Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is a research project, original or expository, or a combination of both, typically performed under the direction of a faculty member at the University of Rochester. If a compelling case is made, work may be performed under the direction of a faculty member from another department, another university or research center or a private corporation or by a graduate student. In all instances, you must have a faculty member of the mathematics department of the University of Rochester as a co-advisor to your thesis if your primary advisor is not a faculty member or is outside the department.

The Honors thesis write-up must be at least 20 pages long (counting bibliography and figures) and include a thorough introduction and reference section. The honors thesis must be presented in a public lecture at the Department of Mathematics in the presence of the Thesis Committee, consisting of the thesis advisor and at least two members of the Undergraduate Research Committee. If the advisor is a member of the Undergraduate Research Committee, one of the remaining members of the thesis committee need not be a member.

Upon the completion of the presentation, the advisor and committee member must fill out and sign the honors form if they feel the honors thesis meets the requirements.

Undergraduate Research Committee (2023-2024):

  • Jonathan Pakianathan (chair)
  • Dan Geba
  • Alex Iosevich
  • Naomi Jochnowitz
  • Saul Lubkin

The following professors have also volunteered to help fill Honors Talk Committees and are considered official delegates of the undergrad research committee also.

  • Steve Gonek
  • Allan Greenleaf
  • Sevak Mkrtchyan
  • Carl Mueller
  • Dinesh Thakur


Students who wish to write an honors thesis are strongly encouraged to begin the planning process early.

They must register for two units of Math 395W in the either the spring of fall semester of senior year (or, rarely, Spring of junior year).

By the end of February of the semester of graduation, they should provide the following information to the Undergraduate Research Committee:

  • The name of the advisor
  • The names of the remaining two members of the Thesis Committee (Note that at least two out of the three members of the thesis committee must be members of the Undergraduate Research Committee.)
  • A tentative title and a rough description of the research

By noon on April 10, the student must send a good draft of the honors thesis to the Thesis Committee and the chair of the Undergraduate Research Committee, Jonathan Pakianathan. The Thesis Committee members are expected to send a list of corrections and suggestions to the author within a week. This will give the author an opportunity to make the appropriate adjustments to the thesis prior to the presentation.

By noon on April 12, the honors thesis presentation is to be scheduled so that the Thesis Committee can all attend. The scheduled date and time should be sent to Undergraduate Research Committee chair Jonathan Pakianathan and Math Department Coordinator Kimberly Toal, so as to be announced to the larger community and so that we can reserve a room if the talk is "in person" or set up a zoom room if it is online.

Ideally, your honors thesis presentation is scheduled on a weekday, between 9AM and 5PM and avoids conflicts with other thesis talks. Most thesis presentations should aim to scheduled between Monday, April 15 and Friday, May 10. The presentation outcome will be reported by your committee to Prof. Carl Mueller who will communicate it to the registrar by the senior grade deadline of Tuesday, May 14.

The presentation is a 50-minute talk, with 10 minutes of questions by the general audience, followed by anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes of closed-door questions from the committee.

The student then steps out, the committee discusses, and then the committee should then communicate the results to the student, sign the form, and turn it in to the front office.

See samples of past honors papers.