Honors Program in Statistics

The Honors program in Statistics allows students to work with an advisor during their senior year and write a thesis about an appropriate statistical topic. Theses may be expository, contain original theoretical or methodological work, contain data analysis, or any combination thereof.

For a degree with Honors, a student must have demonstrated the ability to pursue independent work fruitfully and exhibit a strong motivation to engage in research. To apply to the Honors Program, students must have an average grade of B+ or higher in STAT 230, 231, 360, and 370. Students are also expected to have completed STAT 370 before the first semester of thesis work is undertaken. E students interested in theses should plan accordingly.

Students are admitted to the Honors Program on the basis of a thesis proposal which must be accepted by the department. Advisors are then assigned by the department. Proposals are due during the second semester of junior year. Initial proposals are usually revised after advisors are assigned (details below). More information including a proposal deadline will be circulated to all junior majors.

The purpose of the thesis proposal is to help the Statistics faculty assess whether you have sufficient background and preparation to research and write the thesis, as well as determine whether the faculty has sufficient expertise to advise you on your selected topic. Supervision of Honors work is normally limited to the areas of expertise represented in the Department. Topics of mutual interest between the student and potential advisors are preferred. Thus, students are strongly encouraged to discuss possible thesis topics with potential advisors while developing their proposals. Proposals may outline more than one potential topic the student is interested in pursuing. Information about faculty research interests is available to assist you. In assigning advisors for Honors work, in addition to the expertise/interests of the faculty, we will also consider equitable distribution of the workload and student preferences.

If a student is accepted to the Honors Program, they will finalize their topic in consultation with their assigned advisor. A revised proposal that the advisor approves of should be prepared. Revised proposals are usually solicited early in the first semester of the senior year by the Honors Advisor to circulate among all the Statistics faculty.

Honors candidates take STAT 498 and STAT 499 as their thesis courses during their senior year. Starting with the academic year 2023-24, statistics majors in the Honors Program can, with the approval of their Honors advisor, sign up for a double honors course during the second semester of their senior year (typically, STAT D499).

After intensive study of their topic (via the thesis courses), the Honors candidate will write a report in the form of a thesis which should be original in its presentation of material, if not in content, which is then evaluated by the Statistics faculty. In addition, the candidate will give a presentation of (some of) the material, followed by faculty questions. This presentation occurs during the second semester of the senior year. Details, including desired presentation length, will be provided by the Department.

Starting with the class of 2023, Honors students must complete an additional course for the major.  The course must be broadly related to the thesis (e.g., a statistics elective with an introduction to the topic; linear algebra for more theoretical theses; an advanced Computer Science course for more computational theses).  The thesis advisor must approve the course as “related”.  Mathematics and Statistics double majors should note that only one course beyond calculus can count towards both majors.

The department will work to accommodate as many suitable thesis proposals as possible.  Note that admission to the honors program is not automatic and depends on the quality of the proposal and your preparation to undertake independent research, as well as the availability of suitable advisors.

Last updated: March 2023

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