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Research: Your First Two Years

First- or second-year students interested in English might begin with a First Year Seminar. These are taught by our best faculty. We offer several in the Fall semester and a few others in the Spring.

Nearly every English course offers either a research component or the potential to do research for a longer essay or creative project. These courses also can serve as building blocks for further research. The vast majority of students who undertake independent studies and research projects, after all, do so with a professor under whom they've already studied. You'll have additional opportunities to conduct research in the required Junior Research Seminar (English 4950-4998).

There also exist a wealth of research opportunities designed specifically for first- and second-year students. Some are special programs or internships, some offer research grants, or a combination of these. The most efficient way to find out what's available is to speak to your professors, and to reach out to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (call 215-746-6488 or write to for a research consultation appointment).


Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) grants, which offer first- and second-year undergraduates the opportunity to work as a research assistant for a Penn faculty member during the summer. PURM students receive a $3,500 stipend and valuable mentorship for working full-time for 10 weeks.

College of Arts and Sciences Summer Internships offer students firsthand experience working at local Arts organizations.

The University Scholars program provides ongoing support for students who intend to be significantly involved in research while at Penn and are planning a career in research and scholarship. The program is open to first- and second-year students engaged in a research project; juniors must speak with the University Scholars program Director no later than September 30 of the Fall of their junior year and apply by November 1.

English Undergraduate Research Grants offer students up to $500 to support costs associated with a specific research project.

First- and second-year students are also eligible for the Hassenfeld Foundation Social Impact Research Grant, which provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are undertaking innovative research or social entrepreneurship projects or internships with potential for real-world outcomes and significant social impact.

Penn Humanities Forum fellowships offer undergraduates funding coupled with the opportunity to engage with faculty and graduate students exploring projects on a related theme.

Finally, the College maintains a Finding Research Opportunities page that is well worth your time.