Honors in Mathematics Department of Mathematics – Marist College M

Department of Mathematics – Marist College
Honors in Mathematics
(Approved 27 October 2010)
The Marist College Mathematics Department grants a student Honors in Mathematics in
order to indicate that the recipient has performed exceptionally as a mathematics major,
and has shown strong promise in a field of mathematics. Because the work of the advanced
scholar in mathematics involves not only the learning and creation of mathematics but also
the active sharing of those ideas with the larger mathematical community, such a student
will have demonstrated the the ability to work independently on a project of significant
depth and duration. The learning and research conducted by the student will have been at
a more advanced level than is typical for a mathematics major, and the student will have
disseminated the results publicly in both oral and written formats.
If you are considering trying to graduate with Honors in Mathematics, we encourage you
to start planning early. The project topic you choose is one you will work on at length, so
it should arouse your curiosity. You could build upon courses you have taken that interest
you strongly, or you could conduct research on a mathematics topic you have heard about
that piques your interest. Since many topics arise from an in-depth study of one field,
it is often a good idea to try to complete a two semester sequence in an area of interest
(for example, Complex and Mathematical Analysis, the Statistics sequence, the Algebra
sequence, or Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis). You should plan to complete
most of the required coursework for your major by the end of your junior year. This will
make it easier to choose a project topic, acquaint you with the research interests of the
mathematics faculty, and give you sufficient time to work on your project during your
senior year.
While the instructor of a course that interested you is a good place to start looking for an
advisor, there are many members of the department who have research ideas and might
be willing to guide you in your research. Keep in mind that guiding student research is
a big commitment for faculty members. It is rare that a professor can take on more than
one Honors student at at time, and in any given year there will be some faculty members
whose professional commitments prevent their being able to take on any Honors students
at all. Ask around among the faculty members you know. They may have suggestions for
potential topics and advisors even if they are unable to direct you themselves.
It is best to find an advisor and a project topic idea in your junior year, though there
certainly are successful students who started over the summer or even at the start of their
senior year. You and your advisor should determine the scope and direction of the research
project as early as possible—early in the fall of your senior year, ideally. Some of the best
projects are ones that were organized in the junior year, allowing for background reading
over the summer before the senior year.
Attending mathematics seminars and regional mathematics conferences is a great way to
start thinking about research topics, and you can start as early as freshman year. Do not
worry about being able to understand everything—the important thing is to be exposed to
as much mathematics as possible. The Mathematics Department hosts a seminar that meets
several times each semester, and there are local and regional mathematics conferences
designed specifically for undergraduate students. Talk to members of the mathematics
faculty to get more information on mathematics seminars and conferences.
Honors students must take a minimum of three independent study credits during their
senior year; most take six credits, three each in the fall and spring of their senior year. You
will be expected to meet regularly (typically at least weekly) with your advisor. Once you
and your advisor have agreed upon a project, you will write a brief summary of it that your
advisor will present to the Mathematics Department for approval.
Occasionally students have undertaken a simple independent study in the fall, and their
interest grows in the subject to the point that they would like to turn it into an Honors
project. This is possible up to a point (with the approval and support of your advisor),
but the Honors project must be presented to the department for approval no later than
the second week of the spring semester of your senior year. Be aware that the later in the
senior year a project is presented to the department, the less likely it is that the department
will look favorably upon it.
At the end of your senior year, you will be expected to present your results in one or more
public forums. Typically a short talk at an undergraduate research conference and/or
a presentation to the Marist Mathematics Seminar is expected. Participation in poster
sessions is also encouraged. You will need to write up your results as a paper—your Honors
thesis. This thesis should be copied and distributed to all members of the Mathematics
Department by the last day of final exams in the spring semester. The department will
then determine whether or not to award you with Honors in Mathematics.
In order to graduate with Honors in Mathematics, a student will be required to complete
the following steps:
• Have your advisor present your project proposal to the Mathematics Department for
formal approval no later than the end of the second week of classes in the spring
semester of your senior year.
• Conduct your research project as part of a 3- to 6-credit independent study during
your senior year.
• Present the results of your project in at least one approved public forum. Public
presentations may include:
– a talk or poster presentation at an undergraduate mathematics conference
– a talk or poster presentation at CURSCA
– a talk at the Marist College Mathematics Seminar.
The Mathematics Department may approve other forms and/or venues for public
presentation of Honors projects.
• Present the results of your project in written form (i.e., an Honors thesis) by the last
day of final exams in the spring semester of your senior year.
The following suggestions are intended to help increase your chances of success:
• Involve yourself in mathematics outside of class—go to local and regional mathematics conferences and seminars.
• Start planning early—begin looking for a project advisor and topic during your junior
• Try to complete most of the coursework for your major by the end of your junior year.
• Try to complete one or more of the following two-course sequences by the end of
your junior year:
– MATH 410, 411 – Abstract Algebra I, II
– MATH 330, 331 – Probability and Statistics, Applied Statistics
– MATH 420, 424 – Mathematical Analysis, Complex Analysis
– MATH 422, 440 – Applied Mathematics, Numerical Analysis