FAQs


Applying to URS

The Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) thesis is a professional document that reflects the culmination of an individual student’s or team of student’s novel and unique research project. URS theses are published in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Capstone Collection of Texas A&M University’s OAKTrust Digital Repository.

There are seven URS thesis templates to choose from depending on the norms of research in a student’s research discipline. Students should discuss the appropriate template to use with their faculty advisor and download the template that is right for them from the URS Resources webpage.

Due to COVID-19, students are required to apply with a contingency plan that describes how the URS project will be completed if they are unable to follow the scope of the original project proposal. The purpose of this contingency plan is to help students complete the URS thesis program on time and to fulfill graduation or other program requirements, such as Honors.

Depending on the project, this contingency plan could address, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Lack of physical access to research space, data, or other resources
  • Limited and/or restricted travel
  • Inability to hold in-person meetings
  • Partial or incomplete data, trials, experiments, reviews, analyses, design, etc.
  • Virtual project completion if moved fully online

Students must give a detailed description of a contingency plan that will guide them as they plan ahead for potential disruptions and/or unanticipated impacts of COVID-19 on their URS thesis.

Beginning 2020-2021, students who are unable to complete research in traditional face-to-face settings* OR have other limitations may consider the NEW Journal Style Thesis that is available. This may apply to students who are:

  • Limited by COVID-19-related restrictions and/or disruptions
  • Unable to do in-person research
  • Lacking funding for their research project
  • Limited by travel restrictions
  • Limited by timeframe to conduct a full-scale research project
  • Conducting an interdisciplinary project where they lack a team member with a particular skill or a lab environment with access to particular equipment
*Note: Due to COVID-19, some students and/or faculty may need or choose to conduct research virtually.
Additional Notes:

Undergraduate students can apply as an individual or a team. See the question “Can I apply with my research team?” for team requirements.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be actively involved in an independent undergraduate research project throughout both the fall and spring semesters under the mentorship of a Texas A&M faculty member
  • Must be enrolled at Texas A&M as an undergraduate during both the fall and spring semesters of the program cycle
  • Have completed at least 60 credit hours (junior status) of undergraduate course work
  • Have at least 24 credit hours at Texas A&M University (at least 12 hours for transfer students)
  • Have and maintain a cumulative GPR of at least 3.0

Students should apply early as possible. The URS application is open between June and September each year.

Students must consult faculty advisors to determine whether or not compliance approval and/or training is required for their URS projects. Students who need research compliance approval must be cleared by the appropriate committee(s) in the Research Compliance & Biosafety (RCB) office. Students are not permitted to collect any data until required research compliance approval has been received and/or required training has been completed.

Be aware that students who need to register for research courses associated with their URS projects are still subject to the Registrar’s course registration calendar. Students should submit applications with plenty of time for processing and review before notification of acceptance. Submit applications as early as possible and consult the Registrar’s academic calendar when applying.

Yes.

Teams can be 2-5 students working on a common thesis document under the same Texas A&M faculty advisor, but each member must be responsible for individual contributions to the project. It is expected that team members have equal writing responsibilities.

Each team member is required to submit applications, progress reports, public presentations, presentation reports, and final thesis submissions. Teams should divide up responsibilities and designate the percentage of expected contributions for each member.

Teams must select one member as the Primary Contact. This member will be the primary point of contact for all submissions and correspondence in the URS thesis program.

No. The URS thesis program spans a full academic year and students must be actively involved during the fall and spring semesters (in that order). Students must be enrolled as undergraduates for both the fall and spring semesters of the program.

Yes. However, students are still subject to all program and submission deadlines, and must meet all mandatory event requirements. Also, before leaving, students must make sure that they have access to all equipment and materials they will need to complete their thesis.

Extensions will not be granted if students do not have access to all necessary materials for their research (i.e., lab spaces, libraries, archives, books, computer and Internet access, etc.).

Additionally, students must also make sure that their Texas A&M faculty advisor is aware of their travel plans and they must maintain regular communication while traveling.

Yes. Students participating in the Aggie Research Program (ARP) can also participate in the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) thesis program at the same time if the faculty advisor is willing to support the interested students through both programs.

The URS thesis program accepts team applications; however, all team members may not be eligible for the URS thesis program. If teammates cannot participate or do not want to participate in the URS thesis program, they can still remain on the ARP project. We recommend that ARP students interested in the URS thesis program communicate with their teammates and faculty advisor clearly so everyone understands who is participating in the URS thesis program, what information will be included in the thesis, and who will be credited on the thesis. Only students accepted into URS can be listed as authors on the URS thesis.

Yes. LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research (UGR) staff at Texas A&M University, College Station direct the URS thesis program. Students can apply for the URS thesis program by following the instructions on the URS Thesis Application webpage.

Contacts

Caruth School of Dental Hygiene, College of Dentistry, Health Science Center in Dallas Texas A&M University at Galveston Higher Education Learning Center at McAllen Texas A&M University at Qatar
Dr. Faizan Kabani
kabani@tamu.edu
Dr. Lene Petersen
undergraduateresearch@tamug.edu
Dr. Aldolfo G. Santos
adolfo.santos45@tamu.edu
Dr. Ryan McLawhon
ryan.mclawhon@qatar.tamu.edu

Notes:

  • Program dates and deadlines vary by campus and campus-specific academic calendars. Check out the latest program schedule for up-to-date information.
  • Students at the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene are required to use the Dental Hygiene URS thesis template.
  • Students at Texas A&M University at Galveston may be eligible to receive additional funds through the Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program if projects are related to marine environments.
  • Students at the Higher Education Center at McAllen may be eligible to participate in the URS thesis program if they work with an appropriate faculty member (see "Who can be a faculty advisor?" question below.). Additional Capstone opportunities through LAUNCH are available at https://capstones.tamu.edu.

Yes. Students may participate in the URS thesis program twice if they have two separate research projects. We often have students participate during their junior year and return during their senior year with a different project.

If students complete the program twice, they still receive only one medallion and are recognized in their graduation ceremony program once.

Yes, the URS thesis program is designed to accommodate students at various stages in their research projects. Students may apply to the program with a brand-new idea for a project that they have not started yet, or they may apply with a project they are already actively working on. Students still need to meet all URS thesis program requirements and might be asked to revise their current project upon application to the program.

Students can participate in the URS thesis program with a completed project, but they must still adhere to the program deadlines, produce a written thesis document using one of our templates, and work with a faculty advisor who will approve their proposal and final thesis.

Note: A formal undergraduate research thesis is different from a class research project or paper. Depending on the scope and nature of your completed project, it may become necessary to do additional research to expand your thesis.

No. The URS program does not fund students. However, students may be conducting research under a faculty advisor from whom they receive remuneration for their research duties.

The URS thesis program has limited travel awards and poster vouchers available exclusively for students accepted into the URS thesis program to fulfill the public presentation requirement. Information about travel awards and poster vouchers can be found in the program's Thesis Manual & Policy Guide.

No. However, students may need or want to have this experience count for course credit. They can do that in four ways:

  • UGST 405 Thesis Writing Course (1 credit hour W course held in the spring semester, only available to students accepted in the URS thesis program)
  • 491 Research Credit (0-4 credits)*
  • UGST 497 Honors Research Capstone Experience* (only available to students in the University Honors Program, please speak to a University Honors Program advisor to determine how many credits to take)
  • Substitution for senior design

*Note: 0-credit 491 and 0-credit 497 courses show up on student transcripts but will not affect their degree plan hours or add tuition costs.

The URS thesis program can count towards course credit if a student enrolls in a 491 (0-4 credits) through their academic department. Students should speak to their faculty research advisor(s) and departmental advisor(s) about registering for research course credit. Signing up for research course credit is a great way for students to get credit for the work they are doing.

Note: 0-credit 491 courses show up on student transcripts but will not affect their degree plan hours or add tuition costs.

Yes. Students accepted into the URS thesis program receive priority registration but only for the spring semester that they continue in the URS thesis program. Spring semester priority registration will allow students to plan their course schedules so they can conduct their research effectively. Once students complete the URS thesis program in the spring, they will not continue to receive priority registration for future semesters.

