Undergraduate Research

The Department of Geography encourages interested undergraduate students in our Geography and GIST degree programs to become involved in research. To see the kinds of research our geography faculty experts are involved in, see the Research section of our website as well as the Faculty Profiles. Research is an ideal opportunity to obtain an advanced, high-impact experience that applies your classroom skills and knowledge to the subfield of geography that interests you the most. If you discover a passion for research, you may also consider becoming an Undergraduate Research Scholar and applying your research experience to an undergraduate thesis in geography. There are two ways to obtain course credit for advanced study and research experience: directed studies, or research.

GEOG 485 Directed Studies

This option is intended as individually supervised research and advanced, intensive study on topics that are currently not covered in regular courses. As such, a directed studies course should be like a regular course, with the appropriate number of hours of formalized instruction and out-of-class work each week. Depending on the anticipated amount of work, you and the instructor of record can select 1–4 credit hours (see below[1]) for a directed studies course. This work, along with all other requirements, must be detailed in a course syllabus that meets the Texas A&M University minimum course syllabus requirements (see Office of the Registrar). GEOG 485 courses are graded, and all assignments and other grading expectations must be clearly defined in the syllabus. GEOG 485 courses are subject to department head approval.

GEOG 491 Research

This option is intended for research conducted under the direction of a faculty member in geography. A wide range of research involvement is possible such as contributing to ongoing faculty research projects, field work, laboratory work, or conducting your own independent research project. While you can only receive course credit (up to 4 hours in one semester) for GEOG 491 twice, you can enroll in 0 hours of GEOG 491 as many times as you like. When you do enroll for credit, GEOG 491 cannot be taken for a grade and the only available grading option is satisfactory/unsatisfactory. While a syllabus is not required for GEOG 491, it is nonetheless strongly recommended and you must meet with the faculty member to clearly establish all expectations, requirements, and deliverables for the semester.

Additionally, please be aware that you can only use a total of 12 hours combined of GEOG 484 Internship, 485 Directed Studies, and 491 Research to count toward your GEOG or GIST degree.


[1]Per university rule 11.03.99.M1 and in accordance with federal Program Integrity Regulations and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Rules, the following definitions apply for each credit hour:

(1) One hour of formalized instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or

(2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in item (1) of this definition for other academic activities leading to the award of semester credit hours.

One hour is defined as a minimum of 50 minutes per week.

Formalized instruction includes any combination of the following: classroom instruction through lecture, discussion, or instructor-guided activity