I'm a undergraduate Physics student, and also doing double major on Mathematics.According to my plan, I will both do undergrad research on both physics and mathematics more than once.

What I am curious about is, whether doing more undergrad research in physics or mathematics affect my Phd admission,and if it is, in which way ? Of course, if I do some noticeable work on them, it will affect positively but what exactly I am asking is if all of the research will be on just "undergrad research" level?

  • 5
    In English, "research" is a collective/mass noun like "water" or "soccer" or "justice", not a countable noun like "paper" or "student" or "brick". You can't do a second research; you can only do more research. And this is a philosophical distinction, not just a grammar issue.
    – JeffE
    Jul 31, 2016 at 19:12
  • "Just 'undergraduate research' level" is misrepresentative. Many masters theses are not far beyond what's within reach of a motivated undergrad. Certainly you want to get strong results, but it's at least as important what impression you make on your research mentor, who will likely write a recommendation letter when you apply to grad school.
    – Dan C
    Aug 1, 2016 at 2:59
  • @JeffE The OP might be referring to an REU or similar as "a research" (not that this is correct of course). It does highlight how little such a research "experience" is really like doing research "for real". Aug 1, 2016 at 8:06
  • @JeffE what I had in my mind was, taking 2 different "Research course", since in order to do undergrad research, you must first enrol it as a course, at least in my university.Therefore, when I said "doing a second research", I meant enrolling that second course, but still thanks for clarifying.I will correct that part.
    – Our
    Aug 1, 2016 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


If you want to get a PhD, your goal as an undergrad (in addition to learning as much as you can) should be to show your professors (who will eventually write your recommendation letters) that you have the qualities needed to succeed in graduate school. These include, for example: curiosity, creativity, perseverance, a strong work ethic, and a solid grounding in the basics of the field (such as calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations, in mathematics).

What you don't want from a letter writer is something like: "Leth was in my class and got an A". What you do want is for your letter writers to each share different anecdotes where you clearly display these qualities needed for success in graduate school. One way to demonstrate these qualities is through a successful undergraduate research project. But undergraduate research is neither necessary nor sufficient. Two or three mediocre research projects is better than nothing, but not much. One strong project is much better than three weak ones. But there are other ways to impress your letter writers. Maybe you do an independent study and really work your butt off, showing that you know how to learn on your own and that you have the passion and desire to make it happen. Or maybe it's not even an independent study; maybe it's just a class project where you really deliver far more than what is required. Your goal should be to make your letter writers more than happy to have you as a graduate student, if you were to apply to do graduate work with them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .