During the student's senior year (or earlier), a student majoring in mathematics will ask a faculty member to act as the mentor for their Senior Comprehensive Project. The student may make this request of any faculty member. The student and faculty member will work together to select a topic related to an upper-level mathematics course that the student has taken or is currently taking as the subject for the project. This topic should delve into material beyond the scope of the course. Under the guidance of the faculty mentor, the student will develop this topic to produce a paper. The student will then give a talk, based on that paper, to the department faculty, other math majors, and any additional interested parties. The student should register for MATH 492. Senior Comprehensive Project for their graduation semester.
Students working on their Senior Comprehensive Project are encouraged to consult our page on Typing Mathematics: Word, TeX, and PowerPoint.
The following deadlines must be met to insure that the project is completed in time for a May graduation. Please see the next section for the deadlines for December graduates.
Those mathematics majors graduating in December must meet with their academic adviser the previous spring to set up an appropriate timetable for their senior comprehensive project. Items to be accomplished before the start of the graduation semester may be done the preceding spring semester or, by agreement with the faculty mentor, the preceding summer.
The paper will typically be about ten double-spaced pages in length, not including the title page and the bibliography. The Mathematics Department faculty, including all tenured and tenure-track faculty, will read the paper and evaluate it on the basis of the scoring rubric (provided in a separate document).
Each faculty reader will grade the paper on a modified pass/fail basis, and notify the mentor whether the paper has received a pass, a conditional pass, or a fail. Comments to guide the student in preparing their talk, and revising their paper, should that be necessary, will be included with the grade. A pass means that the faculty reader considers the paper to be acceptable and recommends that the student move on to preparing their talk, taking into account any comments or suggestions made by the faculty reader. A conditional pass means that the faculty reader would like to see some minor changes made in the paper (and incorporated into the talk), but recommends that the student proceed to prepare their talk. A fail means that the faculty reader does not consider the paper to be acceptable in its present form. Reasons will be provided by the faculty reader for the failure.
The paper will be accepted if no more than one faculty reader has failed the paper. If the paper is not accepted initially, the student will resubmit the paper after making corrections to address the concerns raised by readers.
After the paper is accepted, the student will develop the talk from the paper. The talk should be approximately 30 minutes long, followed by a question-and-answer period.
The talk will be graded by the readers who graded the paper. Grading will be based on the rubric (provided in a separate document).
The talk will be graded either pass or fail, and will be accepted if no more than one of the faculty readers present fails the talk. Any talk that is not accepted initially will be given again with adjustments made to resolve problems noted by the faculty.
A student must have both the paper and the talk accepted to complete the Senior Comprehensive Requirement.
An honors project in mathematics with a grade of C or better will fulfill the Senior Comprehensive Requirement.
Last revised October 30, 2014.
The Senior Comprehensive Project became a requirement for a mathematics degree in 2006, so the first projects were completed in the spring of 2007.
Application forms, procedures and additional information
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