Johns Hopkins University is a premier research institution, and ENVS majors make the most of their time here by completing an independent research project or equivalent scholarly endeavor under faculty supervision for their Senior Capstone Experience. Gaining research experience is especially important for students who are planning to attend graduate school. An independent research project helps students understand the research process through firsthand experience, narrow down their particular area of interest, and even identify suitable graduate programs.
Some ENVS students go on to do a second semester of senior thesis research to earn honors in the major. Others work for a faculty member at some point during their four years at JHU, helping out with various types of research projects and learning practical skills.
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 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 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. A helpful guide to advanced study and careers in STEM fields can be found at Pathways to Science.