Johns Hopkins University is a premier research institution, and GECS majors are encouraged to take advantage of their time here by completing an independent research project under faculty supervision. Gaining research experience is especially important for students who are planning to attend graduate school. An independent research project can help students understand the research process through firsthand experience, narrow down their particular area of interest, and identify suitable graduate programs and advisers. A two-semester senior thesis, which includes a paper and a public talk to present the results, is also particularly good preparation for graduate school.
GECS students can obtain university credit for independent research and senior thesis research during one or more semesters. Usually this is done in the junior and/or senior years after a suitable amount of preparatory coursework has been completed, but sometimes the work is completed during the summer. Most students who undertake research projects independently seek out a suitable professor to work with based on his or her research interests, but sometimes a faculty member will advertise the need for an undergraduate assistant. Often those opportunities lead to an independent project.
In addition to doing research with JHU faculty, interested students can pursue research opportunities outside of the university. The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates program attracts participation from a wide array of universities across the country. Students work with researchers from the host institution during the summer and are awarded a stipend and, in many cases, support for travel and housing. A list of additional undergraduate research opportunities in a variety of disciplines can be found at the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research.