Undergraduate Research at Baylor
What resources does the College of Arts & Sciences offer first-year students and sophomores for research?
For students who are interested in research but who are not ready to design or conduct independent research, some of these options may be helpful:
(1) The three-hour First Year Seminars and Freshman Academic Seminars (FYS or FAS prefix) offer small group experiences, intense undergraduate research, and exciting methodologies. The materials are often drawn from a professor's area of research. Recent seminars include: "Writing about the Media," "Disease and the Patient-Physician Relationship," "Anthropology of the Supernatural," "Experience of Illness," "Faith and Reason," and "Terror and Political Violence." Freshman Academic Seminars (FAS) are open to first-year students. First Year Seminars (FYS) are open to students participating in the Honors program.
(2) One-thousand and two-thousand level "first experience in research" courses are offered in some departments and would be well worth your investigating. Consider these:
- Anthropology: ANT 2401-Methods of Archaeology. This course introduces students to field methods in contemporary archaeology.
- Biology: BIO 1405-Investigations of Modern Biology Concepts I and BIO 1406-Investigations of Modern Biology Concepts II. Professors select students who will be allowed to register for these courses in the major. As part of the first course (1405), students isolate and explore the genome of bacteriophages isolated from soil. In the second course (1406), students develop and address hypotheses about ecological endpoints at the Waco Wetlands. BIO 1V90-Individual Topics (the "V" indicates this course is offered with variable hours, meaning that you and the professor determine how many hours of credit the course will be worth, typically 1-3 hours). This course allows students to pursue directed reading and independent research under the guidance of a professor.
- Chemistry: CHE 1V98-Special Research Problems and 2V98-Extended Research Problems (the "V" indicates this course is offered with variable hours, meaning that you and the professor determine how many hours of credit the course will be worth, typically 1-3 hours). In this course students are able to conduct a research project under the guidance of a departmental professor. For every three hours of work per week in the laboratory, students can receive an hour of semester course credit. The course may be repeated.
- Communication Studies: CSS 1301-Fundamentals of Public Communication, 1302-Speech for Business and Professional Students, 1304-Agumentation, Discussion, and Debate, and 1305-Introduction to Communication Studies each integrates a research component into course content.
- English: ENG 1304-Thinking, Writing, and Research. This course, an anchor of the general studies core in the College, introduces students to the methods and practice of research at the university level. As such, its importance cannot be overstated.
- Environmental Studies: ENV 1305-Freshman Environmental Seminar. Introduces students to significant topics in the discipline and integrates critical inquiry, research, and problem-solving in the course.
- Family Consumer Science: FCS 2100 and 2200-Directed Study. These courses allow students to complete independent study and research at the 2000-level in a topic germane to family and consumer science.
- Geology: GEO 1V90-Special Problems (the "V" indicates this course is offered with variable hours, meaning that you and the professor determine how many hours of credit the course will be worth, typically 1-3 hours). The current understanding of the earth as studied in a lab setting through group experimentation and projects.
- History: HIS 2395-Historiography. This course in the historical thought and historiographical practice of the West from their emergence in the classical world to the present introduces students to the textual research essential to this discipline.
- Mathematics: MTH 2V90-Introduction to Research in Mathematics (the "V" indicates this course is offered with variable hours, meaning that you and the professor determine how many hours of credit the course will be worth, typically 1-3 hours). This course allows students to research topics not available in other courses.
- Psychology: PSY 2405-Research Methods in Psychology.
- Religion: REL 1241-Exploring Christian Narratives: From Eden to Modernity IV. Independent study on one of the topics covered in one of the other courses in this four-part series.
(3) Independent research within a department program or within an organization in the major (i.e., an academic honor society or academic club) is always an exciting option.
(4) Undergraduate research grants for independent projects under the supervision of a faculty member are available through some departments and the URSA program. On the left, you will see a link to the URSA homepage.
What research opportunities are available to advanced undergraduates?
(1) Most departments integrate substantial research into their upper-level courses whether that research occurs through course papers, presentations, fieldwork, or lab work. That said, many departments offer variable hour, independent studies courses that provide robust research problems for independent investigation between a faculty member and an undergraduate at the junior-senior level. The "V" in the course number indicates that a course is offered with variable hours, meaning that you and the professor determine how many hours of credit the course will be worth, typically 1-3 hours. For example, Biology 3V90-Individual Topics allows students to complete independent study, research, directed reading, supervised library, laboratory, or fieldwork. Departments also offer courses at the upper-level that intensely focus on research, such as Neuroscience 4371-Advanced Research in Neuroscience, which places students under the close mentoring of a professor as they conduct a sustained, in-depth project.
(2) Students eager for intentional, sustained research can apply for admission to the Honors program as juniors; application requires a 3.5 overall grade point average and the recommendation of your major department. As an upper-division Honors student, you will complete "Honors Colloquium," a two-hour course in which you meet in small, informal groups throughout the semester to discuss significant books and issues in various academics disciplines. You will also select three junior or senior-level courses to complete as Honors courses by contracting with faculty members to pursue advanced study in each course. You will also take two hours of "Advanced Readings" and under the guidance of your faculty mentor define the focus and parameters of your Honors thesis. This thesis, the culmination of Baylor's Honors program, will mature you as a critical thinker, writer, and researcher. Access the program website here and abstracts of this and past years' Honors theses here.