Undergraduate Research


The Jackson School is buzzing with cutting edge Earth Science research. As an undergraduate, you are invited to become part of the work that changes the way we think about our planet.

Whether you’d like to follow your own curiosity or join an existing project, there are many ways to get involved. Conducting research as an undergraduate is a great way to learn new skills, explore your curiosity, and join a community of researchers to learn about how science is done.

The earlier you start the better! There are research opportunities available for students at all level, from freshman through to senior year. Follow the links in the menu (to your right to find out more →), or fill out an Undergraduate Research Interest Form.

For a broad guide to undergraduate research, check out this Nature article.

Conducting independent research for course credit

You can arrange to conduct a research project for course credit. The first step is getting in touch with a researcher within the Jackson School (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Bureau of Economic Geology, or University of Texas Institute for Geophysics) or across campus. You arrange with the researcher how you will earn the credit.

Completing an undergraduate thesis

The Jackson School offers programs where you perform research and write a thesis:

If you want to complete a thesis, but are not enrolled in these programs, you can still conduct and write-up independent research, but not technically complete a thesis. Consider taking Curiosity to Question, or contacting potential research supervisors to discuss this.

Participating in research

Sometimes, there are opportunities where you can contribute to ongoing research at the Jackson School to gain exposure to field or lab methods. In cases where field work is involved, you are expected to contribute to field work but your room, board and travel are paid for. To learn how research opportunities, browse our Current Research Opportunities as well as the Research Overview at the bottom of the webpage.

Don’t forget, Research Friday means you can dedicate every Friday to conducting or learning about research.

In some cases, you can get paid to work in a lab on campus or to conduct research at the Jackson School. You can also be paid for research you do through an NSF REU with researchers outside of the university.

Summer research

There are different types of summer research experiences with different degrees of formality.

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program. The NSF funds and provides information about many summer research experiences through the REU Sites program. The programs take place during the summer months and can be at a location in the US or internationally. Applications must be made through the host institution. Stipends are available.

Conducting research within Jackson School courses

Some courses at EPS emphasize research methods and research design:

  • Curiosity to Question
  • Proposal Writing (GEO 191)

Many more courses include significant independent projects as part of the coursework: