Expand AU Menu

Questions?

For general admissions questions, contact: SIS Graduate Admissions

To apply to this program, see this application page

Applicant FAQs

For academic questions, please contact:
Professor Judith Shapiro
shapiro@american.edu

Student Research

Capstone Research Projects


An important part of the GEP and NRSD Master's programs is the capstone research project, in which students analyze a contemporary environmental problem, controversy, or policy issue. Capstone projects, which are completed during the second year, give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned, to produce useful knowledge, and to demonstrate their abilities by writing a professional-quality report. Capstone research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty member, and may be done either individually or as part of a research team.

OPTION 1—INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH: Students choosing to work individually write a Substantial Research Paper (SRP), usually during their final semester in the program. SRP research and writing is conducted under the supervision of a GEP faculty member, and typically culminates in a 50-60 page report that defines a question, applies one or more specific research methods to the question, develops findings, and discusses their implications and significance. For students particularly interested in research, we also have a year-long Master's Thesis option.

Click here for a summary of recent SRP and thesis research projects conducted by GEP and NRSD students.

OPTION 2—PRACTICUM TEAM RESEARCH: Students also have the option to join one of our Practicum Research Teams, which conduct a semester-long research project in partnership with a professional organization active in the environmental field. Practicum teams typically include six to eight students working with a faculty supervisor and an organizational partner. Students develop the focus of the research in consultation with the partner, design and execute the work, and write an integrated, publication-quality report. Some projects involve local or international field research and/or travel.

Click here for a summary of recent practicum projects conducted by GEP and NRSD students.