Note: Students using the URS thesis program to fulfill requirements of other programs are also subject to the constraints of those programs. University Honors Program students must be in good standing to receive priority registration. Students should work with faculty, departmental, and honors advisors to ensure they are on track with the necessary requirements. If a student is on probation, has a hold on their student account, or are classified as a non-degree seeking student, they will not receive priority registration

Faculty Advisor Approval: After students complete both parts of the application, faculty advisors must review and approve the application in the STSS. The LAUNCH: UGR office cannot fully process applications until faculty advisor approval has been submitted.

Revisions: LAUNCH: UGR staff will review faculty-approved applications and may return them for revisions. Students should take note of individual deadlines provided by LAUNCH staff in any revisions request emails they receive. Always notify faculty advisor(s) if a submission has been returned for revisions by LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research (UGR) staff.

Program Acceptance: Official acceptance into the URS thesis program is granted by the LAUNCH: UGR office and must be completed within the deadlines given for revisions. Students and faculty advisors will each receive a separate notice from LAUNCH: UGR when all approvals have been processed and students have officially been accepted into the program. Depending on when students submit, faculty advisor approval is received, and revisions requests are addressed, students may receive program acceptance notifications as late as the first week of October.

Upon graduation, students are recognized as Undergraduate Research Scholars, which is only one of two university-level honors distinctions. This stand-alone honors distinction will appear on official student transcripts after they graduate, and in the graduation ceremony program. Students also each receive official graduation regalia, an Undergraduate Research Scholars medallion.

Medallions are distributed to students at the end of the semester in which they graduate.

If a student is unable to attend the LAUNCH recognition events, medallions are also distributed at each graduation ceremony. Email ugr@tamu.edu with questions about the annual LAUNCH Recognition Ceremony in May and other LAUNCH recognition events.

Note about COVID-19 Policies: Commencement/graduation activities are dependent on university policies. Visit the official Texas A&M Graduation website for more information and updates. Visit our COVID-19 page for LAUNCH-specific updates.

Faculty Advisors

URS faculty advisors must be:

  • Tenured or tenure-track faculty members at Texas A&M
  • Hold the title of instructor in a tenure-track appointment at Texas A&M
  • Hold non-tenure track appointments as Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors with modified titles such as research, adjunct, clinical, executive, instructional, senior, and visiting, AND must demonstrate significant contributions to scholarly research or creative work to be considered

A letter of recommendation from the department head addressing research qualifications is required for the non-tenure track positions listed above. Lecturers are not eligible to be URS faculty advisors, however, Lecturers may serve as secondary advisors with eligible URS faculty members as primary advisors.

Visit the Dean of Faculties website for guidelines on faculty titles.

LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research prefers that faculty advisors and students are present on campus during the course of the program,* but we have had faculty successfully mentor students while on sabbatical, on a research trip, etc. Another option is to co-mentor with one faculty member present on main campus and the other advising remotely from a Texas A&M University System campus or outside institution.

Above all, we want to make sure that both students and faculty advisors are comfortable with each other’s availability and access to resources during that time. Please read our policy on students attending study abroad above.

*Note: Due to COVID-19, some students and/or faculty may need or choose to conduct research virtually.

No. However, students and Texas A&M faculty advisors must maintain regular communication throughout the two semesters (fall/spring) of the program. Students and faculty advisors should consult all program and submission deadlines before applying. No extensions will be granted without university-excused absences.

The URS thesis program is a high-impact practice and requires active participation from the faculty advisor. First, faculty are required to review and approve the URS proposal in the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS) and agree to advise the student for the entire academic year (fall/spring). Second, faculty advisors are required to review and accept all written content before approving the student’s final thesis and embargo selection in the STSS. Faculty advisors do not submit draft thesis installments or progress reports on behalf of their students.

