I am an American citizen but I am doing my undegraduate studies in math/physics in Europe. I am looking for a way to get some research experience this summer. My ultimate goal is to return to the US for graduate studies in physics, and it appears that research experience is a de facto requirement for admission to top programs.

It seems that in Europe summer research programs are not as popular as in the US, where the NSF funds the well-known REU program.

Unfortunately, the acadameic year at my school ends well after most REU programs begin. My school also does not offer research opportunites until the 3rd year, after the grad school application deadlines.

Are there any other options someone in my position might explore?

  • 1
    REU programs have discretion to change the program dates to suit you. Ask them if they are willing. Also, ask around your university for local opportunities. More research experience is better - you can do some locally and some elsewhere. Feb 20, 2019 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


Are there any opportunities at your European school? During the year or during summer? Funded or unfunded?

You really don't need to do groundbreaking research as an undergrad. Just doing something (some exposure) is plenty. Your grades and scores are much more critical. FWIW, I didn't have any research as I was working and playing a sport. Schools were fine with that.

When you get to grad school, there will be plenty of time to dive deep into research and to distinguish yourself by how well you do at it.

  • As I mentioned in the OP, my school has a research internship (lasting 4-5 months, funded) but this begins only after grad school application deadlines. It seems like at the top grad 10 schools in math/physics, undergrad research experience is a de facto requirement.
    – math_lover
    Jan 21, 2019 at 7:56
  • Yeah, I would try to do something. But why wait for some specific named, funded program that is formalized and where they take care of you. Just find someone that will put you in the lab (go and talk to profs or grad students, network). Maybe be a little flexible and make it more applied than super theoretical if that is easier to be useful there. Go grind some HTSC powders or push some Si wafers or whatever.
    – guest
    Jan 21, 2019 at 8:04

If you don't mind going somewhere other than your own institute, try iaeste (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, iaeste.org). My old research group took a couple of students every summer, they got to take part in interesting projects.

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