Honors Program

Honors Program in Applied Mathematics

The following description of the honors program applies to concentrators in Applied Mathematics (APMA), APMA-Biology, APMA-Computer Science (with primary APMA advisor), and APMA-Economics (with primary APMA advisor). 

In the following, the term "courses in the concentration" refers to courses that appear in the student's course plan in their concentration declaration.

Important deadlines




Declare intention to pursue honors

End of 3rd week of 7th semester

submit completed honors declaration form to applied mathematics department

Submit honors thesis

April 15 (spring graduates) and October 15 (fall graduates)

submit written thesis to advisor and 2nd reader

Presentation of honors thesis

April 20 (spring graduates) and October 20 (fall graduates)

present thesis at departmental presentation day


We strongly recommend that students who wish to pursue honors find an honors thesis advisor by the end of their junior year.

Becoming an honors candidate 

 Students who

  • are in good academic standing,
  • have demonstrated excellence in grades for courses in the concentrations
  •  and, have taken no more than one (AB) or two (ScB) upper-level courses in the concentration for S/NC

are eligible to become honors candidates.

To declare are their intention to pursue honors, students must

  • prepare a written outline of the thesis project,
  • secure a faculty advisor and a second reader for their proposed thesis project (one of the two advisors/readers must be an Applied Mathematics faculty member), and
  • submit a completed Honors Declaration Form to Jean Radican (APMA Department)

by the third week of their 7th semester.

Pursuing honors during senior year 

Once accepted as honors candidates, students need to

  • complete two semesters of independent-study or research-directed courses such as APMA 1970, BIOL 1950/1960, CSCI 1970, ECON 1960/1970, or similar independent study courses,
  • meet regularly, as agreed upon, with their honors thesis advisor and provide regular written drafts on the thesis project,
  • submit a final thesis document by April 15 (spring graduates) or October 15 (fall graduates) to their thesis advisor and the second reader, and
  • present the senior thesis at the departmental presentation day in the applied mathematics department.

Requirements for being recommended for honors

Each of the following criteria will be used by the department to determine whether an honors candidate will be recommended for honors: 

1.   Excellence in grades for courses in the concentration1, and no more than one (AB) or two (ScB) upper-level courses in the concentration taken for S/NC.

2. Consistently demonstrated superior quality of grades and work across all courses taken at Brown (this requires, in particular, that, during honors candidacy, students satisfy the conditions for good academic standing and have had no violations of the Academic Code of Conduct).

3.   Completion of at least two semesters of project work with a faculty member in applied mathematics or a closely related field, demonstrated by completing two independent-study or research-directed courses such as APMA 1970, BIOL 1950/1960, CSCI 1970, ECON 1960/1970, or similar independent study courses.

4.  Satisfactory evaluation of the written senior thesis by the honors thesis advisor and the second reader (at least one of the two readers must be an APMA faculty member) based on the honors thesis rubric appended below.

5.  Presentation of the senior thesis at a departmental Presentation Day in one of the departments involved.   

Honors Thesis Rubric 

Mathematical Content:

  • Research problem: The thesis should be written on a mathematical problem or on an application that is approached using mathematical techniques. The thesis should demonstrate that the research question is significant and important.
  • Thoroughness: The thesis should put the research problem into a broader context, address it in a convincing and thorough manner, and use mathematical approaches that are sound, feasible, and appropriate to the research problem.
  • Depth: The thesis should involve mathematics at the level of 1000-level APMA courses and should demonstrate a solid understanding of the mathematics used in the thesis.

Writing Quality:

  • Organization: The thesis should have a clear and coherent organization that effectively develops the central idea. There is an introduction that includes a clear statement of the research problem and an outline of the research method. Throughout the paper, arguments are presented clearly and in logical order, and the conclusions are precise and concise. The thesis does contain awkward or unexpected transitions.
  • Clarity: The thesis must be clearly written; in particular, the mathematical content must be clear to the intended audience. It should be clear from the writing that the student has a correct and complete understanding of the mathematical content of the thesis. Assertions are clearly stated and well supported.
  • Citations: All sources used in the thesis should be referenced and cited completely and correctly: it should become clear what information from other sources has been integrated into the thesis and where that information came from. The bibliography should also contain an accurate and reasonably complete list of related works and papers.
  • Grammar and Orthography: The thesis should be properly formatted and free of errors of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The tone should be professional. 

1Grades in the concentration within the upper 20% of the student’s cohort or a GPA of 3.7 or above of courses in the concentration demonstrate excellence; courses taken S/NC are not counted for the GPA.