VIP Students

What is a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP)?

These projects are vertically integrated, which means that each team has a faculty mentor, graduate student researchers, and undergraduates from freshmen to seniors. The more senior members of the team (faculty, graduate students, upper-division undergraduates) mentor the more junior members of the team.

Each project team has 10 to 20 undergraduates each semester, and are based on an externally funded research topic. This means that VIP teams are working on real research topics that have relevance to society.

Why join a VIP team?

There are many reasons to work on a VIP team. Here are just a few:

  • Learn about research: what is involved? Do you enjoy research?
  • Work in a team learning environment: work in an environment that is similar to the way many companies operate, and that is conducive to learning.
  • Workforce training: learn skills that will make you valuable to employers, including team management, making presentations, and creating reports.
  • Develop expertise in a particular area: students work on a VIP team over several semesters, and thus develop expertise in this area, beyond what is typically expected of undergraduate students.
  • Strengthen your résumé: this experience will make you more attractive to employers and/or graduate programs.
  • Work closely with graduate students and faculty: develop professional relationships that may be otherwise hard to cultivate (makes it easier to get good letters of recommendation).

If you are interested in students' perspectives on the VIP program, please view our VIP Success Stories.

What is expected of a VIP student?

All VIP students should:

  • Be motivated and excited by their project topic.
  • Commit to working on their VIP team for 2 years (1 semester as sophomore, 1 semester as junior, 2 semesters as senior).
  • Exhibit good teamwork and work ethic.
  • Earn academic credit for their participation on a team.


For prospective students interested in joining a VIP team.