Faculty Responsibility Concerning Student Research Compliance

  • Faculty advisors who mentor undergraduates in the URS thesis program are solely responsible for advising and verifying student research compliance, research ethics, and necessary training. Faculty advisors are required to review and approve all aspects of URS applications and final theses, including the student’s Research Compliance Acknowledgement page in the application and Research Compliance Certification page in the final thesis.
  • Regulatory research committee (IRB and/or IBC and/or IACUC) approval is required before research activities involving human subjects, animals, or biohazards can commence. This requirement applies to activities conducted at Texas A&M and to activities at non-Texas A&M facilities and institutions. In both cases, students are responsible for working with Texas A&M’s office of Research Compliance & Biosafety to ensure and document that all Texas A&M compliance obligations are met before the research begins. Students and faculty advisors are encouraged to reach out to the appropriate research compliance committee as early as possible.

Faculty advisors are also expected to:

  • Meet regularly with students
  • Discuss benchmarks
  • Guide students to effectively meet challenges*
  • Expose students to research cultures and norms
  • Offer continuous feedback on research and writing skills
  • Advise students on public presentations, both venues and style
  • Teach students about ethical and professional behavior in research
  • Guide students through the process of obtaining research compliance approval (if necessary)
  • Maintain standards for learning outcomes that align with the QEP
  • Discuss potential research credit through 491 (0-4 credits) courses
  • Encourage students to submit to Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal and apply to the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors program.
  • Encourage students to apply to National Fellowships

*Note: Beginning 2020-2021, students are required to apply with a contingency plan for COVID-19 disruptions so they will still be able to complete the URS thesis program despite potential interruptions.

No. The URS thesis program does not fund students in the program. The URS thesis program has limited travel awards and poster vouchers available exclusively for students accepted into the URS thesis program to fulfill the public presentation requirement.

However, if a faculty advisor is currently funding students, or has students being funded in other areas, they can still advise these students on a URS thesis. Students can also use the LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research (UGR) Research Opportunities Database to search for funding options.

This is a high-impact practice recognized by Texas A&M’s QEP. URS faculty advisors should highlight their mentoring activities with students on annual reviews, and make department chairs and colleges aware of their involvement in undergraduate research activities. Remember you can even invite your students to assist with grant writing, attend conferences, and co-author publications with you.

Research Compliance

The office of Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB) is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, students, and staff in regulatory requirements for research. RCB provides administrative and operational support for Texas A&M’s research compliance review committees as well as other research compliance programs designated at the university.

Projects may require approval through RCB committees if they involve:

  1. Human Subjects: Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  2. Vertebrate Animals: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  3. Biohazards: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Note: Please be aware that projects involving social media and/or online content may be subject to review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Students and faculty advisors should have a conversation very early on in the design of their URS projects to determine whether or not the project may require approval from any of the three research compliance committees.

Beginning in 2020-2021, students in the URS thesis program are required to submit the Research Compliance Acknowledgement page as part of their application and the Research Compliance Certification page as part of their final theses. Faculty advisors are required to review and approve all aspects of URS applications and final theses, including the student’s Research Compliance Acknowledgement page in the application and Research Compliance Certification page in the final thesis.

Note to Students: You must discuss any changes to the direction of your URS project immediately with your faculty advisor to determine if you need to seek research compliance approval and/or training. Remember that you are not allowed to collect data and may not be able to continue work on your URS project until you have received research compliance approval.

No. Students may already be covered if they are a part of an ongoing research project under their faculty advisor(s). However, students still need to complete any required training and must be amended to the existing compliance protocol.

If an existing approval does not exist, students and their faculty advisor(s) will need to determine who will submit the project to the appropriate committee for review, what type of training they need to complete and when, and work with the appropriate committee(s) to submit all required documents and/or revisions to their compliance approval application as requested by the committee(s). Some projects may require approval by more than one committee.

Students may still be able to complete other parts of their URS projects while they are awaiting approval from the appropriate committee(s) in the office of Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB). Students should talk to their faculty advisor(s) about what portions of their projects they can complete without research compliance approval.

Students may need to postpone their projects if they do not receive research compliance approval from the appropriate RCB committee(s) to successfully complete the URS thesis program. Students may be able to reapply to next year’s program if they are still eligible.

Students may need to revise either the methods or scope of their projects to avoid research compliance issues.

