Comprehensive Requirement: The comprehensive requirement in Chemistry is fulfilled by regular attendance at and active participation in the department seminars during the senior year. These seminars are generally held on Friday afternoons. (Click here for the seminar schedule.)
Oral Presentation: Each thesis student will make an oral presentation to the Department describing the nature of the honors project. These presentations are scheduled during the fall as part of the department seminar program, which for 2022–2023 is Friday afternoons at 3:30PM. Please see the seminar schedule for the date on which each student will be speaking.
The talk should be limited to 12 to 15 minutes and should briefly describe the goals set for the project, the planned methodology, and any progress to date. A short question period will follow the presentation. Each thesis student should provide the department office with a one-page abstract of the talk no later than the Monday prior to the presentation. Copies of this abstract will be circulated in advance to the members of the Department. The talk will be considered as a part of the grade in Chemistry 498/499D and in the level of departmental honors recommended.
Poster Presentation: Each thesis student will present a poster of their research during the spring as part of the seminar program in a session attended by chemistry majors in their junior year who are considering pursuing a thesis in the department. As with the oral presentation, the poster should describe the goals set for the project, the planned methodology, and any progress to date. The dimensions of the poster board are 36 x 48 inches, so posters should be this size or smaller. Note that it is better to create the poster to scale. The poster can be printed at the Campus Print and Mail Center using their large-format printer. You will receive specific instructions from the Chemistry ADC. Please keep in mind the Print and Mail Center hours of operation are M-F 8:30am-4:30pm; their offices are located in B3 of College Hall. It may take the Print and Mail Center 2-3 days to print your poster, please plan accordingly. Once your poster is ready for pick-up, the Print and Mail Center will notify you.
- Please carefully proof your poster before submitting it to the Print and Mail Center for printing. The cost of printing one poster will be reimbursed to your student account by the Chemistry Department. The poster will be considered as a part of the grade in Chemistry 498/499D.
Thesis Due Date: Theses are due for the Class of 2023E on Friday, December 2, 2022 at 4:30 pm. The thesis due date for the Class of 2023 will be Friday, April 14, 2023. It is essential that theses are submitted to the Chemistry Department by this deadline, since the Department needs adequate time to review them and all aspects of the honors projects prior to various College-imposed deadlines. An electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF format, should be uploaded by this time following a procedure that will be provided to each thesis student.
Shortly after the thesis due date, each thesis student will be asked to defend their thesis in an oral examination. For the Class of 2023E, this will be between December 5 and 8, 2022. The examining committee will consist of the research advisor and two other chemistry faculty. Your research advisor can tell you the names of the two additional members of your committee. As early as possible, the student should arrange with his or her committee to hold the oral exam at a mutually convenient time. After the oral examination, the committee may suggest revisions to the thesis. Each thesis student is then responsible for submitting his or her thesis in the proper format to (a) the Registrar for deposit in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections (Please see the guidelines at the Registrar's website.), (b) one paper copy plus an electronic version to the Chemistry Department Office. (Please confer with your advisor who may also request a copy of the electronic version or that additional paper copies be prepared for the lab.)
Grades for Honors Work:
1. The course grade for Chem 498/499D and the recommendation for Latin honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude) are determined separately.
2. After completion of Chem 498 (the first semester of research) the student and research advisor will review progress towards the thesis, and the advisor will convey to the student a preliminary assessment of his or her standing. This assessment will follow a consultation between the advisor and other members of the Department. It is possible that some prospective honors students will not be permitted to continue such work during the second semester.
3. Should the student continue with the project, a single grade for Chem 498 and 499D will be assigned at the end of the second semester of research by the advisor in consultation with other members of the Department.
4. The recommendation for the level of Latin honors (summa, magna, cum) will be made by the Chemistry Department to the entire College Faculty at the end of May. The Faculty must then vote to approve the Department’s recommendation. The Department’s recommendation is guided by the considerations stated below:
Formulation of Chemistry Department Honors Program
The Department makes a recommendation to the Faculty about the level of Latin Honors you will receive. This recommendation must be voted on by the Faculty. The Amherst College catalog states:
“Candidates eligible for the degree summa cum laude must have a minimum overall grade point average in the top 25% of their class and have received a recommendation of summa based on a thesis or comparable work from a department or program in which they have majored. In addition, the theses of the candidates for the degree summa cum laude will be reviewed by the Committee of Six, who will transmit its recommendation to the Faculty. Candidates will also have their entire records reviewed by the Dean of Faculty and the Committee of Six, who will transmit their recommendation to the Faculty.”
“Candidates eligible for the degree magna cum laude must have a minimum overall grade point average in the top 25% of their class and have received a recommendation of magna based on a thesis or comparable work from a department or program in which they have majored. Although each department or program may define additional criteria upon which it will base its recommendation, the candidate must submit a thesis or comparable work that is judged by the department or program to be of magna quality. Candidates will also qualify for the degree magna cum laude if they have been recommended for summa cum laude and are in the top 40% but not the top 25% of their class and have otherwise met the requirements for the degree summa cum laude.”
“Candidates eligible for the degree cum laude must have received a recommendation of cum based on a thesis or comparable work from a department or program in which they have majored. Although each department or program may define additional criteria upon which it will base its recommendation, the candidate must submit a thesis or comparable work that is judged by the department or program to be of cum quality. Students recommended for summa cum laude who are not in the top 40% of their class will graduate cum laude. Students recommended for magna cum laude who are not in the top 25% of their class will graduate cum laude.”
In reaching their recommendation for honors, members of the Chemistry Department will consider many factors, two of which are:
1. The student’s intellectual contribution to your project. This is perhaps the most important, albeit the least concrete, criterion in determining the departmental recommendation. Has the student fully participated in the development of the project by showing intellectual initiative? Does the student fully understand the literature and background pertinent to the project? Can the student, in both the fall seminar and the thesis defense, competently answer questions concerning both the execution of and the logic underlying the project?
2. The performance as compared with other honors students not only in the present class, but also in previous years’ classes. That is, the departmental faculty will attempt to judge honors performance against a standard that has been established over the years, considering the thesis, the oral presentation, and performance in chemistry and other courses.