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Jackson Scholars Program

The Jackson Scholars program is a learning initiative designed to foster achievement, initiative and motivation academically and in the community. A goal of the Jackson School is to promote “scholars” in the broadest sense where a scholar is defined not solely by classroom performance but also by a willingness to take initiative and participate in research, governance, professional development, study abroad, and/or community service

General Requirements

Prospective Jackson Scholars register for the program during their freshman, sophomore, or junior year. Interested students should contact Dan Breecker at Each student must:

  • Remain in good academic standing at UT Austin
  • Be continuously enrolled in a JSG degree program for a minimum of 12 hours each long semester
  • Graduate with a minimum cumulative and major GPA of 3.0.
  • Submit a completed Jackson Scholars portfolio for review during their last semester, prior to graduation. A complete portfolio must include, at a minimum:
    • Completed approval forms for all activities
    • Documentation for two of the three possible areas in Category I: Scholarship
    • Documentation for one of two areas in Category II: Service

The requirements for Jackson Scholar can be completed at any time during the student’s program, but will only be recognized at graduation, and only the final GPA(s) will be evaluated.

In order to receive credit for scholarship and service activities, a petition must be approved before beginning work in these areas.  Each component requires adequate and appropriate documentation that must be included in the final Jackson Scholars Portfolio. Meetings and workshops are held throughout the year to provide additional information and resources to help students plan and fulfill program requirements.

Category I:  Scholarship


The research element involves organized laboratory, literature, or field research, supervised by a faculty member in the Jackson School, which results in a written project report or publication. The research project is to be carried out over a minimum of 2 semesters, and involves a defined research question, a brief proposal, and a final written project report. The student must register for GEO 379K or 371C for at least one semester, preferably the second when the research project is completed. Honors students approved to submit their thesis work as part of their Jackson Scholars portfolio may count GEO 379H. The project report format is open, but must be agreed upon by the student and supervisor. Proposals for non-traditional research projects may be submitted to the JSG Student Services Office for consideration by the JSG Undergraduate Committee. Research projects completed for the JSG Honors program that lead to successful completion of a thesis may be counted as one component of Category I. Honors students must submit a petition to count their thesis towards the Jackson Scholars program prior to starting work on the project. A final version of the written project report or publication must be included in the portfolio.

Study Abroad

A study abroad program is a rewarding but challenging experience. To be included in the Jackson Scholar Portfolio a student must participate in one of UT’s recognized study abroad programs for a full semester and be enrolled in the host University. ‘Maymester’ and Faculty-Led summer programs do not count toward Jackson Scholar recognition. To participate in a semester abroad program a student must be in good standing and have a minimum UT and GEO cumulative GPA of 3.0. Courses taken at the host university must be for credit with a grade of C or better, and the course credit must be recognized either by direct course equivalency or as 319S or 329S. The student must include in their Jackson Scholar portfolio documentation from UT and the host university of successful completion.

Students interested in participating in UT Study Abroad are strongly encouraged to meet with a Jackson School Academic Advisor to discuss their goal as early as possible. There are currently 8-9 study abroad programs in geological sciences, in as many countries, which offer exciting programs for JSG students. The experience that works best with a student’s academic goals, degree progress, and area of interest may require planning three to four semesters in advance.


Internships are a valuable way to gain work experience and training directly applicable to the student’s area of future employment. To be recognized as a core element for a Jackson Scholar the internship must be a minimum of two consecutive summer sessions (ex. f and s) or one long-session semester (fall or spring) in a supervised internship program, and the student must be enrolled in GEO 679J or 679G. At the conclusion of the internship the student must prepare a report of accomplishments and advances made during the internship, and secure a letter of evaluation from the internship supervisor for inclusion in the JS portfolio. To register for an internship the student must be in good academic standing and have a minimum cumulative UT and GEO GPA of 3.0.

Category II:  Service

Community and Professional Service

A fundamental part of being an effective geoscientist is participation in the broader aspects of the profession and the society in general through volunteering and service learning. Community and professional service could take the form of volunteer community service such as volunteer EMS, community hotline, or volunteering in schools or hospitals. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available through UT Volunteer and Service Learning Center. This is intended to be a major investment on the part of the student that leads toward a long-term commitment to service. Active Membership in a volunteer organization for at least one year is required for Jackson Scholars. Supporting material for the JS portfolio should include a support letter from the organization’s leadership and a log of service hours. Organizations must be approved prior to beginning service.


A Jackson Scholar is expected to be a leader in the field of Earth Sciences, and an active member of their professional community. A Leadership component, for inclusion in the JS portfolio, could include elected positions in student organizations or clubs (not restricted to geosciences organizations), participation in City, County, or State legislative affairs, a leadership role (elected or promotion based) in a volunteer organization. Supporting material for the JS portfolio should include a support letter from the organization and a log of service hours or list of leadership duties.

Evaluation and Recognition

The final portfolio, consisting of documented completion of the required areas defining a Jackson Scholar in each category, will be reviewed by the Jackson School faculty and Dean. Jackson Scholars will be recognized at the JSG commencement ceremony.