If you are looking to gain some additional research experience, it is a great idea to get involved with a research lab here in the Department of Psychology as a research assistant (or RA). This is particularly important if you are thinking of going to graduate school in psychology or a related field. An RA position has the potential to provide you with (a) hands-on research experience, (b) greater contact with graduate students and professors, (c) a sense of community, (d) a letter of recommendation. To learn more about the research interests of our faculty members, please read the following document:
Professors are often looking to have undergraduate students volunteer as research assistants in their research labs and this provide you with a valuable opportunity. These opportunities are most often extended to students with a CGPA of 7.0 (B+) or higher who are in their second or third year (i.e., have completed between 23 and 83 credits) and who are in the Specialized Honours program. The typical expectation is that you devote at least 5 hours a week to the position. Sometimes paid positions are or become available.
If you are interested in gaining research experience, you have 5 hours or more a week that you can devote to a volunteer research assistant position, and you have a CGPA of 7.0 (B+) or higher, it is recommended that you:
- Identify up to 6 full-time faculty members with whom you might like to workby taking a look through their research interests and papers. Be sure to look at their website to see if there is specific information about how to apply for a research position.
- Compose an email outlining (a) your interest in becoming a research assistant and how much time you can devote, (b) why you are interested in that faculty member's lab, (c) what you would bring to the position (highlighting a strong GPA and/or other experience or skills that you might have). Be sure to carefully proof-read each email. Do not send group emails, but instead try to tailor some of the content to each professor. Include your resume and unofficial transcript. If you do not hear back, do NOT be discouraged - professors are busy and receive many emails! Follow-up with another email 1-2 weeks later. If you still do not hear back, try a different lab, or try back again just before the start of the next term. After trying multiple times with a lab, it is likely that they are not looking for new research assistants at this time. Typically the best time to contact faculty members is just before the start of a new term. Professors are used to receiving these emails, so don't be shy - reach out.
- If you are not successful securing a position...try and try again, but strategically. If your GPA is lower than a 7.0, put more energy into improving your grades before looking for additional research experiences. Ask others (friends, family) to read your email and resume to make sure that there are no typos or grammatical errors, and that they are well-written. Consider attending a workshop at the career center.
- If you are successful in securing a position...this is your opportunity to make a favorable impression, so be sure to do your best. Great RAs will: take initiative, be on time/professional/detail oriented, offer to cover other people's shifts when needed, have a positive attitude towards whatever task they are asked to do, and work well both independently and with others. Even if you are working primarily with a lab manager or graduate student, be assured that they will share their impressions with the professor leading the lab.
Faculty research interests cover a broad range of theoretical and applied issues. Students interested in learning about the type of research conducted by faculty in the Department of Psychology can read through the following document:
Or you can visit the following sites:
- Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science
- Clinical / Developmental
- Developmental and Cognitive Processes
- History and Theory of Psychology
- Quantitative methods
- Social Psychology and Personality
Also of interest to students:
- Research Funding Opportunities for Students
- Undergraduate Research Participant Pool
- Research at York (RAY)
- Ethics Procedures for PSYC 4000 and 4001 FW14