Requirements Overview

The Chemistry Honors program requires three semesters of research and culminates in the writing and defense of an honors thesis and the presentation of a departmental seminar. The minimum requirements qualifying a student for Departmental Honors include a 3.33 grade point average, both cumulatively and in the major. Students must complete all requirements detailed below and obtain final approval in order to graduate with Chemistry Honors.

Initial Approval to Pursue an Honors Thesis

Students planning to write an Honors Thesis in Chemistry should discuss research opportunities with at least three faculty members. Normally the choice of research mentor will be made in the first semester of the Junior year, although students with extraordinary research experience, including research during a summer, may defer the choice of research director until the start of the Senior year. The student will submit an application for Chemistry Honors to the department chair no later than the 2nd week of the fall semester of the senior year. The application will include the name of the student, the name of the research mentor, the title of the research project, and a brief summary of the project aims. The application must be signed by the research mentor. The student will also submit an unofficial transcript as part of the application.

Research Credit Requirement

Students are required to complete a minimum of nine credit hours of research normally arranged over three semesters. Six of these hours must be taken in the Senior year and devoted to the thesis research by the completion of CHEM 4399 in each semester of the Senior year. The remaining three credit hours can be earned by completing the equivalent of three credits of CHEM 3190 or summer research, and completing final research reports in all terms. If a student has worked full-time on research related to the thesis for a minimum of ten weeks during one summer and has completed a report on this research, then the department chair may waive the requirement for three of the nine credit hours by substituting this requirement with summer research.


The thesis committee is composed of the research mentor and one additional faculty member from the Department of Chemistry. The thesis student and research mentor should identify an appropriate faculty member and request their involvement as a committee member sometime in the Fall of the Senior year. The committee should be fully formed by the end of the Fall of the Senior year.

Guidelines for the Thesis Document

A complete draft of the thesis should be submitted one month prior to the spring deadline for submitting the thesis to Academic Affairs (typically in mid-April). The thesis will include the following sections (ask the research mentor for an example):

  • Formal title page with signatures for committee members and Dean of the School of
  • Copyright agreement page
  • Acknowledgements Section (optional)
  • Table of contents
  • Thesis Introduction (Chapter 1)
  • Scientific Chapters
  • Introduction
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Experimental Methods
  • References
  • Appendices or Supplementary Information (optional)

The document should be produced on letter-size paper (8.5” x 11”) with 1.5” left margin (for binding) and 1” right, top, and bottom margins. The printed document should be single-sided. Text should be double-spaced, 12-point font. All figures should be numbered and include captions. All tables should be numbered and included titles. The format for the figures, tables, and bibliography should follow the ACS style guide.

Guidelines for the thesis seminar/defense

The seminar/defense must be scheduled at least one week before the spring deadline for submitting the thesis to Academic Affairs (typically in mid-April). The seminar is a full length, formal platform presentation that is open to faculty, students, and visitors. The defense is held immediately after the seminar, but it is a closed-door discussion with the faculty. All thesis committee members must be present for the seminar and defense.

Process for when a student does not complete all of the requirements

At any point during the process, the faculty mentor or the student can decide to stop the pursuit of Chemistry Honors. In either case, the student or faculty member must contact the other as soon as possible and provide justification. If the student is signed up for course credit (e.g., CHEM 4399 or CHEM 3190), then it is expected that the student will complete the course as though it were any independent study/research course. If this occurs in the graduating semester, then the student would receive credit for CHEM 4395 instead of CHEM 4399.

If the student does not complete a satisfactory thesis document, or does not give a satisfactory thesis seminar, or does not pass the thesis defense, then they would not receive Chemistry Honors, and for the graduating semester they would receive credit for CHEM 4395 instead of CHEM 4399.


See the Courses of Study Bulletin for Trinity policy information for departmental/major honors and university honors.