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Undergraduate Research Program

Research — It's not just for graduate students!

At Virginia Wesleyan College, students engage in research! Every year approximately 100 students (about 1 student in 12) undertake the challenging task of producing original research. Student researchers are active collecting samples, visiting archives, conducting surveys and experiments, poring over texts, running code, and writing. They emerge from this quest not only with papers, posters, and presentations, but also with new knowledge and a deeper understanding of their fields.

Virginia Wesleyan student-researchers have tackled a variety of topics, including:

At Virginia Wesleyan College, students from all across the disciplines engage in independent research. From Criminal Justice to Religious Studies, most academic departments provide research opportunities. Majors such as Biology, English, History, Political Science, and Psychology require students to conduct research as the capstone experience of the program. In addition, students aiming to graduate summa cum laude complete research projects as part of the Latin Honors requirement. All along the way, every student-researcher is supported and guided by a dedicated faculty mentor.

Virginia Wesleyan College offers state-of-the-art scientific laboratory facilities, including a variable-pressure scanning electron microscope (SEM) and a research vessel, the Ocean Explorer, that explores Hampton Roads' many waterways. The social science lab functions as a research space for students conducting a variety of social science projects. It provides access to secure rooms for interviews with participants and confidential data collection, an open format with multiple tables for group-based studies, and a computer lab for the supervision of online research with participants. In our social science laboratory, we also provide dedicated computers for running statistical programs (SPSS). The newly-renovated Hofheimer Library contains over 180,000 print and electronic books, and it provides access to over 35,000 electronic journals as well as a host of other research materials through its interlibrary loan service. The library features a professional staff that is willing to assist student-researchers in locating and accessing materials.

Student research is also financially supported by the Undergraduate Research Program. Student-researchers compete for grants to cover research expenses and to fund attendance at regional, national, and international conferences.

In most instances, students who undertake original research present their findings at VWC's own Undergraduate Research Symposium. Many also give presentations and posters at professional academic conferences. In addition, some students collaborate with faculty and publish and present academic papers together.

The highlight of Virginia Wesleyan's Undergraduate Research Program is our annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The Symposium crowns the academic year by showcasing the best student research in a series of events during the final week of the academic year. Students compete to be the top scholar in each academic division and to win cash prizes that recognize outstanding research.

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