Honors and Independent Study

Advanced students are encouraged to pursue an independent study project, which is often done in conjunction with an ongoing faculty research project. Independent study projects in fields with strong interdisciplinary ties to computer science are also encouraged.

Independent study provides a special opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest. Participation in faculty research provides an excellent introduction to the kind of independent thinking that is required in both graduate study and the rapidly advancing computing field itself. Majors with an outstanding academic record are encouraged to pursue honors work during their senior year. 

Honors in computer science provides a special opportunity to pursue an extensive project as a computer scientist. An honors project, which consists of a year of independent study work including a substantial research component, is requisite to being graduated with honors in computer science.

Students interested in honors are encouraged to contact their advisor or a faculty member with appropriate research interests by the end of their junior year.

Honors, if awarded, may be at any of three levels: honors, high honors, and highest honors. The judgement regarding any award of honors is made by the Department based on the year's work as described in the written thesis and the oral presentation, and on the student's overall record in the Department. 

Honors, Publications, and Prizes

Majors with an outstanding academic record are encouraged to pursue honors work during their senior year. Honors in computer science provides a special opportunity to pursue an extensive project as a computer scientist. Honors projects can lead to coauthorship of a paper and the opportunity to attend an international conference. A book is awarded, as a prize, annually in the fall to a senior who has achieved the highest distinction in the computer science major program.

Honors Project Overview

Three papers and presentations are required for the successful completion of an honors project in the computer science department. All deadlines and dates, once fixed, cannot be changed, except in unusual and compelling circumstances.

Fall Semester

A mid-semester paper and presentation and an end-of-semester paper and presentation are required. 

Mid-Semester 

This paper and presentation should contain a clear explanation of the problem you are attacking, a review of the relevant literature, and a description of what you are proposing to do. The exact date of the presentation will be determined at the beginning of the semester, but will take place during the last week of October. Copies of the paper should be distributed to all faculty members no less than one week before the presentation.

End-of-Semester

This paper and presentation should expand on the proposed project work, describing any preliminary results and describing in detail the work you expect to do during the spring semester, including a timeline. The presentation will take place on the first day of reading period that does not fall on a weekend. Again, copies of the paper should be distributed to all faculty members no less than one week before the presentation.

Spring Semester

The final paper and presentation will take place on the first day of reading period that does not fall on a weekend. Although the talk should focus on your spring semester work, it should be a comprehensive account of your project, including materials presented in previous talks (e.g., the literature review), although material presented previously should be presented in less detail. Note that copies of the final paper should be distributed to all faculty members no less than ten days before the presentation.

Timetable for pursuing an honors project