Undergraduate Thesis in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Body

Overview

The Department of Astronomy encourages all students to pursue research with a faculty member and to complete an undergraduate thesis. Research experience is particularly important for students who plan to pursue graduate study, although can be a rewarding and valuable experience for all students. Completion of a thesis is one of the requirements for graduation with Research Distinction (for non-Honors students) or with Honors Research Distinction (for Honors students), which is noted on a student's degree and permanent academic record.

Below is further information about how to complete an undergraduate thesis in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Advanced
Text

Requirements

The typical length of an undergraduate thesis is 20-60 pages of double-spaced text and figures. The oral defense is typically held the semester you intend to graduate and consists of a 30-minute presentation followed by questions for a total of one hour. 

Students should plan to work at least 3 hours per week per credit hour of Astronomy 4999/4999H. Click here for instructions on registering for Astronomy 4999/4999H credits and other information about research for academic credit.

Research Distinction (non-Honors) Requirements:

  • Completion of the course requirements of the Astronomy & Astrophysics major
  • Submission of a Thesis Application by the printed deadlines - generally the 4th Friday of the semester prior to the graduation semester (e.g., for a Spring graduation, the Thesis Application is due by the 4th Friday of the previous Autumn semester)
  • Completion of a minimum of 60 graded hours at Ohio State
  • Completion of at least 4 credits (and no more than 10 credits) of Astronomy 4999 research
  • Successful oral defense of the research project and completion of the thesis
  • Graduation with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade-point average

Honors Research Distinction Requirements:

  • Completion of the course requirements of the Astronomy & Astrophysics major
  • Completion of all requirements for the ASC Honors Program
  • Submission of a Thesis Application by the printed deadlines - generally the 4th Friday of the semester prior to the graduation semester (e.g., for a Spring graduation, the Thesis Application is due by the 4th Friday of the previous Autumn semester)
  • Completion of a minimum of 60 graded hours at Ohio State
  • Completion of at least 4 credits (and no more than 10 credits) of Astronomy 4999H research
  • Successful oral defense of the research project and completion of the thesis
  • Graduation with a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade-point average
Text

First Steps to Graduating with Research Distinction

If you are interested in graduating with research distinction, or if you're interested in getting more information about the process, please contact the following person based on your academic program:

Honors Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors: Please schedule an appointment with your Honors Advisor, Dr. Joanna Spanos, as per the instructions on this webpage. You can also find information on the ASC Honors website.

Non-Honors Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors: Please see the ASC Graduation & Research Distinction page for information regarding graduating with research distinction, including the Thesis Application and deadlines. If you have any questions, please schedule an appointment with Ed Quinn by calling the Arts and Sciences Advising Office at (614) 292-6961.

Please note that the rules and processes for research distinction are handled at the college level, not the department level, so the Undergraduate Contacts in the Department of Astronomy may be unable to answer questions about research distinction. Please consult with Dr. Joanna Spanos (Honors) or Ed Quinn (non-Honors) instead.

Further Information

Finding Research Opportunities

The Undergraduate Research Office has more information on getting involved in research. The office also hosts events highlighting student research and promotes funding opportunities for students engaging in research opportunities. The ASC Honors webpage also has information about getting involved in research.

Previous Examples

Previous undergraduate theses are stored at the Knowledge Bank at OSU Libraries and may be accessed via their Search Interface and searching for "Astronomy". To explore a growing selection of theses that were submitted for research distinction in Astronomy & Astrophysics, click here.

Preparing Your Thesis Format

Astronomy students typically prepare their thesis using the LaTeX markup package. For those who choose to do so, here is an Honors-Compliant Cover Page in LaTex courtesy of former student Tim Arnold. A free online LaTeX editor is Overleaf where you can check it out and experiment. LaTeX seems complicated at first but it is how most papers are typeset for academic journals.

Questions about Honors

For questions about entering the Honors program, please read the ASC Honors Program membership page.