Senior and Honors Research

Important Dates for Senior Theses (pdf)

Seniors are required to do a research project with a faculty member, to write the results in article form and to give a presentation on their work. Qualified seniors may choose to do a research project leading to a degree with Honors in Physics. Students have two options:

The student is expected to spend at least 3 hour per week on research for each registered credit hour. Research topics are generally chosen within the research programs in the Department.

Undergraduate research performed before the start of the senior year may be included as an integral part of the senior or honors thesis. Prior work may include summer research for which the student received a stipend. However, the grade for PHYS 451/452 or PHYS 495/496 and the award of honors will be based on work performed during the senior year.

All student research is overseen by the Research Coordinator, who is the Physics Department faculty member assigned to teach PHYS 451/452 or PHYS 495/496. Any questions concerning finding an advisor, general requirements or procedures should be directed first to the Research Coordinator.

The general structure of senior research is as follows:

  • After talking with faculty members, the student selects a willing advisor during the spring of the junior year.
  • The student requests a senior research course section to be created by filling up the following on-line form before the beginning of Fall registration window: 
    Physics Senior Research Section Request Form
    Note that the students applying for honors are not required to fill in the form, but should follow the Honors application procedure instead. They will be registered for honors research automatically by the Charles center once the application is approved.
  • The student signs up for either PHYS 451/452 or PHYS 495/496 in the fall and spring of the senior year. Exceptions to this pattern may be approved by the Research Coordinator.
  • The Research Coordinator is responsible for insuring that the Departmental Computing Requirements (programming ability, electronic literacy, symbolic mathematics and electronic publishing) have been met.
  • The student will present an interim research talk and paper in the last week of classes of the fall semester.
  • The student will defend orally the completed written thesis in the last week of classes of the spring semester.

The Charles Center and the Department of Physics jointly set the regulations for Honors Theses. The Department of Physics set the regulations for Senior Projects.

Dates to Remember
  • 4 weeks before last day of classes in junior year Initial applications should be submitted online
    Undergraduate committee reviews applications
  • 2 weeks before last day of classes in junior year
    Final Honors Thesis application turned in to the Chair of the Undergraduate Committee.
  • First Monday of classes in senior year
    Final Honors Thesis application turned in the Chair of the Undergraduate Committee for those who were overseas during the previous spring.
  • End of Drop/Add in first semester of senior year
    Honors projects: The form "Application of Admission to Departmental Honors" must be submitted to the Charles Center before this date. All research students: the title of your research topic and the name of your advisor must be given to the Research Coordinator.
  • One week before mid-term presentation for all research students
    Written report turned in to advisor and Research Coordinator
  • First Thursday noon of exam period
    Mid-term presentations must be complete
  • 4 weeks before last day of classes in senior year
    Complete draft of thesis turned in to advisor
  • 2 weeks before last day of classes in senior year
    Honors projects: Corrected complete draft of thesis passed out to members of the honors examination committee
  • 1 week before last day of classes in senior year
    Senior projects: Corrected complete drafts of the thesis given to your advisor and Research Coordinator
  • Thursday noon of last week of classes
    Final Honors presentations must be complete
  • Monday of first exam week
    Acid-free and electronic copies of the Honors thesis turned in to Research Coordinator
  • First Thursday noon of exam period
    Final Senior Thesis presentations must be complete
  • First Monday of second exam week
    Senior Research Students: Acid-free and electronic copies of the Senior thesis turned in