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 Honors Discussion in the spring semester of their senior year.  Students should think carefully about their desire to obtain departmental honors.  The student is expected to consult with a faculty member to begin planning a senior research project before spring break 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 submit a Statement of Intent to go for honors by the second-to-last week of classes in the Spring semester of junior year. This Statement must indicate the intended advisor and approximate scope of the project.

3.     The student must register for Independent Research (PHYS 550) in both semesters of their senior year.

4.     The student must submit a formal Honors Proposal no later than the third week of the Fall semester, senior year. The proposal should include a detailed description of the project and an approximate timeline for the research.

5.     The student must organize a thesis committee comprised of two faculty members in addition to the research advisor. These faculty will be formal readers for the honors thesis. 

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 within two weeks 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.     Before the last week of Fall classes, the student organizes and presents a research report to the Thesis Committee. Within two weeks, the Committee will respond to the student regarding the amount of progress that has been made. It is anticipated that significant progress on the project will have been made and that it is near completion.

2.     No later than the Friday following Spring Break, the student supplies the Thesis Committee with a complete version of the Thesis. The Committee will respond with comments within two weeks.

3.     The revised version of the Honors Thesis is due to the Committee and the Department at least one week before the public presentation (colloquium) of the research work. The presentation is not expected to exceed 30 minutes in length.

4.     The student participates in a 45-minute Honors Discussion that focuses on basic and fundamental physics topics, some of which will likely not be related to the student's research.

After the Honors Discussion, 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 Discussion. The final version of the Honors Thesis is due at the end of finals week.

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