The Goodwin-Niering Center actively strives to increase the availability of research opportunities for students. Since the Center's establishment, over 250 student research projects on environmental topics have been completed, including both undergraduate and graduate, individual, summer and honor studies.

The Center particularly emphasizes the importance of long-term ecological research, such as the projects conducted in Arboretum natural areas involving students in forest vegetation and animal inventory and analysis. At least 25 courses regularly use the Arboretum. Students doing individual studies or honors and masters theses commonly use the Arboretum as a field site for research.