What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students "learn by doing" and by reflecting on the experience. Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, practicums, field exercises, study abroad, undergraduate research, and studio performances.

Undergraduate research assistantships

Undergraduate research assistants (URAs) work with faculty members on mathematical research, curriculum development, data gathering, interdisciplinary work (connections of mathematics to other subjects), computer-based mathematical experimentations, development of web-based instructional materials, or other projects. An undergraduate research project is an ideal way to get to know faculty, explore your own interests, build your resume for work or grad school, give faculty a solid basis for writing letter of recommendation for you, and get an idea for an honors thesis project.

All URAs commit 10 hours per week for research activities and are encouraged to participate in such events as the annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, usually in April.

The stipend per semester is $1,500 for regular URAs in math for spring 2023. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of U.S. in order to apply for a regular URA.

All URAs are expected to:

  1. Attend undergraduate colloquia.
  2. Present research results at appropriate meetings; funds are available to support travel for these kind of activities.

Funding for the regular URAs comes from the University of Iowa. If you and a specific faculty member already have a project to propose, please include the specifics on the form. If you are interested but not yet partnered with a specific faculty member, we can help to identify potential faculty mentors. The regular URAs are not limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The following are required for the undergraduate research assistants:

  1. To be a full-time student at UI and working on UI campus for this URA
  2. To be a math major and have completed at least 30 semester hours of coursework
  3. To have completed Calculus 1-3, Linear Algebra, and at least one proofs course:
    • MATH:3720 or MATH:3770 or higher
  4. To have performed reasonably well in math and related courses: with both math grade-point average (GPA) and UI math GPA of at least 3.50.
  5. Preferably, having taken some upper level MATH courses.

The number of assistantships to be offered depends on the money available as well as the number of the excellent and qualified applicants. It has been getting competitive as interest in the program has grown, but there is no need to be intimidated by the selection process or the job.

If you are interested in an undergraduate research assistantship, you can print/download the form. Please send all of your application material to yangbo-ye@uiowa.edu in PDF or Microsoft Word files.

Please send your application and supporting documents as soon as possible, but no later than Monday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. We will start processing the applications soon after.

Important: Attach a copy (an unofficial one is acceptable) of your latest transcript to your application.

For more information about undergraduate RAs contact Yangbo Ye.

The Dewey Stuit Fund for Undergraduate Research

The Dewey Stuit Fund in Liberal Arts and Sciences is an endowed fund created by friends and former colleagues of the College's long-term former Dean, Professor Dewey Stuit (1948-1977). The purpose of the fund is to promote the development of mentor-protégé relationships between CLAS undergraduate students and CLAS faculty.

Get more information and apply

Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates

Learn more and review research positions

Undergraduate math competitions

Use your math skills to solve esoteric questions as well as practical problems, and win flowers and applause! Every year, UI Math Club organizes students to compete in math competitions of different levels (regional, national, and international). The following is a math competition we competed in the past:

Organized by the University of Iowa Department of Mathematics, Iowa Math Modeling Contest gave undergraduate students the opportunity to apply their math skills to real world problems. In teams of three, students had 23 hours to develop and test a model and write a one-page summary of their finds; an additional (24th) hour was available in order for teams to finalize a 10-minute presentation explaining their result. The event concluded with an award ceremony that highlighted the work of winning teams.

The Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition is a three-hour team competition administered by the Iowa Section of the Mathematics Association of America in late March or early April of each year.

The Math Club coordinates participation in this event. If you would like to participate in this event, please attend Math Club meetings or contact the Math Club.

Learn more

The Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) is a multi-day mathematics competition held annually, during the first or second weekend in February, since 1985 by COMAP and sponsored by SIAM, the NSA, and INFORMS. It is distinguished from other major mathematical competitions such as Putnam by its strong focus on research, originality, teamwork, communication and justification of results.

Learn more

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, often abbreviated to the Putnam Competition, is an annual mathematics competition for undergraduate college students of the United States and Canada, awarding scholarships and cash prize ranging from $250 to $2,500 for the top students and $5,000 to $25,000 for the top schools.

The competition was founded in 1927 by Elizabeth Lowell Putnam in memory of her husband William Lowell Putnam, who was an advocate of intercollegiate intellectual competition. The exam has been offered annually since 1928 and is administered by the Mathematical Association of America.

Learn more

UI Math Club

Are you a math major? Simply interested in mathematics? The goal of the Undergraduate Math Club is to promote the appreciation and enjoyment of math in a casual atmosphere. We meet once a week to eat pizza, discuss math, do puzzles, and socialize with like-minded people.

We participate in mathematics competitions, both regional and international, attend conferences, and hold social events for undergraduate math enthusiasts.

Faculty advisor

Portrait of Cynthia Farthing

Cynthia Farthing

Associate Professor of Instruction

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

- John Louis von Neumann

A story about Einstein

In 1931 Albert Einstein and his wife, Elsa, were touring the Mt. Wilson Observatory, at that time the observatory was the home of the world's largest telescope.

Someone in the entourage told Elsa the 100-inch Hooker reflecting telescope was used to determine the shape of the universe.

"Well," Elsa said, "my husband does that on the back of an old envelope."

"There are two ways to do great mathematics. The first is to be smarter than everybody else. The second way is to be stupider than everybody else–but persistent."

- Raoul Bott

Additional experiential learning opportunities

Association for Women in Mathematics

AWM Local Chapter

The Association for Women in Mathematics is an organization promoting diversity within the relating fields of mathematics. All majors and genders are welcome!

We have weekly meetings Mondays at 6 p.m. in the Muhly Lounge (3 MLH) to eat pizza, play math games, and meet other people interested in math! The goal of our local chapter is to empower women and create a sense of community.

Directed Reading Program

The Directed Reading Program is a program where undergraduate math students work with graduate math students in an independent study project.

Among other goals, this program seeks to involve undergraduates in the larger mathematical community, foster independent learning strategies, and develop mathematical communication skills.

University resources

Undergraduate research

Gain hands-on experience by participating in the research and creative discovery of faculty and staff.


Build on-the-job experience while connecting and networking with professionals in your field.

Study abroad

Enhance your degree, stand out to employers, shape your own perspective, and transform into a global citizen.

Community-engaged courses

Apply your academic skills and knowledge to help community partners solve real-world problems.