Explore UMass Boston’s Research Opportunities for International Students

University of Massachusetts Boston
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By Selene Angier
Last updated on August 9, 2023

In 2019, UMass Boston received more than $60 million to fund cutting-edge research. If you are an international student hoping to come to the US for research, UMass Boston offers resources and opportunity.

University of Massachusetts Boston

Two female international students wearing lab coats and goggles work on research at a lab at UMass Boston.

Cybersecurity, electrical engineering, cancer therapies, climate change, early childhood intervention — whatever your career path, UMass Boston has a research opportunity to match. 

As one of the top public universities in the US, UMass Boston is known for its commitment to research and innovation in engineering, life sciences, education, finance, and technology.

In 2019, UMass Boston was awarded $62 million in research funding, as part of the school system’s total $684 million, across 50 research centers, programs, and consortiums. Private company and industry investments are close to $1 billion. As the number-three most diverse university in the US (USA Today, 2020), the oceanfront university is also an ideal community for international students who want to study in the USA and make lasting friendships with a global cohort. 

Maybe you or one of those new best friends will become a household name, like the UMass Boston alumni who have launched famous brands you know and use regularly, including Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, KAYAK co-founder Paul English, fashion designer Joseph Abboud, and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. Other highly lauded UMass Boston graduates include Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Roderick MacKinnon, former Environmental Protection Agency executive Gina McCarthy, and Nova Spivack, an early web entrepreneur and venture capitalist.

Big Ideas Start at UMass Boston 

At UMass Boston, undergraduate and graduate students are strongly encouraged to contribute to the university’s growing body of research. In 2020 alone, student-led research has looked at PTSD, anxiety, traffic fatalities, and (not kidding) K-POP.  

Department faculty provide guidance on research opportunities, and students have access to dozens of research projects and consortia on campus, including groups like the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), a STEM mentoring program funded by the National Institutes of Health. 

Former IMSD fellow and UMass graduate Leslie Torres  credits the program with making long-standing friendships and invaluable connections with staff advisors. “As an immigrant, [I found] the mentorship, support, and guidance I have received through IMSD helped me develop a sense of belonging and community in science that I had not found before,” she told the school’s Research Magazine.

Diverse Research Opportunities at UMass Boston

As the capital of Massachusetts, Boston is a world-renowned city with a reputation for having many good jobs and top employers, thanks to the area’s 30-plus universities, leading health care brands, international banks, tech start-ups, and research firms. This well-connected location positions UMass Boston students for successful outcomes in research, internships, and leadership positions. 

Read on for more ongoing research projects and opportunities available at UMass Boston.  

Engineering and Sustainability

From large scale transit projects like the Big Dig to pharmaceutical companies with a global reach, the Boston area is ripe with engineering job opportunities upon graduation. The genome code was cracked just miles away at the Broad Institute, and the 120-acre UMass Boston campus is set right on Boston Harbor, making it an ideal location for marine biology or environmental studies. 

Here are just a few of the engineering-related research efforts taking place at UMass Boston: 

  • Quantum electronics and nano device research initiatives, headed by engineering professors Matthew Bell and Walter Buchwald.

  • Sustainable Seafood Collaboratory, led by School for the Environment professor Robyn Hannigan, studying the impact of climate change on aquaculture practices at Massachusetts’ fishing grounds.

  • Cy-Phy Lab, focusing on multidimensional embedded and networked computing systems.

  • Nantucket Field Station, hosting various student-run research projects, including the impact of microplastics, tick-born diseases, and water testing standards.

  • Artificial Intelligence Lab, under director Ping Chen of the College of Science and Mathematics, exploring topics like natural language processing and micro-navigation.

Computer Science and Information Technology

Ever dream of working at Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Akamai? They all have major offices in the Boston area. UMass Boston’s dedication to computer science and IT research and leadership opportunities can give you a head start on your experience, such as:

  • National Science Foundation grants to help fund research on advanced machine learning techniques, informatics tools for species identification, and autonomous vehicles.

  • Mobile Security and Privacy Research Lab, led by director Xiaohui Liang, to develop usable security and privacy for mobile devices and IoT (the internet of things).

  • Data Mining Group, to focus on efficient and high-quality algorithms to mine datasets for hidden patterns.

Medical, Health Care, and Life Sciences

The Boston area is home to major pharmaceutical companies, research firms, and 12 teaching and research hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital, the number-six best hospital in the US (U.S. News & World Report, 2020). Current UMass Boston-associated health research projects include:

International, Gender, and Cultural studies

As one of the most diverse campuses in the US, UMass Boston places a strong emphasis on cross-cultural research and international studies. Gender- and people-of-color-related groups supporting student-led projects include:

Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economics

Planning a future profession in marketing, finance, or economic policy? UMass Boston provides ample hands-on opportunities for business majors too. The historical city is home to global finance firms, hundreds of tech start-ups, and 12 Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Biogen, Raytheon, Wayfair, and State Street Bank. UMass Boston business-related opportunities include:

  • Venture Development Center, a technology and life sciences startup incubator, known for career mentorship, project resources, and scholarships for entrepreneurial students.

  • Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, enabling hands-on experience for students to create their own companies.

  • Access to economics department faculty who lead a wide range of study topics, including socio-economic inequality, paid family leave, energy policy, farmer technical efficiency, and more.

“As a public land-grant university, UMass has a deeper responsibility to support the Commonwealth, its citizens, and its economy,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “A strong and diverse research ecosystem is central to our innovation economy and UMass is positioned to play a leading role in driving our economic recovery.”

 Are you ready to be a part of that innovation? Read more about UMass Boston >