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Why Take Thesis?
A full year of either Senior Thesis (Math 197) or Mathematics Clinic (Math 193) is required for the mathematics major.
Senior thesis offers the student, guided by the faculty advisor, a chance to experience a taste of the life of a professional research mathematician. The work is largely independent with guidance from the research advisor. In contrast, the Mathematics Clinic Program is designed to offer students the opportunity to develop the modeling and analysis tools necessary to solve applied problems under conditions closely approximated to an industrial setting. Students work in groups under the guidance of a faculty advisor and an industrial liaison.
Junior math majors are encouraged to talk to later-year students and their faculty advisors to determine which program will best suit their needs. Students should also look through some past senior theses and Clinic projects; these are archived on the math department’s website. Be sure to also check out the list of current thesis students and links to their websites.
How Do I Sign Up?
Juniors thinking about writing a thesis should go to the mathematics research page and look at faculty research areas to choose possible advisors for a thesis project.
You’ll get a copy of the Capstone Research Experience preference/application form from the faculty in February—fill it in and submit it to the department for review.
Ideas for Thesis Projects
You’ll need to choose a topic area and advisor for a thesis project. While completing original mathematical research is highly desirable, doing so is not a requirement of a senior thesis project.
If you have an idea that’s not already listed under the mathematics research page, talk to potential advisors as well as other faculty from the Claremont Colleges who may share your interests! Previous senior theses may also be a good source of ideas or other inspiration.
External Thesis Advisors, Advisors, and Second Readers
Each thesis student has an advisor and a second reader. If you wish to do research with an advisor who is not in the HMC mathematics department,
- Your thesis must have sufficient mathematical content
- You will need a second reader who is a Mudd math professor
To get an outside advisor approved, submit a petition to the department via the department chair describing your planned research project and the level of its mathematical content. You will need to include the name and contact information of your project’s external faculty advisor, as well as the name of the Mudd professor who has agreed to serve as your second reader.
Faculty Research Interests
Information about faculty research interests can be found on the mathematics research page.
The Chavin Prize
Students who write a senior thesis (or another mathematical paper) are eligible to receive the Chavin Prize.
Information about other awards and prizes awarded by the department can be found on the Departmental Awards and Prizes page.