Note to Students: please talk to your faculty advisor about how you might restructure your project to achieve similar or even different research goals. Be advised that you need to contact the RCB office on any changes that you make to a project that is already under review.

Thesis Guidance

Applicants are required to use one of the templates provided by LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research. Students should consult with faculty advisors to determine which template is most appropriate for their discipline.

Students will have the opportunity to construct a timeline as part of the application. The sample timeline template addresses the following types of questions for students:

  • When will you complete any required training?
  • When will you seek compliance approval (if needed)?
  • When will you complete your literature review?
  • When and how often will you meet with your faculty advisor to get feedback on your thesis content?
  • When and where will you do your public presentation?
  • When will you register for conferences or meetings?
  • When will you visit the University Writing Center for help?
  • When will you analyze your data?
  • When will you schedule and complete any field work?
  • What milestones did you set out to accomplish?
  • When will you set time aside to complete each installment submission and progress report?
  • Do you have access to all necessary equipment, documents, and other resources? If not, when will you obtain all necessary materials for your project?
  • When will you proofread and revise the document you plan to submit as your final thesis?
  • How will you complete your project if there are COVID-19 disruptions?

Student projects vary by discipline and scope. All URS theses must have a minimum of 20 pages of written content (includes references, but not the required preliminary pages). Many Undergraduate Research Scholars write more than the minimum 20 pages.

Students should consult faculty advisors to learn how to write for their field.

Students have access to our Thesis Manual & Policy Guide which contains detailed instructions and resource information for constructing the document. Students will also have access to workshops, drop-in sessions, and you can even register for a special UGST 405 Thesis Writing Course.

LAUNCH: UGR provides University Writing Center resources and interactive lessons on writing.

The URS Thesis Manual & Policy Guide is the most important document for navigating the URS thesis program. The Thesis Manual & Policy Guide contains detailed instructions for the preparation of URS theses and presents a Common Mistakes Guide that helps students avoid errors that require revisions.

This Thesis Manual & Policy Guide is designed to assist URS students and their faculty advisors in the preparation of theses by providing uniform standards of style and format while allowing enough flexibility to satisfy the accepted practices of different academic disciplines. The Thesis Manual & Policy Guide has been adapted from the Thesis Manual published by Graduate and Professional Studies at Texas A&M University to emphasize the expectation that the resulting Undergraduate Research Scholar’s Thesis meets the same high standards for format and style as a professional publication.

Download the latest version of the Thesis Manual & Policy Guide on our URS Resources page.

Application: Your faculty advisor must approve your application through the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS). LAUNCH staff will review your faculty-approved application and may return it for revisions. Final approval into the URS thesis program is granted by the LAUNCH office and must be completed within the deadlines given for revisions.

Research Compliance: The office of Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB) is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, students, and staff in regulatory requirements for research. Research Compliance and Biosafety committees:

  • Human Subjects: Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Vertebrate Animals: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  • Biohazards: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Installment Submissions, Progress Reports, Presentation Reports: LAUNCH staff will review all assigned submissions and may return installments for revisions. It is your responsibility to complete these assignments within the URS thesis program deadlines or provide a university-excused absence.

Final Thesis: LAUNCH staff will review the document you submit for your final thesis and may return it for revisions. Your faculty advisor must approve your final thesis through the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS). Completion of the URS thesis program is granted by the LAUNCH office and is dependent upon completion of all required activities and deadlines in the URS thesis program.

There are three places you will submit documents and assignments:

  • Online Form on LAUNCH Website (Application Part 1)
  • Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS) (Application Part 2 and Final Thesis Submission Part 2)
  • eCampus Community (Installment Submissions and Revisions, Progress Reports and Presentation Reports, and Final Thesis Submission Part 1)

Thesis Publication

An embargo is also known as a thesis hold. You and your faculty advisor have the opportunity to place a hold (also known as an embargo) on your thesis if you are seeking publication in an academic journal or intend to submit the work for patent consideration.

  • 2-year Journal Hold
  • 2-year Patent Hold
  • Other as arranged with Undergraduate Research staff

Undergraduate Research Scholars theses are made available to the public in our OAKTrust Collection.

