Departmental Honors

Students interested in graduating with departmental honors do so by carrying out a rather extensive research project, writing an in-depth paper, and passing an oral defense in the spring semester of their senior year.  Students should think carefully about their desire to obtain departmental honors and are encouraged to discuss this with their academic advisor well before their senior year.  In addition, the student should consult with a faculty member to begin planning a senior research project sometime during their junior year.  To be considered as an honors candidate, the student must satisfy and complete the following requirements:

  1. The student must have a physics GPA of 3.3 or higher.
  2. The student must propose an appropriate project and enlist a faculty advisor by the end of their junior year.
  3. The student must perform sufficiently well on the senior competency exam.
  4. The student must submit an honors proposal to the Department by the end of the fall semester of their senior year. This proposal must include an appropriately referenced overview of the entire project clearly specifying what has already been accomplished and detailed plans for completion of the project.

The physics and astronomy faculty will then meet to review the proposal and discuss the student's progress to see whether the student is on track to complete an honors project.  The student will be notified of the faculty’s decision early in the spring semester and if the decision is positive, the student will be considered an honors candidate.  The following requirements must then be completed to receive departmental honors.

  1. The student must present his/her work at a department approved external conference. This can be in the form of an oral or poster presentation.
  2. The student must write an honors research paper in the spring semester. This paper should be quite a bit more substantial than a standard research paper and no joint authorship is allowed.
  3. The student must defend his/her research in an oral exam administered by (normally) all the physics and astronomy faculty. This exam will focus on the topic of the student’s research but will also cover basic physics topics related to this research.

After the oral exam, the faculty will meet to discuss the student’s accomplishments and will vote on whether to approve departmental honors or not.  The student is typically notified of the faculty’s decision shortly after the oral exam.

The following LaTeX template is designed to satisfy the College formatting requirements.
DC Honors Physic LaTeX template (pdf)
DC Honors Physics LaTeX template (.zip with all files and figs)

Past Recipients of Departmental Awards

Each year the Department of Physics & Astronomy gives awards and scholarships to the strongest students.

Past recipients of departmental honors