similar interests in undergraduate research. It also helps you explore your own interests.

Will there be a research opportunity that interests me?

Yes. Opportunities for undergraduate research are available in any field of study offered by UA. The interests are broad. There are also research centers focused on topics as diverse as youth violence, green manufacturing, transportation, freshwater studies, education policy, communication and information research, Southern history, business and economic research, cyber crime, and rural health.

No your interests, there is a research project out there for you. Visit our Research Database for some projects on campus available for undergraduates.

I’m planning on going to graduate school, law school, or medical school. Will ESP look good on my application?

Yes, taking part in research as an undergraduate will make you a better candidate for post-graduate education. However, ESP is looking for students who have a real interest in research — a genuine curiosity about some question, problem, or phenomenon. Hint: so are graduate school, law school, and medical school committees.

I am not planning on going to graduate school, law school, or medical school. Should I still apply to ESP?

Yes, research plays an important role in almost every career field, and participating in research teaches you skills like critical thinking and problem solving, as well as how to work with a group to accomplish a goal. These are skills that will make you an excellent job candidate when you graduate. You may find a path you didn’t know you wanted to explore.

FAQs: Program Requirements and Process

How do I register for UA 155?

If you are accepted, you will receive an email asking you to reply with the semester you intend to register. After you send that email, you will be tagged in the registration system as able to enroll, and you can register. Make sure to leave time in your schedule if you have not applied or been accepted when your registration opens. The course is held Mondays, 3:00-3:50 PM, usually in Russell Hall. If you have questions about the class please email emergingscholars@ua.edu.

How will I be paired with a faculty mentor for UA 156?

During your time in UA 155, you will interview faculty members, attend events to learn about their research, and listen to guests speaking about the research they do on campus. You will have help identifying and contacting faculty mentors who share your research interests. However, ultimately, you will be responsible for connecting with and selecting your faculty mentor. Make sure to visit our Research Database.

How much time will I spend doing research?

The time commitment varies during different stages of projects, but generally, you an expect 3 hours of work per week for every hour of course credit earned. UA 156 is a 2 credit hour course, which will require about 6 hours per week of research work.

If your mentor expects you to spend more time than this, they will make that clear prior to the start of your research semester.

Is anything beyond UA 155 and 156 required of me as an Emerging Scholar?

Students are required to present research at the University-wide Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference (URCA).

Can I pursue research after I complete ESP?

Yes, once you have satisfied all of ESP requirements, we strongly encourage you to continue your research until graduation. Through a commitment to your faculty mentor and your research, you will demonstrate to post-graduate schools and employers that you are an excellent addition to their team.

We encourage you to stay connected to ESP’s network of alumni and current Scholars. All Scholars are included in the ESP Listserv, where news and information are shared with the entire Program.