Honors Program

The Department of Physics and Optical Science offers a research-based honors program for undergraduate students. Students must complete a senior research project and maintain a minimum GPA in physics. To find out more about the Honors Program, talk to an undergraduate advisor in the Department.

Requirements for Graduation with Honors in Physics

The Honors program in Physics is research-based. Students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a research group. To receive Honors in Physics a student must complete a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. This research project normally takes 2 semesters to complete. Upon the successful completion of the Honors program in Physics, students receive Honors commendations at graduation. To graduate with Honor in Physics a student must:

  • Take a 3-hour honors section of Senior Project (PHYS 3900H) during the semester in which the student will complete their project
  • Receive an A in PHYS 3900H
  • Prepare a written honors thesis
  • Make a public presentation of the research results and defend the thesis before the student’s Honors committee
  • Maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in all physics classes.

Admission to the Honors Program

A student must submit the Application for Admission to Candidacy to the Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Physics and Optical Science early in the first semester of their graduating year. (For example, for May graduation the forms are due in the preceding October). This form and deadlines for submission can be found on the Honors College website. This form requires a detailed description of the research to be performed and the signatures of faculty members who have agreed to serve on the students’ Honor’s committee. The student’s research plan must be approved by the Department’s Undergraduate Committee and will then be sent to the University Honors Council for approval. After the approval process is complete the student may register for PHYS 3900H. Students should note that the approval process takes 1-2 months.

Completing the Honors Program

The student must complete the written honors thesis, public presentation of the research and defense of the project before the last day of classes of the semester during which PHYS 3900H is taken. The thesis should be a modeled on papers submitted to research journals in physics and should be at least 20 pages in length. The public presentation and defense normally will take place during the Undergraduate Research Conference in late April (for May graduation). Alternate arrangements for December graduation should be made in consultation with the Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Physics and Optical Science. The Undergraduate Advisor has the responsibility to notify the University Honors Council when a student has successfully completed the program.

The Honors Committee of the Physics Department

A students’ Honors committee must be composed of the faculty supervising the student’s research, the Undergraduate Advisor and one additional member chosen by the student and his or her research supervisor.


All students planning to graduate with honors must submit to the Honors College an Application to Candidacy Form with a thesis/project proposal by the deadline the semester PRIOR to the semester in which they expect to complete the thesis/project. This process includes review of the proposal by Honors Faculty and sometimes requires revisions. Plan ahead and contact your honors program director in your junior year to facilitate this process; he or she, as well as your thesis advisor and any reader(s), must review the proposal and approve it via signature before submission. This Application to Candidacy process is required before taking any honors thesis/project courses on campus. For more information, including the form, deadlines, and guidelines check the Honors College graduation process. Students who fail to complete this required step will not be able to proceed with the thesis/project, nor graduate with honors.