The OAKTrust digital repository at Texas A&M is a digital service that collects, preserves, and distributes the scholarly output of the University. The repository facilitates open access scholarly communication while preserving the scholarly legacy of the Texas A&M community.

Undergraduate Research Scholars theses are made available to the public in our OAKTrust Collection.

Once your thesis is deposited to OAKTrust, it will be available for viewing by the public. You and your faculty advisor have the opportunity to place a hold (also known as an embargo) on your thesis if you are seeking publication in an academic journal or intend to submit the work for patent consideration.

At the end of a thesis hold term (typically 2 years), Undergraduate Research staff will contact your faculty advisor to confirm that the thesis can be released.

Note: If no response is received from the faculty advisor or the student by the specified deadline, the thesis WILL BE RELEASED to the public.

If you do not place an embargo on your document, your thesis will be published at the end of the summer following your completion of the program.

Published documents are available in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Capstone Collection of Texas A&M University’s OAKTrust Digital Repository.

Program Troubleshooting

Yes. You and your faculty advisor need to identify the most appropriate venue for you to present your work. This cannot be a presentation within your own department or to one of your classes. Appropriate venues include regional professional meetings, national or international conferences, or other presentation venues at Texas A&M University that occur prior to the URS thesis program's public presentation report deadline.

Students at Texas A&M University at Galveston can present their research at the Student Research Symposium. Qatar and Dental Hygiene students need to consult with their faculty advisors and LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research staff.

Common reasons include:

  • You have failed to complete Part 1 of the application.
  • You did not provide a detailed timeline that incorporates URS thesis program deadlines and/or the timeline is not appropriate for the scope of your project.
  • The proposal lacks a project summary.
  • Your proposal is missing a research question that will produce new and original work.
  • The objectives/goals of the research are not clear. WHY are you doing this? What do you intend to learn? If successful, how will this work move your field forward?
  • You did not complete the Research Compliance Acknowledgement page on Part 2 of the Application.
  • You did not complete the COVID-19 Contingency Plan page on Part 2 of the Application.
  • The methods/theoretical framework section is missing, vague, or unclear.
  • The research proposed is based on developing a critical technique or procedure, or having access to an uncommon piece of equipment, but does not address what you will do if the technique or procedure fails or if equipment is not available.
  • The proposal does not include in-text citations from the primary literature to support your justification, approach, or procedures, or it lacks a References/Bibliography/Works Cited section accurately citing these primary sources.
  • The proposal needs proofreading for grammatical, typographical, or has formatting errors.

The URS thesis program follows university policy for absences and missed Installments, Progress and Presentation Reports, and Mandatory Events. Students must provide a university-excused absence. See student rules at http://student-rules.tamu.edu.

Note on Thesis Installment Revision Deadlines: Students are required to return revisions to installment submissions within 72 hours of receiving a Needs Corrections notice unless otherwise specified by the thesis reviewer. Should a student fail to meet a revisions deadline, he/she/they must contact LAUNCH: UGR and submit the revised installment to eCampus within 72 hours. Failure to meet revisions deadlines thereafter without documentation of a university- excused absence will result in the student’s removal from the URS thesis program.

Visit http://student-rules.tamu.edu for a list of university-excused absences. Be aware that if you are using the URS thesis program to fulfill degree or honors requirements, you will must adhere to all program deadlines or submit documentation of university-excused absences to continue in the program.

Program Withdrawal

Yes. Any type of honor code violation from student rules will result in a review and possible dismissal from the program.

If you miss a mandatory event, submission deadline, and/or revision deadline and you do not have a university-excused absence, you may be removed from the program.

If your faculty advisor does not approve your final thesis submission, you will be removed from the program. We encourage students to communicate throughout the year with their faculty advisors on the project and about revisions.

If you are using the URS thesis program to fulfill requirements for Honors, Senior Design, course credit (including W credit), or another program, please consult with your faculty advisor about scholarship and/or graduation requirements.

Consult with your faculty advisor before removing yourself from the program. Once you and your faculty advisor have discussed your removal, please email ugr@tamu.edu.

More Questions?