An Independent Research project may be considered for departmental honors if it demonstrates superior quality of work. Such theses are read by all members of the departmental faculty as well as an evaluator from outside the department, selected by the project advisor for their knowledge of that specific field. Oral defense of the thesis is required, and final revisions to the written thesis are made based on the comments of the readers. Students who successfully complete the defense will be named in the Commencement Program as having achieved honors.

Students who think that their project is potentially worthy of honors should indicate that with a short written proposal to their research adviser by the end of the fall semester of their senior year. This provides an occasion for the faculty advisor to give feedback to the student on the worthiness of the project and to plan the second semester in order to assure the quality of the project. This conversation helps the faculty to consider potential outside reviewers and schedule oral defenses, and also solidifies in the student's mind the need for progress and ultimate goal of the project.

A first draft of the paper should be turned in to your advisor no later than April to allow revisions so that a final draft will be ready for delivery to the research advisor, the other faculty, and the outside reader by mid-April. The oral defense usually will be scheduled on or about the last day of classes. Defenses are open to other majors, interested friends, faculty, and other guests. After the defense, the faculty and outside reader will vote in private, based on careful consideration of the quality of the paper and defense, and of the academic maturity of the student during the project year.  Detailed guidelines can be found on the Earth Sciences Department web site.


141 Planet Earth

142 Earth History

201 Surface Processes

202 Energy Resources

204 Global Climate Change

208 Environmental Hazards

218 Geographic Information Systems

220 Environmental Geology

221 Oceanography

301 Field Geology

302 Structural Geology

305 Earth Materials

306 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

307 Paleontology

309 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

311 Special Topics

318 Advanced Applications in GIS

320 Hydrogeology

331 Chemistry of Earth Systems

491 Senior Field Camp