Honors Program in Mathematics

The honors program in Mathematics allows students to work with an advisor during their senior year and write a thesis about an appropriate mathematical topic. The theses may be expository, contain original theoretical work, involve modeling or data analysis, or any combination thereof.

Students interested in writing a thesis in mathematics must first pass the Honors Qualifying Exam during their junior year. (Those for whom the second semester of the junior year occurs in the fall may elect instead to take

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the qualifying examination at the beginning of that semester.) This means interested students should take Math 350 or Math 355 early in their careers, to take an appropriate subject-specific portion of the qualifier.

Those who pass the Honors Qualifying Examination and wish to write a thesis in Mathematics must submit a thesis proposal, due in early April.  Details will be provided to students who pass the Honors Qualifying Examination. Typically, the thesis proposal will consist of a list of Mathematics and other relevant courses taken, an indication of your preferred thesis advisors, and a written thesis proposal, which should be a 1-2 paragraph description of your proposed thesis topic and/or area(s) of study. This proposal should be written after consulting with the Mathematics faculty. We encourage you to start early in talking with different Mathematics professors about potential thesis topics.

The department will work to accommodate as many suitable proposals as possible, but it may be the case that not all proposals will be accepted if we have a very large group of students seeking to write theses. Note that submission of a proposal after passing the Honors Qualifying Exam does not guarantee getting to write a thesis in Mathematics.

Juniors who pass the Honors Qualifying Exam, but do not submit a proposal or who submit an unsuccessful proposal, will still (as usual) be counted as a student who has passed the Mathematics Comprehensive Exam and will not need to take the exam in their senior year.

After intensive study of their chosen topic, each candidate will write a report in the form of a thesis which should be original in its presentation of material, if not in content. In addition, the candidate will report to the departmental colloquium on their thesis work during the senior year. Honors candidates are also required to complete MATH 345 and at least one Mathematics course numbered between 400 and 489. As with core courses required for the major, a Pass grade may not be applied to either of these additional requirements, except by petition to the department. See Recent Theses for a list of recent theses and Thesis Regulations for more details about the written thesis.

The final thesis document (an original presentation of the material) is presented to the department, evaluated by the faculty, and the student gives a 45-minute presentation of (some of) the material, followed by faculty questions.

For more details, please consult with your math advisor.