Johns Hopkins University is a premier research institution, and gaining research experience is especially important for undergraduates who are considering attending graduate school. Completing an independent research project helps students to understand the research process through firsthand experience, narrow down their particular area of interest, and even identify suitable graduate programs.

Research experiences can take many forms. Some students do research with faculty during the summer for pay, and others do it in the fall or spring terms, usually for credit. Some sign up for 1-3 independent research credits with a faculty advisor for a single semester, and others choose to pursue a two-semester senior honors thesis. ENVS students who meet the GPA requirement, develop a senior thesis proposal, and complete six credits of senior thesis research earn honors in the major.

ENVS students can obtain university credit for independent 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 their 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 support for travel and housing. Other federal agencies also offer summer research/internship experiences and financial support, such as NOAA’s undergraduate scholarship programs. A helpful guide to advanced study and careers in STEM fields can be found at Pathways to Science.