An honors thesis is independent research conducted by the student under the guidance of a thesis adviser. Every year an average of 63 Lafayette students decide to pursue an honors project that culminates with the student writing and defending a thesis.

In the Department of Computer Science, the number of thesis projects ranges from one to three students per year. To pursue a thesis, a student must maintain a certain grade point average and have a project approved by the department faculty. Once approved, the student can select a committee, develop a thesis, and eventually defend that thesis. The thesis committee is composed of three faculty members, consisting of the thesis adviser, a departmental reader, and an external reader.

Once successfully completed, the thesis project will earn the student two course credits (CS 495/496) and a writing credit, and he or she will be awarded departmental honors at Commencement.

Examples of student work are provided below, including a list of all theses produced by the department starting in 1993. All theses are available through Skillman Library.

Thesis Requirements

Students choosing to pursue honors in the Department of Computer Science must:

  1. Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 and a 3.20 in the department.
  2. Produce a thesis proposal and have department approval before classes begin in the academic year that the thesis is being conducted.

Thesis Proposal

Once students decide to pursue a thesis project, they must submit a thesis proposal to their potential adviser. Once the adviser is satisfied, they will circulate the proposal around the department, which will vote on the proposal at the next department meeting. Ideally, the proposal will be submitted during the junior spring semester, but no later than mid-summer before the senior year.

The thesis will contain the following information.

  • A proposed title and student’s name;
  • An abstract providing the thesis topic, reasons why this topic is relevant, and how the topic will be pursued;
  • A brief literature search, including a bibliography;
  • An extended discussion of how the thesis will be executed;
  • Any other information that will be useful when the department determines whether to approve the proposal.

Thesis Process

Once approved, the thesis project has several major steps that the student must navigate to successfully earn honors from the Department of Computer Science. The student must:

  1. Meet regularly with the thesis adviser;
  2. Select a thesis committee by mid-year;
  3. Present his or her work at mid-year to the thesis committee and department;
  4. Develop a thesis document that includes a literature search, introduction to the thesis topic, discussion of how the topic was pursued, data section, data discussion, conclusion, and bibliography;
  5. Distribute the thesis to the committee one week before the thesis defense;
  6. Defend the thesis before finals week of the spring semester.