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Chemistry & Biochemistry

Departmental Honors Program in Chemistry & Biochemistry



The purpose of departmental honors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is to recognize outstanding students and encourage them to pursue an undergraduate program that will challenge their abilities, expose them to research problems, and prepare them to excel in graduate studies or other rewarding professional careers. In addition to meeting the minimum graduation requirements, students receiving honors will explore their interests and capabilities in advanced courses and in independent research. This will enable students to better assess their interests and abilities regarding career choices and to develop skills beyond the typical curriculum.


Gaining honors in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry shall consist of satisfying all of the criteria, as determined by the department faculty, in the three areas below.

  1. Grade-point Average
  2. Academic excellence is expected in the various areas of basic chemistry to be awarded departmental honors. Therefore the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry requires that students have achieved a GPA of at least 3.50 overall and 3.30 in the major after the fall semester of the senior year.

  3. Presentations
  4. At least once during the research project, the student must present both a poster and a talk at a research symposium sponsored by the Senior Research course, or by the School of Health and Natural Sciences. An additional presentation is expected at an off-campus venue to be determined in consultation with the supervising faculty member.

  5. The Honors Thesis
  6. The successful completion of the honors degree program will be based, in part, upon the majority of the department returning a positive evaluation of a written honors thesis. This means that simply submitting an honors thesis is no guarantee that honors will be awarded*. However, the student should expect periodic feedback from the research advisor about the appropriateness and quality of the honors research. Research Methods (CHEM 393) is required as part of the preparation for honor's level research.

    The student must submit an initial draft of the thesis to each faculty member in the department at least one week prior to the date of the defense. The final version of the thesis is due by April 8. The thesis is based on a combination of Junior research (CHEM322), summer research, and major honors research (CHEM497/CHEM498) for a total of 4-6 credits. Students should finish all required experimental work by February 28 of their senior year to allow adequate time for the preparation of the thesis. Copies of the honors thesis are kept by the research advisor and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

  7. The Honors Defense
  8. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry requires that students successfully defend the honors thesis in an oral presentation to the whole department. The successful completion of the honors degree program will be based, in part, upon the majority of the department returning a positive evaluation of the oral thesis defense. This means that simply presenting an honors thesis is no guarantee that honors will be awarded. The honors defense should be 40-45 minutes long followed by approximately 30 minutes of questions. This will be scheduled during the spring semester of the student's senior year.

Thesis Guidelines

The document must be double-spaced using 12-point Times-Roman or Cambria font with pages numbered.

Citations must be formatted using the ACS style. The reference list should be provided at the end of the document and not as footnotes.

Schemes, figures, equations, etc. should be numbered and must be embedded into the document. All such diagrams should be high quality and commensurate with requirements for submission to an ACS journal.

The first page of the document should contain the thesis title, name of research advisor, student name, and dates that the research was performed. An introduction that places the research in appropriate context (including relevant background material and citations) should follow the title page. The bulk of the thesis should contain an experimental section, and a results and discussion section to present the research accomplished. The document should finish with a conclusion, acknowledgements, and the list of citations.

There is no minimum/maximum page length for the thesis however, it is anticipated that the typical document will consist of approximately 25 pages.

* The guideline for a positive evaluation is: research of sufficient quality and quantity so that it could be used in peer-reviewed publishable work.