Honors Program

The Departmental Honors Program is designed to provide additional depth to the student's knowledge in a special area of contemporary physics, and to ground this knowledge in their understanding of the world around them. As the standard undergraduate curriculum is rather tightly defined and scheduled, the Honors Program allows a student the opportunity to be directly involved in the choice of an addition to his/her educational program. In addition, this program offers the student the opportunity to work closely with one or two professors.

During each of the two last semesters of the student's undergraduate years, and upon selecting a topic that is accepted by the mentoring professor, the student should register for 1 credit hour of either Physics 456 or Astronomy 456; this registration requires the prior approval of the faculty member in question. As the award is of a departmental nature, the student and mentor should submit an initial proposal outlining the intended work as early as possible, and certainly before the end of the fourth week of the semester in which the work is begun. The proposal is to be submitted to the department's Undergraduate Committee for this initial approval, and should include a detailed description of the student's plan of work, placing the work in the context of the current state of the field, and must involve original work. The proposal should include a clear description of the student's role in the project, and a timeline of milestones during the period of work. Students are encouraged to consult their undergraduate advisors with questions regarding any aspect of their thesis proposal.

The mentor should give a brief progress report to the Undergraduate Committee near the beginning of the spring semester. Successful completion will be demonstrated by a final, formal, written paper as well as an oral presentation by the student. The student must also create a poster of their work that the department will subsequently use to highlight undergraduate research. The deadline for handing in the written thesis is the Friday of the third to last week of classes in the spring semester. The time of the oral presentation is to be decided by mutual agreement of the student and the Undergraduate Committee. Approval of the presentation as achieving the level and standard intended for Honors work will be by a subcommittee of the Undergraduate Committee, thereby providing some uniformity for the department. Finally, the student's GPA within the major must be 3.25 or greater at the time of graduation.

This link provides a list of students successfully completing this program, as well as copies of their theses, that may provide examples for new students interested in the program.