Physics Department Honors Program
The physics faculty seeks to recognize high achievement through awarding departmental honors. Students receiving this distinction will have an excellent record of course work and significant research experience.
1. In order to be considered for departmental honors a student will need to apply to the department. The application is to be submitted to the departmental Honors Advisor. As students must have senior standing before registering for honors credit, the application will usually be done late in the junior year. Students may apply during the senior year but must do so at least one semester before graduation.
2. The student’s grade point average in physics, mathematics, and all other courses required for the major will be at least 3.50 . This would include courses taken at another university, e.g. courses taken as part of the 3-2 engineering program. The minimum grade point average for all courses taken for the bachelor’s degree will be 3.20
3. Evidence that the student is able to carry out a scientific investigation requires completion of a research project that exhibits originality and has significant physics content. While working on the project, the student must have senior standing and register for at least four credit hours of PHY 480, Departmental Honors. This will typically occur during the fall and/or spring semesters of the senior year. However, credit hours for PHY 488, Research Capstone, including those earned during the summer following the junior year, may be counted toward the required four hours. Specific requirements for the project include all of the following:
a) Submission of a written honors thesis to the professor who supervised the project, the departmental Honors Advisor, and the members of the thesis defense committee (see Section 3.c). Where appropriate, this thesis may be the same report used to meet a research capstone requirement, or it may be the same as the student’s university honors thesis.
b) Acceptance of a research paper by a refereed, scientific journal or acceptance of an abstract for a paper to be presented at a meeting of a professional scientific society. The meeting may be regional, national, or international. Abstracts for papers/posters do not have to be refereed. While it is preferred that the student make the presentation, this is not required for the student to receive honors. Although the professional meeting may occur after the deadline for the department to approve honors, the abstract of the paper must be accepted before the student may be awarded honors by the department. If the student does not make the presentation at the professional meeting, then the student will either (1) make an oral presentation to the department or (2) present the research at a Miami University-sponsored event, e.g. an undergraduate research fair.
c) Satisfactory performance in an oral defense on his/her research project. The defense will be before a committee of three faculty members and will last no more than one hour. The student will begin by making a short (no longer than fifteen minutes) presentation summarizing the work and will then respond to questions from the committee members. The defense committee will consist of the professor who supervised the research and two other faculty members selected by that professor and the student. Where appropriate, one member of the committee may be a professor from another department. In cases where the work was done off-campus, e.g. at NIST, the committee will be selected by the Honors Advisor and the student. But in all cases, there will be at least two Miami physics faculty on the committee. The defense will be open to all physics faculty, but the committee members will be solely responsible for evaluating the student’s performance.