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students at work

How VIP Works

Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) is a multidisciplinary, team-based learning model designed to transform higher by engaging undergraduates in faculty-led research project teams. 

The Structure 

In VIP programs, undergraduate students - from various academic years and disciplines -  work with faculty and their graduate students on ambitious, long-term, large-scale research projects. Structured as semester-long courses, VIP operates like lab groups or think-tanks rather than the traditional lecturer-class model, giving students direct involvement in the research and innovation process while they earn academic credit. Faculty and graduate students benefit from the design and discovery efforts of their teams, deepening the scope and scale of their individual academic research. 

Together, students and faculty apply their knowledge and insights to the world's most challenging unsolved problems. Teams can run for a single semester or for several years – some VIP teams have been in operation for over two decades. 

student leaders

VIP Programs Drive Innovation in the Learning Environment with Proven Components that Boost Student Success

faculty     Faculty- Led, Team-Based Projects

Faculty create projects around their own scholarly interests, bringing expertise and enthusiasm to each team. The VIP structure is uniquely designed to advance faculty scholarship and research, and graduate student work, while emphasizing undergraduate learning.



faculty led
collaborate     Collaboration & Mentorship

The long-term nature of VIP creates a unique environment of mentorship: faculty and graduate students mentor teams, experienced students mentor new members, and students move into leadership positions as others graduate. Subsequently, students develop leadership and collaboration skills.

participation    Active Participation

Interested students may join VIP teams and earn credits per semester starting their sophomore year. Students are eligible to participate in the same team throughout the rest of their academic careers. This extended timeline provides the time and context for students to: 

  • gain deeper insights into their field of study;
  • learn and practice professional and research skills;
  • make substantial contributions to real-world projects; and
  • experience different roles on large, multi-disciplinary teams.
students at work
investment    Mutual Investment

Students share in any intellectual property that results from their work on VIP projects, fueling interest in entrepreneurship. Many teams also have external community, industry, and government partners.                              


See how this unique structure produces all types of VIP Teams by exploring our VIP Sites page.