Departmental Honors in Physics
The Departmental Honors Program in Physics is available to superior students who wish to have a research focus in their major. The requirements for this program are listed below. Students who successfully complete the requirements for departmental honors in physics will be so recognized on their academic records as well as in the commencement program. It is expected that work done in the departmental Honors Program will not replace the regular course work of the major but will be taken in addition to that work.
Students who wish to participate in the Departmental Honors Program in physics may apply for the program or be nominated for it by a member of the Physics Department faculty. Application or nomination for this program is normally made no earlier than the spring semester of the sophomore year and no later than the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Provisional acceptance will be based on: 1) faculty recommendations, 2) performance in courses in the department and related areas, 3) a grade point average of 3.5 or better both overall and in the major (departmental and related course work), and 4) completion of the Application and Committee Request Forms.
Upon acceptance, the student will select a supervising professor from the physics faculty. Under the direction of this supervising professor, the student will complete a minimum of six (6) credits of directed research, or 4 credits of directed research and a related summer research experience judged by the department as being equivalent to at least 2 credits of directed research.
After a thesis topic has been determined by the student and the supervising professor, an additional two persons will be selected to serve on the Thesis Advisory Committee. At least one of these persons should be from outside the Physics Department. The function of this committee is to supervise and periodically assess the progress of the student's research.
The first semester (or the first summer) of directed research is regarded as probationary. During this term the student, in conjunction with the supervising professor, will perform exploratory work to determine the feasibility of the proposed research project, acquire library materials and learn the experimental and/or theoretical techniques needed to carry on the proposed research. Before the end of that time period, the student, under the direction of the supervising professor, shall prepare a prospectus for presentation to the Thesis Advisory Committee. If, at that time, it is the consensus of the Thesis Advisory Committee that this preparatory work has demonstrated a reasonable expectation of the investigation to produce fruitful results, the student will be accepted as a Physics Departmental Honors Candidate.
At least two additional semesters of directed research will be required for completion of the project. Evaluation of these courses of directed research will be on a satisfactory progress (X) or fail (F) basis.
The results of this research will be evaluated by the Thesis Advisory Committee using all of the following criteria: 1) An oral defense of the work. 2) A senior thesis written, under the direction of the supervisory professor, in an acceptable journal style with one copy of the thesis submitted to each advisory committee member and two copies to the departmental chairperson. 3) A presentation of the research results at the physics senior seminar or at an acceptable scientific meeting.
After the evaluation has been completed, the Thesis Advisory Committee will assign a final grade of A, B, C, D, or F to the honors project. The Thesis Advisory Committee will notify the Physics Department chair of the completion of the evaluation and the grade awarded. The chair will then instruct the Registrar to denote on the student's permanent transcript "Departmental Honors in Physics" completed and to record the appropriate grade. The Registrar will also list departmental honors with the student's name on the commencement program.
Application forms for the Departmental Honors Program in Physics may be obtained from the Physics Department chair or from other members of the department faculty.