Many students want to get credit for the research that they do. This page explains independent research study courses, non-credit bearing courses, best practices, and grading.


URES Research Courses

ICRU offers the following courses each semester, available for registration through MyUI. For credit-bearing courses, talk to your student about expectations for grading and semester hours before they register.

  • Note: According to University of Iowa Guidelines, 1 semester hour of credit is equal to approximately three hours of research work per week or 45 hours over the full 15-week semester. 

URES:3992 is a 0-semester hour course that is not graded.  *Primarily for transcript verification.* 
Students should register for this course if they:

  • Are paid.  (Students cannot receive course credit and payment for the same work.)
  • Are volunteering in a research position.
  • Do not want to accrue extra tuition costs or fees (i.e. Summer semesters).

URES:3993 is offered for 1-4 semester hours, graded pass/fail. Tuition/fees applicable where appropriate.

URES:3994 is offered for 1-4 semester hours, graded A-F. Tuition/fees applicable where appropriate.

More Information

ICRU holds no goals or expectations for this course other than to further a student's research understanding through honoring their time commitment. Any further goals or expectations are at the sole discretion of the instructor/mentor.

ICRU highly encourages mentors to begin each semester by meeting with their mentee to outline all goals and expectations. If a course is graded, the expectations for each grade should be clearly explained. A written contract between the mentor and mentee can serve as a mediator if any issues or confusion arise later in the semester. It can also be carried forward and revised from semester to semester.

Examples of topics to cover:

  • Time commitment (how many hours per week) and flexibility 
  • Preferred communication (lab notebooks, research group platforms, illness notifications, email)
  • Semester goals (learn a technique, get through a dataset, readings, independence)
  • Expected progression 
  • General lab etiquette 

Grading is entirely up to the instructor/mentor. ICRU does not have criteria other than the student showing up to put in their best effort. It is important for mentors to clearly discuss grading criteria with their mentees. Set up distinguishable features of what an A, B, C, etc, student does. ICRU recommends a written (typed) mentor-mentee agreement or syllabus that aligns both parties' expectations.

Routine feedback on performance is also beneficial for both mentor and mentee. This alleviates any anxieties mentees may feel about their progress or grade and allows the mentor to identify and resolve problems before they get too big. It also prevents discrepancies between mentor and mentee ideas of what a grade may be at the end of the term. We have found that properly aligned expectations and evaluations usually result in an A grade.

Mentor-Mentee Agreements or Pacts are commonly used tools in research settings. You can find many examples of these online and probably from colleagues. Some research groups use them as manuals and have them available for all members.

ICRU's Fellows and their mentors are asked to fill out THIS form.  

University Honors and Honors in the Major

University of Iowa Honors Program Courses.  UIHP students may register their work using through HONR:3994.  Please see the Honors Program website for information.

UIHP Experiential Learning Credit.  Research, registered or unregistered, can count toward UIHP Experiential Learning requirements. Please see the Honors Program website for information.

Honors in the Major Most departments have research courses available for majors within their department.  URES and HONR courses are not the same as departmental research courses.  Departments may or may not accept URES courses for Honors in the Major.  This needs to be verified with the major department BEFORE registration. 

Senior or Honors Thesis Project

A thesis or other senior project is an original contribution to inquiry or art.  Students choose a  topic of interest and conduct a small, independent research project or complete a creative piece. 

For students who wish to graduate with Honors in the Major (also known as Departmental Honors), many departments require a senior/honors thesis. Here are a few things that you need to know:

  • A student's thesis must be done under faculty supervision.
  • Thesis work often counts for 3-6 semester hours of  academic credit.
  • Projects usually take one to two semesters to design, complete, defend, and submit.  
  • Thesis are typically completed in the student’s junior or senior year.  

Students who are interested in Honors in the Major should contact their major department to find out more information.

University of Iowa Certificates

The University of Iowa offers a broad variety of Undergraduate Certificates, including those listed below. Have your student see whether a particular Certificate might benefit their career and academic goals. For a more complete list of certificates by college, visit the UIowa Admissions Webpage.

​Certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences

The Undergraduate Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) is a selective certificate program designed to complement mentored research.  CCTS strengthens  academic knowledge and interest in biomedical research or policy in areas like chemistry, biology, physiology, and health sciences. Visit the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science website for more information.

Certificate in Museum Studies

Students of all majors can benefit from earning a Museum Studies Certificate.  Courses introduce students to the spectrum of museum endeavors, from organization and mission planning to institutional histories and current developments within the field. The Museum Studies program offers courses that are of value to those pursuing museum-related careers, or those with a general interest in the arts, sciences, or humanities.

Certificate in Global Health Studies

A Certificate in Global Health Studies provides an introduction to an academic field experience that is often needed in order to be competitive for post-graduation opportunities. This program includes a final project and presentation, ultimately preparing students for advanced academic work and careers in global health.

Writing Certificate

Certificate students explore and develop their own writing skills in a wide range of genres and for varied purposes, including creative writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry); writing for the professions, such as the arts, business, journalism, or science; writing for organizations; and writing related to personal interests.