Stanford University

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 do an open-ended research project or something more expository (at an advanced level). 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.

Many students who plan to get an Honors degree in Math take a Math 60’s course in each of the three quarters of their first year. Since much of the material in the Math 60’s courses is also covered in a variety of 100-level courses, and Math 60’s is not a requirement for Honors, those who don’t take Math 60’s courses can also earn an Honors degree (fulfilling the same Honors requirements as described below).

Before declaring, we expect that students will have completed four 100-level Math classes out of the ten required with at least a B. This expectation is intended to ensure that students are well prepared for Honors and thesis work. 

See course requirements: Honors Requirements 

Note: Math courses taken during Spring 2020 or during the 2020-21 academic year that ordinarily count toward the Math major will still be valid if taken S/NC (Spring 2020) or CR/NC (2020-21). These will not count against the limit of 6 CR/NC elective units that may be applied towards the major. Transfer credits for courses taken elsewhere during Spring 2020 or the 2020-21 academic year and judged equivalent to Stanford courses will be treated the same as those Stanford courses.

Guidance and Expectations

  • To be eligible to apply for and graduate with honors, students must have an average GPA of at least a 3.3 across all Math classes counting towards the major.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • To enroll in Math 197, first go over your plan with your thesis advisor.  Once the plan is confirmed, forward the Student Services Specialist 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.

  • 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.

Declaring Honors

  1. Declare Honors in Axess.
  2. Choose a Math faculty Academic Council member as your honors thesis advisor and meet with him/her for guidance and direction to map out a plan for the thesis.
  3. Student and advisor must complete and sign the Honors Math Major Declaration Form.
  4. Submit the completed and signed Honors Math Major Declaration Form to the department’s Student Services Specialist.
  5. 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 if there are any questions.

Honors Checklist

Use the Honors Checklist to help plan your courses and track your completion of the honors requirements.