One option to fulfill the senior project requirement is to write a senior honors thesis. Writing an honors thesis invovles undertaking a research project under the direction of a faculty member. Because this project must lead to a thesis, pure implementation projects such as those typically approved for CS191 are not appropriate for honors work. Implementation will often represent a significant component of the work, but students must be prepared to analyze their results as well. Admission to the honors program is intended for computer science undergraduates who have done well in their undergraduate coursework and have demonstrated strong potential for research.
Students interested in applying to the honors program must have a 3.6 GPA in courses counted towards the CS major. They must also have senior standing (135 units) by the end of the academic year in which they apply. Coterminal masters students are eligible as long as they have not already received their undergraduate degree. Students must also find a faculty member in CS who agrees to supervise the research and thesis work. According to Stanford's guidelines, research supervisors for theses must be members of the Academic Council. In general, this requirement means that a research supervisor will be listed as some level of "Professor" in the Stanford Bulletin. For guidance on finding an appropriate project and supervisor, see the undergraduate research page.
Applications must include an application letter (typically 3-5 pages) describing the research project and the applicant's background, a short letter of endorsement from the faculty sponsor, and an unofficial transcript.
These qualifications are necessary but do not do not guarantee admission to the honors program. Honors students will be selected from the qualified applicants by a review committee. Applications for the honors program are due in Claire Stager's office by May 1 of each year. Successful applicants will be notified by May 15. For students participating in CURIS, there is a second end-of-summer application deadline of August 31. If admitted to the honors program, Summer quarter CURIS projects may be extended through the following year and used as honors projects the faculty sponsor agrees to the extension.
Once accepted into the honors program, students must complete the following requirements.
- Complete at least 9 units of CS191 or CS191W.
- Attend a weekly honors seminar during winter and spring quarters.
- Complete an honors thesis deemed acceptable by your thesis advisor and another faculty member.
- Present the thesis at a public colloquium sponsored by the department.
- Maintain the 3.6 GPA required for admission to the honors program.
Although such a project may sound like a great deal of work, the honors program is the capstone experience for many students' undergraduate careers and provides excellent preparation for those interested in pursuing advanced research at the Ph.D. level.