Lab FAQs

Please read through the FAQs below to see if your specific question is answered before contacting an adviser or the Undergraduate Office at

I. Questions about Basic Lab Information and Requirements:

What is a lab course?

A lab course is an opportunity for undergraduates to gain research experience while earning course credit. Lab courses generally involve students working hands-on in a Harvard-affiliated research lab.

How is a lab course different than other psychology courses?

Lab courses follow a different format than typical, classroom-based courses. You will not be attending lectures and there is no final exam. In a typical lab course, you will be working in a faculty member's lab, assisting with research. Most labs will have you work set hours with a graduate student or other researcher, and many have lab meetings where you would be expected to discuss assigned readings or listen to (and possibly give) presentations about current research.

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Who is required to take a lab course?

All students writing a thesis must take a lab course, as well as students in the Cognitive Science (MBB) track, and the Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology (Life Sciences) track if in the Class of 2014 or earlier. Non-thesis students in the Class of 2015 or later can choose to take Psy 1901 OR a Lab Course to meet their Research Methods requirement. Click here to see the Class of 2015 requirements.

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II. Questions about Choosing a Lab and Enrolling in a Lab Course

How do I get involved in a lab?

For all lab courses, you must obtain permission and a signature from the instructor before you put it on your study card i.e. you cannot just shop these courses. It is best to get in touch with the professor and/or lab coordinator before the beginning of the semester, as most labs can only accommodate a limited number of research assistants.

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How do I know if I will like working in a lab?

If you want to see what it's like to work in the lab without making a semester-long commitment, you might start by volunteering in the lab for a few hours a week, or even just asking permission to sit in on a few discussion groups or lab meetings. Some labs are not able to accommodate this type of request, but will most likely be willing to meet with you and show you the lab.

What do I need to do to officially enroll in a lab course?

For specific lab courses, you can put the lab course on your study card once you have approval from the faculty and/or lab coordinator. If you are taking 910r, you will have to fill out an application, have it signed by the faculty member with whom you'll be completing the course, and then turn in to the Psychology Undergraduate Office (WJH 218). Study cards for 910r can be signed by the Undergraduate Office staff once your faculty supervisor signs the application.

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