You are here:

Honors Program


The Physics and Astronomy Honors Program is designed to give a richer educational experience to students in the University of Utah's Honors College pursuing their Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Utah. The program helps students who are focused on graduate school engage in serious research and take classes in an accelerated curriculum. The centerpiece of an honors degree in physics is a project culminating in the submission of a written thesis and the presentation of the student's work in a public forum. The honors degree is is conferred by the Honors College. The requirements for fulfilling an honors degree are detailed below, and include keeping a GPA above 3.5, taking honors level courses, and completing a thesis project.

Requirements for the Honors B.S. in Physics:

Students seeking an honors degree must first be enrolled in the University’s honors program.

The University Honors Program requirements are given here. The Honors College core requirements for an Honors degree include:

  • Take two Intellectual Traditions courses (HON 2101-2108, 3900). These courses also fulfill the University's HF requirement, but you may not AP test out of this requirement.
  • Take an Honors Writing Course (HON 2211, 3200, 3800).
  • Follow the Honors thesis timeline, including filling out an Honors Thesis Form, by Sept. 15th for May graduation. More information and form available at:

Students wishing to complete an Honors B.S. in Physics have several additional departmental requirements. A checklist of these requirements is contained in the honors degree form, which must be filled out and signed by the honors advisor at the beginning of the final semester before graduation. The departmental requirements are:

  • Meet all University and Departmental requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.
  • An "Application for Undergraduate Degree" form must be filled out with signatures from the Honors College advisor and Departmental Honors advisor by June 1st for December graduation or November 1st for May graduation. This form can be found here.
  • GPA requirement: Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 overall, a minimum grade of B in all Physics courses, and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in all Physics courses.
  • Complete 3 units of Physics 4999 "Senior Honors Project." (Required Honors courses may be applied to major and graduation requirements.)
  • Complete at least 20 hours of Honors courses. These courses may be applied to major and graduation requirements. At least 12 hours must be taken from the following list of courses:
    - PHYS 3210: Physics for Scientists I (4)
    - PHYS 3220: Physics for Scientists II (4)
    - PHYS 3729: Honors Undergraduate Physics Laboratory (4)
    - PHYS 4410: Classical Physics I (4)
    - PHYS 4420: Classical Physics II (4)
    - PHYS 4800: Undergraduate Research (1 to 6) [requires instructor’s signature]
    - PHYS 4910: Technical Communication and Scientific Judgment (4)
    - PHYS/ASTR 5015: Observational Methods and Analysis (3)
    - PHYS 5450: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (4)
    - PHYS 5460: Quantum Mechanics amp;Statistical Mechanics (4)
    - PHYS 5510: Solid State Physics I (3)
    - PHYS 5520: Solid State Physics II (3)
    - PHYS 5530: Introduction to Disordered Solids (3)
    - PHYS/ASTR 5560: Stars Stellar Populations (3)
    - PHYS/ASTR 5570: Galaxies (3)
    - PHYS/ASTR 5580: Cosmology (3)
    - PHYS/ASTR 5590: Stellar Astrophysics and Compact Objects (3)
    - PHYS/ASTR 6XXX: Any 6000-level Physics or Astronomy course
    - PHYS/ASTR 7XXX: Any 7000-level Physics or Astronomy course
  • Up to 8 hours of courses can be taken from the following list (these are honors sections of lower level CHEM/BIO/MATH courses that are required for some Physics tracks):
    - CHEM 1211/1221 Honors General Chemistry I II
    - CHEM 1241 Honors General Chemistry Lab II
    - CHEM 2311/2321 Honors Organic Chemistry I III
    - BIO 2021 -- Principles of Cell Science
    - MATH 1250/1260 -- Honors Calculus
    - MATH 1311/1321 -- Accelerated Engineering Calculus I II
  • Complete a senior honors thesis. This thesis should be original research done under the direction of a Physics faculty member. Students interested in honors should start looking for a faculty member no later than the summer preceding their senior year. They are encouraged to apply for UROP funds for summer funding. Typically students work within a faculty member's lab or group for a year or more before completing their thesis. The thesis should document the results of their project and must be approved by the Physics Honors Committee and bear the signature of the Physics Honors Advisor.
  • Present the results of their project in an appropriate public forum approved by the Physics Honors Committee (e.g. seminar, University Undergraduate Research Symposium, meetings of the American Physical Society, etc.)
  • Complete the honors degree form honors degree form by Jan. 15th for spring graduation or Sept. 15th for fall graduation.

For any additional questions or information about the Department Honors Program, please contact the Physics and Astronomy Honors Advisor:

Prof. Anil Seth, Ph.D 
330 INSCC,
telephone (801) 585-7793,

The honors college advisor for Physics students is Karleton Munn (

Last Updated: 4/28/20