McCormick students have the opportunity to participate in the kind of pioneering research that defines Northwestern University.McCormick students have the opportunity to participate in the kind of pioneering research that defines Northwestern University.

Undergraduate Research

In the Department of Computer Science at Northwestern University, undergraduate students have ample, rich, and varied opportunities for conducting practical research in labs alongside graduate students and faculty members.

This means that papers are being published with undergraduate students’ names on them, students are participating in research projects that result in conference papers being accepted, and students are finding out firsthand what life as a graduate student is like.

Research Track

In fall 2023, Northwestern Computer Science (CS) is launching a new research track designed to enable second-year students majoring in computer science to learn the fundamentals of academic research through a collaborative group project.

The research track program aims to provide undergraduate students with a structured and mentored research experience through the completion of two new courses — COMP_SCI 298: Introduction to Research Track and COMP_SCI 398: Research Track Practicum — and a project demonstration.

COMP_SCI 298: Introduction to Research Track

In fall 2023, the research track cohort will enroll in COMP_SCI 298, a new one-credit course designated as an unrestrictive elective. Led by a faculty adviser, the course will provide a foundational introduction to the research process. Students will be assigned to teams of four to five members based on research interests and experience from prior coursework. Teams will kick off their projects by conducting literature review, gathering data or resources, and gaining any project-specific skills. A CS faculty member will provide guidance and project mentorship.

COMP_SCI 398: Research Track Practicum

In winter 2024, the cohort will enroll in COMP_SCI 398, a one-credit course which can be counted either as a technical elective or a project course. Teams will continue progress on their research projects under the supervision of the faculty adviser and another CS faculty member. Teams will present their projects during a CS research showcase event in spring 2024.

The program application for fall 2023 enrollment is now closed.

Research Opportunities

The department maintains a list of research opportunities currently available to undergraduates. This list contains information about requirements for joining the lab and/or leading a project, as well as information on how to apply to join the lab. the list is updated periodically as research opportunities become available.

To learn more about the major research activities in the Department of Computer Science, you can also explore our various Research Areas:

For more information about research opportunities in the department, visit our groups and labs page and contact a professor with whom you would like to work.

Learn more about undergraduate research opportunities at McCormick

Research Pathways

Before joining a research lab you will need to build the background that is necessary for participating in the research of the lab. The most effective way to do so is through courses, which requires planning ahead what courses to take and when. The earliest you complete the series of courses that will give you a solid background for an area of research, the fastest you will be able to get involved in a research project and benefit from the research activity in the department.

To help you prepare for research, the department maintains a collection of accelerated course pathways. Each pathway targets a specific area of research and consists of one or two courses per quarter. Starting on a pathway during your freshman year will get your ready for a research project in the pathway's area during your sophomore year.

Undergraduate Thesis

Undergraduate students have the option to complete a senior thesis as a part of their undergraduate degree. The senior thesis is documentation of an attempt to contribute new knowledge to the general understanding of some problem of computer science.


Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplemental funding is available specifically for undergraduate researchers, and primary investigators routinely ask for this funding on National Science Foundation proposals.

In addition, undergraduate students can receive reimbursement for travel expenses to conferences when their papers are accepted.