Procedures for writing a Junior/Senior Thesis

The procedure for doing/registering for Jr. Sr. honors thesis is as follows.   Have a minimum cumulative  GPA 3.5 and math GPA  3.6.  Must have Junior/Senior standing when taking the second course, which must be Math 4971 (despite an error in some of the online info).   You do NOT need to be an honors student.

For each of you, Math 4020 or other captstone would be your first of the two course sequence (total 8 credits) required. [For others a directed study or Math 4970 could qualify]. Then write your proposal.

 Writing the Proposal

  1. (a) Write a short, 2 page proposal (700-1000 words) with title, outlining the project, mentioning the work done in the first course (Math 4020) and the planned work for the second course (which must be Math 4971).
    (b) You need to have an advisor (faculty member) and a thesis committee comprised of three approved by the math dept URC (could include postdoc).  Your application needs to be supported by two letters of recommendation (this can be short e-mail and is not a problem if you have taken Math 4020 and done well). One support letter or e-mail is from your advisor, and one from your capstone professor, or other Math Department Faculty. If a planned advisor is in another department, that advisor need approval from that department’s chair.
    (c) Then – after your advisor is happy with it -your proposal goes to the Math Dept Undergrad Research Committee. We approve it, perhaps after some comment and revision.
  2. (a) You download the on line application at: and have it signed by your advisor, and chair of Math Department and submit electronically to
    (b) You must next apply to register on a Directed Study form: (Mention Junior Senior Honors Math 4971) with your advisor signing. Standard Registrar form, 4 credit hours.
  3. Then COS approves and puts you on a list they keep. If you are not an honors student then COS gives the Registrar and Honors program permission to put an honors designation on your file, which allows the Registrar to register you. There is sometimes a delay while this is done, which could be several weeks into the new term.  Do not worry, but inform me of Prof. Jekel if there is an issue.

Later Steps:

  1. Meet regularly with Advisor and possibly others on your three person committee. Sometime a month before the end of Spring. COS will ask the Math Dept (usually me) to confirm the list of students to receive Jr-Sr Honors.  It may be helpful to have a midterm progress report on hand: that is, you write a midterm report and give to advisor for comment.
  2. You present the thesis to your 3 person committee for comment (2-4 weeks before the end of the term). They comment, you update.
  3. You give a talk to the Math Department, usually on Reading Day. Your 3 person committee makes a recommendation to the Math Dept URC re approving the Thesis, URC usually writes a short comment and approves it.


  • Students beginning a Junior-Senior Honors thesis are expected to have taken relevant math department undergrad courses before beginning the first course of a two course honors project. For example a student proposing a project in combinatorics, should have completed Math 3533 or material equivalent prior to beginning his/her project; a student proposing a project in finite fields or rings should have completed Math 3175 prior to beginning the first research project course, and is expected to complete Math 4576 Rings and Fields or an equivalent before graduation. A student studying traffic flow as a project might wish to have taken Math 4525 or 4545 before undertaking the project.
  • Acceptance into the second research course for a Junior-Senior Honors thesis must be preceded by approval by the URC of a research proposal and advisor. In addition, the student must submit evidence of having completed a first research course on this project, and as well appropriate Math Department and other courses to support work on the project, and expertise in the area of the project. The submission must be evaluated and approved by the math department URC before registration for the second course of a Junior-Senior honors project, and before completing the relevant online honors in the discipline intention form.
  • The URC will choose a three person committee including the thesis advisor to supervise the undergraduate thesis.

[An alternative beginning to the two course sequence would be an independent study, supervised by a faculty member, as the first course, in place of a capstone. The capstone itself cannot be the second course of a Jr-Sr. thesis, which must be Math 4971.]