Undergraduate Honors Program


As part of a diversified, rigorous and thorough program of undergraduate study in the geosciences or environmental sciences at UNM, the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences offers a Departmental Honors option. The program is available to both E&PS and Env Sc majors, and requires independent research in collaboration with a faculty member. The option is available to students who have maintained a GPA average of 3.0 in lower-division geology courses, as well as the required lower-division courses in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. See the Departmental Honors Advisor regarding your eligibility. This option is strongly recommended for students who intend to pursue graduate studies.

The purpose of this program is to introduce undergraduates to independent research; its methods, data analysis and written preparation. Students are encouraged to meet a standard of excellence that can lead to the publication or formal scientific presentation of their results.

For additional information, please contact the Honors Advisor, Professor Laura Crossey, Rm 141, Northrop Hall, 277-1641; lcrossey@unm.edu.
Honors Application form: here.
Honors Guidelines: here.


EPS graduates after presenting Senior Thesis results to the Department.
L-R: Linda Doran, Sharon Sparks, Rachel Schelble, Chris Purcell, and Linda Brown.


UNM undergraduate Michelle Leister Olsen (2002) and former grad. student Carol Dehler in Death Valley. Carol is now a professor at Utah State University in Logan, Utah: Michelle returned to UNM in 2008 and completed her MS also at UNM in 2013.

The guidelines and requirements for graduation with Honors in Earth & Planetary Sciences are:

  1. Students should enter the program as early as possible in their undergraduate program, no later than the end of their junior year. The student is encouraged to contact the Honors Advisor if the student requires advice on the selection of a research topic or a research advisor. Other faculty and the Departmental Undergraduate Advisors may also be consulted.


  2. The student should contact a potential research advisor who is an expert in the field of the proposed research project and design a realistic, meritorious research program. The Research Advisor will play a strong role in developing the student's academic plan of study (E&PS as well as supporting science electives). The student must also contact the Honors Advisor to formally enter the program (see downloadable Honors Application Form).


  3. A short (~ 2 page) research proposal (including project goals, methods to be used, and a timetable) should be submitted to the Research Advisor and the Honors Advisor for their approval. The Department can provide limited funds to support the research program. A budget should be attached to the proposal.


  4. During the course of study, the student should enroll in EPS 493 (Independent Study) and 495 (Senior Thesis) with the Research Advisor for a total of 6 credit hours. These hours do not count toward E&PS electives required for the major(s), but are in addition to ALL other degree requirements. They do count toward the total hours required for graduation, as well as the general upper division hours requirement however.


  5. On completion of the research program, the student will submit a completed thesis to the Research Advisor for approval, and a copy to the Honors Advisor. The thesis must be orally defended during an informal presentation, of approximately 20 minutes in length, to undergraduate colleagues, graduate students, research staff and faculty of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Copies of the thesis should be left on f le in the Department office and with the Research Advisor.


  6. Upon successful completion of the requirements (which will be assessed by the Honors Advisor), the Honors degrees will be awarded on the basis of GPA in the E&PS courses and associated supporting sciences: 3.2-3.6 Honors (cum laude); 3.6-3.9 High Honors (magma cum laude): 3.9 and above Highest Honors (summa cum laude). If you are awarded EPS Honors, your overall GPA is greater than 3.5, and at least half of your coursework was completed at UNM, you will receive Honors with 'Distinction' automatically.

    For additional information, please contact the Honors Advisor, Laura J. Crossey (lcrossey@unm.edu; 277-1641, Northrop 141).
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