BYU logo Computer Science
Early Research Scholars Program

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I apply to ERSP?

ERSP applications open in late Winter or early Spring.

2. I am not a CS major, can I still apply?

Yes! Preference is given to students in the CS department, taking any of the majors offered in the department (CS majors or emphases, the Machine Learning major). But students in other departments that have a related major are welcome to apply, especially if you have a CS minor. Please complete the last question in the application which explains why we should make an exception in your case.

3. I have taken one (or two) upper division courses. Am I still eligible for ERSP?

Maybe. We encourage you to apply, and ask that you complete the last essay on the application explaining why you should be considered even though you are already into upper division coursework.

4. I am a transfer student. Am I still eligible to apply to ERSP?

Yes! Transfer students who are starting their first semester at BYU in the Fall and have not yet taken any upper division CS courses can apply. If you are a transfer student but you have taken one or two upper division courses, you are still able to apply, but you should fill out the last essay question on the application.

5. What is the ERSP program like?

ERSP is an academic-year, group-based research apprenticeship experience. Students are grouped into teams of ~4 students and matched with a faculty advisor. In the first semester, students take CS 301R: Introduction to Computer Science Research, which helps them learn the skills and knowledge needed to begin their research project. They also meet weekly with their research advisors and their groups. In the second semester, students register for 3 credits of CS 497R while they carry out their proposed research project. Students continue to meet weekly with their research mentor, and also meet weekly with an ERSP central mentor and a grad student mentor to support them in their work. All work is done as a team.

6. What credit will I get for participating in ERSP?

CS students who participate in ERSP receive credit that counts toward their CS major as elective credit. If you are in a major that does not have sufficient elective credit, or you have a special situation, talk to an undergraduate advisor to see what works in your case.

7. Will I get paid?

Students are not paid during the academic year, but some ERSP students may continue research with their group for pay during the summer after their ERSP experience. Talk to the advisor for the research group you join to see if this is a possibility.

8. How are the research topics assigned?

After you are accepted into the program, in late summer (usually early September) you will receive a list of descriptions of available projects for the upcoming year. You will be asked to express your interest in each (high, medium or low), your confidence in your ability to learn the skills required for each, and to give your schedule availability. We match students to projects and groups based on interest and schedule compatibility. We encourage students to be open-minded about their interests. Since you may not know what any of the projects are about, it’s hard to really know what you might find interesting. Sometimes you will be surprised!