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Mathematics & Statistics

College of Arts & Sciences

The Senior Honors Thesis represents an in-depth, capstone experience designed to provide honors students with opportunities to develop a deeper knowledge of mathematics, a closer intellectual interaction with faculty, and more complete preparation for their career goals. The Senior Honors Thesis must use primary materials in the field of study as well as secondary sources. It must be academically honest and in full compliance with ethical guidelines. An approved Senior Honors Thesis that has been orally presented in public is required for graduation as a Math Honors student from East Tennessee State University.

Typically, the Senior Honors Thesis is a year-long project for which the student enrolls for three hours credit during the last semester of the senior year. Initial preparation for the thesis should begin the previous semester, however, and should follow the approved timetable. A typical schedule requires that the student complete the majority of all library work plus initial analyses by the end of fall semester, so that the spring semester allows ample time for the actual writing of the thesis project. Throughout the project, each student should engage in careful planning, thorough research, thoughtful analysis, good writing, and enthusiastic work.

A senior honors student should choose a thesis committee in conjunction with the Math Honors Coordinator. The committee must consist of a thesis professor and a second reader, both from the Math Department, and a third reader who must come from outside the department. The thesis professor is responsible for directing the thesis and seeing that the student meets all deadlines and fulfills the expectations of the prospectus. A thesis director will receive one hour of DIS, up to a maximum of three hours per semester for three theses.

The thesis should be considered a manuscript that may be submitted for publication in a scholarly journal. It must follow the research guidelines established by the Math Department. The final copies must be permanently bound, but they may have a soft cover and/or spiral binding if the student chooses. Most students have binding done at a photocopying business and have four copies made: a required copy to be submitted to the Math Honors Coordinator, a required copy to be submitted to the University Honors Program, a copy to keep, and a copy to be given to the thesis professor as a courtesy.
The thesis should involve the student in intensive research of a topic in mathematics or mathematics teaching. It should be around 20 to 30 pages in length (though this can vary), the emphasis being on quality rather than quantity of work. References should include both texts and research papers. Students are strongly encouraged to prepare their theses in the math word processing software LaTeX.

The senior honors student should write a two to five page prospectus clearly describing the objective of the thesis, its scope and limitations, and a preliminary bibliography of seven to twelve sources to indicate that sufficient secondary material exists to support the thesis project. The prospectus should be signed by both the student and the thesis professor and should be shown to all faculty members who are asked to serve as readers. In writing the prospectus, keep in mind that it is good to be up front with what you will cover and what you will omit.

The Honors College Thesis Guidelines webpage gives more details on the honors thesis, including general guidelines not covered here, a thesis proposal form which must accompany the proposal, and a sample thesis title page.

The following timetable establishes deadlines based on spring (fall) thesis registration.

September 15 (January 26)

  • Choose a thesis professor in consultation with the Math Honors Coordinator.

October 1 (February 19)

  • Meet with the thesis professor and discuss a prospectus.

November 1 (March 19)

  • Sign the prospectus and present it to the thesis professor for his or her signature. Choose second and third reasders in consultation with the Math Honors Coordinator. Give copies of the signed prospectus to the coordinator and the readers.

February 15 (October 1)

  • Present the first draft of the thesis to the thesis professor for review.

March 15 (November 1)

  • Present the second draft of the thesis to the thesis professor and the second and third readers.

April 1 (November 9)

  • In conjunction with the Math Honors Coordinator, set a date for a thesis presentation to be completed before April 15. Make arrangements for publicity.

April 15 (November 30)

  • Submit two bound copies of the completed thesis, signed by the thesis professor, to the Math Honors Coordinator - one for the department and one for Honors. You may also want to give a copy to the thesis professor.

If you will be performing a study involving human subjects (for example, if you are studying some particular teaching technique and will study the behavior or reaction of students), the you will need IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval. Allow for the extra time which IRB approval will require.

The following examples of theses are available in PDF format:

  1. "Understanding the Concept of Division," Leanna Horton, Spring 2007. (Documents referenced in the thesis which are not present in the thesis are on file in the ETSU Math Department.)
  2. "A Mathematical Derivation of the General Relativistic Schwarzschild Metric," David Simpson, Spring 2007.
  3. "Happiness Levels in Random Graphs," Hamilton Scott, Spring 2008.
  4. "Graph Theorizing Peg Solitaire," Paul Hoilman, Fall 2010.
  5. "Numerical Study of the Effect of Blood Vessel Geometry on Plaque Formation," Lindsey Fox, Spring 2013.

ETSU Master's theses published since 2000 and Doctoral dissertations published since 1972 are available to current ETSU students, faculty, and staff online from ProQuest .

The majority of ETSU electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) are available online without restriction from Digital Commons @ ETSU.

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