Carnegie Mellon University

Don't just learn from research,
learn to conduct it!

Research is an integral part of studying international relations, politics, and foreign affairs. In addition to research done in the regular course of study, the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology (CMIST) offers additional opportunities to conduct and publish research. 


Undergraduate Research for Credit

Are you interested in doing research for credit in the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology (CMIST) during the fall 2023 semester? Please find below a list of research topics with open positions. Research credit can range from 3-9 units. Please contact the CMIST professor directly to discuss the opportunity. Once you and the faculty member agree to work together, you will complete the research for credit formand the Deputy Director will register you for the course.

Research for Credit Form

Cybersecurity Data Collection

This project would involve locating the original text for a number of international discussions around cyber conflict. There are about 500 known discussions to locate. Once the text is located, mainly from publicly available online sources, and occasionally by contacting international organizations, the RA would help enter the text into an existing cyber norms dataset, helping to form one of the first complete pictures of how different countries have discussed cyber conflict challenges over time.

International Law/ Arms Control

This project will involve a quick survey of the top political science journals. The RA would compile a list of academic articles concerning international law and/or arms control. The main task would be to discern how different authors define (and measure) "compliance" with international obligations. The focus would primarily be on six journals (APSR, AJPS, JOP, IO, IS, and ISQ). The RA would help me compile a list of potentially useful keywords; search journals by keyword to obtain a sample of articles on the relevant topics; and help compile a dataset that summarizes article differences.

Conspiracy Hunting

This project involves doing a literature review on conspiracy theories during covid. Then coding approximately 2000 posts for whether they contain references to a conspiracy theory and whether it is supportive or not. Finally, to engage in generating some statistical results from this analysis. Then identifying associated BEND maneuvers. Students would work with our conspiracy team.

Backing and Neutralizing Opinion Leaders

The goal of this project is to assess and evaluate automated procedures for backing and neutralizing opinion leaders in social media. First a short literature review on what people say when when they are trying to support or not support an individual or group should be conducted. This is followed by reviewing the current vocabulary lists for backing and neutralizing and identifying any terms or phrases that need to be added. Then using a set of messages or posts or articles from a set of media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Telegram) take a set of posts and classify them as backing neutralizing or doing neither with respect to an opinion leader or group. The stretch goal would be to then write a machine learning algorithm to classify posts as backing, neutralizing or neither.

Law and Redistricting Analysis

Are you a passionate and driven undergraduate student with an interest in law and its intersection with political processes? I am seeking an Undergraduate Research Assistant for a project focused on tracking and briefing court cases related to redistricting. This opportunity will allow you to delve into the realms of constitutional law, political science, and social justice while contributing to meaningful research.

The project aims to comprehensively track and analyze court cases involving redistricting, encompassing both state and federal cases. As a Research Assistant, your primary responsibility will be to monitor court proceedings, rulings, and developments related to both racial and partisan gerrymandering. Additionally, you will investigate cases pertaining to violations of constitutional and statutory laws, offering a holistic view of the legal landscape surrounding redistricting.

Political Unrest

Professor Chin is seeking motivated research assistants for various political science research projects related to political unrest (i.e. coups, autogolpes, assassinations, mass uprisings). Two projects involve research, writing, and editing of event and leader entries for two Historical Dictionaries, one on assassinations and one on self-coups since World War II. Other projects with openings involve research and coding cross-national datasets of (1) types of ambiguous evidence in the Colpus coup dataset and uncertainties over what is a coup or (2) types of defections of security forces during mass uprisings against authoritarian regimes. No prior experience required.

Bureaucratic Recruitment in China

This project examines the recruitment of government bureaucrats in China via the National Civil Service Exam. On the supply side, we conduct an original survey that combines lab experiments and survey experiments to examine the motives of individuals to join the civil service, including pecuniary consideration, public service motive, and career aspiration. We also investigate how individuals’ inherent traits, such as talent, honesty, and altruism, may interact with their different motives to determine who wants to join the civil service. On the demand side, we assemble an original data set of listings of open positions in civil service over time and across provinces to examine why types of individuals the state seeks to recruit. The findings of this research would enhance our understanding on the bureaucratic capacity of the Chinese state and their implications for policymaking as well as implementation.

A research assistant would be a valuable addition to this project. The research assistant would be involved directly in the implementation of the project, including conducting a large survey, gathering and cleaning original data (both from survey and online sources), and data analysis to answer research questions. In the process, the research assistant would develop a set of robust research skills and an in-depth understanding of empirical research in social science.  

Dovish Reputation Theory: When Backing Down Makes Sense 

A fierce debate in international relations concerns the impact that past actions have on a state's future reputation/credibility and its ability to deter adversaries. The conventional wisdom is that backing down is always harmful for a state's reputation and thus states should be willing to absorb significant costs to avoid doing so. For example, this was the primary logic justifying the Vietnam War. Professor Schwartz is working on a book project that challenges this common view. He argue that choosing to fight rather than back down can sometimes backfire by making adversaries believe that a war-weary country is less likely to stand firm in the future. A RA may assist by researching new case studies, writing a literature review on how a country's regime type could impact his theory, and/or coding the level of war-weariness of countries following conflict.

Additional Student Research Resources

Dietrich College Senior Honors Program

Through the Dietrich College Senior Honors Program students complete an honors thesis and graduate with College Honors. For more information contact Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Joseph Devine.

Dietrich College Senior Honors Program

Through the Dietrich College Senior Honors Program students complete an honors thesis and graduate with College Honors. For more information contact Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Joseph Devine.

Meeting of the Minds

An annual undergraduate research symposium organized by the Undergraduate Research Office each spring. All students engaged in undergraduate research are encouraged to apply. 

Research Training for Undergraduates

Through this academic course, qualified first- and second-year students have the opportunity to work directly with a Dietrich faculty member on an ongoing research project. For more information contact Deputy Director Emily Half.


The Summer Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (SURA) course awards tuition-free elective credit to first-year and sophomore undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for existing faculty projects focused on undergraduate research or creative inquiry under the direction of a Carnegie Mellon faculty member.


Small Undergraduate Research Grants (SURG), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), and International Small Undergraduate Research Grants (ISURG) are ooffered by Carnegie Mellon University's Undergraduate Research Office, these grants and fellowships provide funding for undergraduate students to pursue research in any discipline.