Undergraduate Research at SPA

faculty member instructing students

Research is an integral part of the American University and School of Public Affairs (SPA) undergraduate education. Students take a major-specific research methods course (GOVT-310, JLC-280, or JLC-281) designed to help them learn the critical skills and competencies of research, to put those skills into practice, and to take their research beyond the classroom by publishing or presenting their work. More than just a set of skills, though, research is a mindset. We are committed to supporting undergraduate research because learning how to conduct research empowers students to be critical consumers and producers of knowledge and equips them with the skills critical for success in future courses and careers.

SPA provides numerous opportunities for undergraduate students to hone, advance, and take their research beyond the classroom. Some key examples of this include, but are not limited to

The Public Affairs & Policy Lab (PAPL) - students have the opportunity to work one on one with a faculty member by serving as an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA) on some research project the faculty member is currently working on.

The annual SPA Undergraduate Research Symposium (UGRS) - every spring undergraduate students have the chance to present original scholarly research they have done and or are working on to the faculty and their peers in SPA.

National Conference on Undergraduate Research - every spring SPA fully funds a small group of students to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research so they can present their research to undergraduates from across the country.

Undergraduate Research Journal Clocks & Clouds - the undergraduate research journal focused on political science, international relations, and public policy is available for undergraduates to submit articles to possibly be published before graduating.

The undergraduate policy magazine focusing on analyses of pertinent topics such as foreign affairs, domestic politics, economics, military conflict, humanitarian crises, and political theory that is available for undergraduates to submit articles to possibly be published before graduating

The Peace & Violence Research Lab supports undergraduate and graduate research on topics related to peace and political violence. Students selected as fellows work with a faculty mentor who has similar research interests.

The School of Public Affairs is committed to supporting undergraduate research and offers a wide range of resources to support students in the conduct of research and in the presentation and publication of their research. The links to the left provide detailed information about these opportunities and resources for undergraduate research. If you have questions, you should speak with a faculty member or email aupublicaffairs@american.edu.

Justin Williams Associate Director, Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention

Justin is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Recruitment & Retention for the School of Public Affairs. In this role he meets with any prospective and admitted students interested in any of the un


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