On the Shoulders of Giants: Going to a Research University

A photo of Cordelia Kwon

How to get involved on the cutting edge

If you are anything like me, you probably are not thinking about research while looking at colleges. I honestly did not even know what going to a research university meant. And you may not think it is important! But I hope I can make research seem a little more interesting, a little less intimidating, and a little more important.

So what is a research university? A research university is one that focuses on and promotes the production of research. NYU supports faculty and students in this effort.

Two students studying at a table in the library.

So What?

Research is important for ANY career path. If you want to get a graduate-level degree, research experience shows your future school that you are prepared for the work. Even if you are not interested in future studies, research is an amazing tool. You can learn new skills you may not learn in class. In addition, research is a great way to build or strengthen your professional network. After all, every professor and researcher is highly connected in their field.

Getting Involved

At least for me, research felt really intimidating. I did not know where to start. But I discovered there are four ways to get involved. You can start conducting research your first semester or your last, whatever fits into your path! Here’s my guide on how to get involved:


  1. In a lab: NYU has many labs that are always looking for student volunteers or workers. Check out some from my school, the School of Global Public Health.
  2. Through an internship: While I was in Sydney, Australia, NYU set me up with an internship at the George Institute for Global Health. While interning there, I wrote a paper on my work, and it’s going to be published! Keep an eye out for internships with think tanks or other research organizations that are not university-based!
  3. With a professor: Professors will often search for research assistants. Look out for emails from your department or directly ask a professors whose work you like.
  4. On your own: While this option is the most intimidating, it is also the most rewarding. There are tons of individual grants for your own research. Check out the College of Arts and Science Deanʼs Undergraduate Research Fund, the Gallatin Undergraduate Research Fund, or Liberal Studies Dean’s Global Research Grants.

Going to a research university, like NYU, is a unique opportunity. As a student here, you are in the middle of cutting-edge progress; you have the ability to create new technologies; you are key to political and sociological debates; and you are building knowledge.