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Research Opportunities


Research is an integral part of academic life at USC Dornsife, and students are encouraged to engage in research at every stage of their academic careers.
Students are encouraged to get to know their professors and become involved as members of their research teams.  Imagine investigating the processes through which babies acquire language, conducting peace & conflict research through interviews with survivors of genocide and civil war, or analyzing online economies and applying game theory to the new online digital universe.
This is what makes USC a premiere research institution: USC Dornsife faculty are actively engaged in groundbreaking research, and undergraduate students are working every day alongside many of our most renowned scholars.
If you have an idea for an original research project, there are many different avenues to pursue your own research-related ambition.  Students can pursue directed research under a faculty member for class credit or receive funds through the SOAR and SURF programs to support your research.  Past projects have involved the effect of music therapy on medical treatment and the effectiveness of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the developing economy of Uganda.  What will you come up with?  We can’t wait to find out.



Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR)

The Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program provides USC Dornsife students up to $1,000 of financial support for non-course related research activities during the fall or spring semester.  Students submit a research plan and a proposed budget with their application; funding can be used to prove financial support, allowing you to purchase equipment or undertake project-related travel.

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Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF)

Looking for a stimulating way to spend your summer vacation- something unique and academically challenging?  Consider doing research funded through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF)!
USC Dornsife students may receive up to $3,000 to support a summer research project under the supervision of a USC faculty member.  The stipend may be used to pay for travel, equipment, living expenses, or other fees related to the research effort.  It may be used towards research conducted with a faculty member, an independent research project, or participating in a Problems Without Passports (PWP).  The summer of a lifetime is awaiting you.

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Problems without Passports (PWP)

An informed global citizen knows that many of the problems plaguing our society – such as AIDS and climate change – are actually issues affecting others on a worldwide scale.  Through our innovative Problems Without Passports (PWP) program, USC Dornsife students are able to study a global issue and travel to conduct research on the issue in another area of the world.
Students have already investigated how climate change may have affected the fall of the ancient Mayan empire and interviewed leaders in Washington, D.C. about the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. USC Dornsife students can also receive financial support for PWP through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF).  What global issue do you want to examine?  We’d like to help you explore it.

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