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Honors in the Major

The honors program is intended for students who have strong theoretical interests and abilities in mathematics. The goal of the program is to give students a thorough introduction to the main branches of mathematics, especially analysis, algebra, and geometry. Through the honors thesis, students may be introduced to a current research topic, although occasionally more classical projects are encouraged. The program provides an excellent background with which to enter a Master’s or Ph.D. program in Mathematics. Students completing the program are awarded a B.S. in Mathematics with Honors.

It is strongly recommended that either the Math 60CM sequence or the Math 60DM sequence be taken during the student’s freshman year. This is a recommendation, not a requirement.

Honors Requirements

Course Requirements

The math major requirements are required of all Math majors. 

These must include:

  • Math 116 or Math 143 or Math 144 or Math 147 (4 units)
  • Math 120 (4 units)
  • Math 171 (4 units)
  • Math 198 (6 units taken over 2-3 quarters)

7 Additional Math Courses Numbered 121 or Higher, in addition to the courses above. 

PHIL 151 and PHIL 152 can be used for this but STATS 116 and STATS 118 cannot. These courses must include at least one course from each of the three areas below. All required courses must be taken for a letter grade.

One required Algebra course from:

  • Math 121
  • Math 122
  • Math 145
  • Math 152
  • Math 154

One required Analysis course from:

  • Math 136
  • Math 151
  • Math 155
  • Math 172
  • Math 173
  • Math 175

One required Geometry/Topology course from:

  • Math 117
  • Math 142
  • Math 143
  • Math 144
  • Math 147
  • Math 148

One graduate level class (recommended, not required):

  • Math 205A
  • Math 210A
  • Math 215A
  • Math 215B

Note: The following courses do not count toward this requirement:

  • Math 193 & Math 193X 
  • Math 197 
  • Math 198 

One 3-unit Math 199 course may count towards this requirement with approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to the start of the course. Honors students must submit the request to mathstudentservices [at] (mathstudentservices[at]stanford[dot]edu) two weeks before the start of the quarter for review. The criteria for approval includes weekly homework graded by the instructor and topic coverage appropriate for Math honors.

GPA Requirement

Honors students must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 across all Math courses to apply to the program.

Declaring Honors

Steps to Declare Honors

Choose a Thesis Advisor

Choose a Math faculty Academic Council member as your honors thesis advisor and meet with them for guidance and direction to map out a plan for the thesis.

Complete the Honors Declaration form with your advisor

Student and advisor must complete and sign the Honors Math Major Declaration Form

Declare Honors in Axess
Submit the Honors Form

Submit the completed and signed form to the department’s Student Services Office in person or send an email to mathstudentservices [at] (mathstudentservices[at]stanford[dot]edu).

Await Review

Your declaration will be reviewed soon after submitting the Honors Math Major Declaration Form to the department’s Student Services Specialist. You will receive an email letting you know when your honors declaration has been approved in Axess or letting you know if there are any questions.

Honors Timelines and Considerations

When to Apply

Students should wait to apply for and declare honors until winter quarter of their junior year, but no later than the last day of classes in spring quarter of junior year.

Before you declare honors in Axess, set up meeting with the Math faculty member you’re interested in working with. If you do not know whom you’d like to work with, talk with your major advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies for guidance. Print out a transcript to bring to the meeting and share your interests and ideas for your thesis.

MATH 197 and Thesis Writing

To enroll in Math 197, first go over your plan with your thesis advisor.  Once the plan is confirmed, forward the Student Services Office at mathstudentservices [at] (mathstudentservices[at]stanford[dot]edu) an email with the thesis advisor’s approval (or if you met in person, an email sharing the plan and copying the advisor on the email) and for how many units. The advisor’s Math 197 section will then be added to Axess for you to enroll.  The department strongly recommends that honors majors take Math 197 for two units per quarter for 3 consecutive quarters.

As you work on your thesis, you are expected to have check-ins with your thesis advisor throughout each quarter you are enrolled in Math 197, including submitting drafts and getting feedback. See the Math 197 guidelines for more information.


A draft is due in early/mid-May to the department if you are interested in being considered for the Firestone and departmental honors thesis awards.