William and Mary

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 Senior Project (1-3 credits of Physics 451 and 1-3 credits of Physics 452)
  • The Honors Thesis (3 credits of Physics 495 and 3 credits of Physics 496)
    • A QPA greater than 3.0 is required for honors.
    • Honors students must take Physics 303 and 351, as well as either Physics 314 or 402.

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 Physics 451/452 (Physics 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 Physics 451/2 and Physics 495/6. 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 notifies the Research Coordinator of the project at this time.
  • The student signs up for either 451/2 or 495/6 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