Undergraduate Thesis in Astronomy & Astrophysics



The Astronomy Department encourages all students to pursue research with a faculty member through application to our Summer Undergraduate Research Program and then 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.

A research thesis optionis  available to any student with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. This option complements the existing thesis option for Honors Students. More information is available at the Undergraduate Research Office's website on the Undergraduate Research Thesis.

Below is further information about how to complete an undergraduate thesis in astronomy.


Graduation with (Honors) Research Distinction requires:

  • Completion of the course requirements of the Astronomy & Astrophysics major
  • Completion of at least 6 credits of 4999H
  • Successful oral defense of the research project
  • Completion of a thesis
Students should plan to work 3-5 hours per week per credit hour.

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.

The typical length of an undergraduate thesis is 20-60 pages of double-spaced text and figures.

Students may complete all of these requirements in advance of the semester of graduation.

Information for Honors Students

Honors students who complete a thesis are eligible for the graduation honor with Honors Research Distinction.

An Honors thesis application form and instructions are available at the Arts and Sciences Honors Research Page.

If you plan to defend your thesis earlier than your graduation session, you must notify the ASC Honors Office. The thesis must be submitted to the Knowledge Bank at OSU Libraries no later than the last day of the final examination week of the semester in which the examination takes place.

Information for non-Honors Students

Non-Honors students who complete a thesis are eligible for the graduation honor with Research Distinction. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible for this option.

Non-Honors students who have never been in Honors may apply to join Honors at the point they decide to write a thesis (typically in the 3rd or 4th year). Students who maintain at least a 3.4 GPA and complete all of the requirements may then graduate with Honors Research Distinction. Here is more information on Honors membership for already-enrolled students.

Further Information

The Undergraduate Research Office has more information on the Undergraduate Research Thesis for both Honors and non-Honors students.

Previous Honors Theses are stored at the Knowledge Bank at OSU Libraries and may be accessed via their Search Interface. 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.

For questions about the Honors program, please contact the Arts and Sciences Honors Program.