Earning Honors

Brown awards two kinds of honors. The university awards Magna cum laude based on grades. The Computer Science Department awards Honors in Computer Science.

The CS Department's requirements for graduating with honors are as follows:

  1. Honors candidates must have earned A's or S-with-distinction in 2/3 of the courses used towards the concentration, excluding introductory-sequence courses (CS courses numbered below 0200) and the calculus prerequisite (unless that course is also used as an intermediate math course in CS requirements). Note that the grade requirement includes courses taken in the final year.  Thus, for example, if a student's grades drop below this bar in the last year, that student will not graduate with honors.
  2. Candidates must have completed 2/3 of their concentration courses by the start of their last two semesters. 
  3. Candidates must choose an advisor and submit a 1-to-3 page proposal, approved by the advisor (who must be a CS faculty member), to the director of undergraduate studies before the last day to register for classes (not the end of shopping period, but two weeks after that) in their next-to-last semesters.
  4. A ~3-page progress report must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by the end of the first month of the final semester. Also at this time, the student must identify a reader, who should be either a CS faculty member or a faculty member in some other Brown department who has expertise that's relevant to the thesis topic.
  5. A final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the student's committee and the director of undergraduate studies by April 4 for students completing their degrees in May and by December 1 for those completing their degrees in December.
  6. Students must submit to a public defense of their theses to be attended by their committees and at least two other CS faculty members. Whether a student's thesis is deemed worthy of honors is decided by a combination of the advisor, reader, and faculty present at this defense.
  7. Honors candidates should register for CSCI 1970 for both semesters they are working on the thesis.
  8. Any deviation from these rules must be approved by the head of the CS honors program (one of the Directors of Undergraduate studies, in consultation with the student's advisor).

Currently, Professor Kathi Fisler serves as head of the CS honors program. Direct any questions or requests for approval to her.

Students in joint concentrations must select one of the two participating departments through which to complete the honors requirements. The honors project must be done following the rules of the selected department, with the primary advisor from that department and the reader from the other joint-concentration department. In these cases, the reader must be identified at the time the student submits the initial proposal (as per item 3 above). 

In the (rare) case that a student wishes to pursue CS honors working with a research advisor who is not in CS, the student must identify a nominal advisor in CS (who will be the advisor of record from the registrar's perspective). The nominal advisor would effectively serve as reader. All such cases must be approved by the head of the honors program for CS.

Use this form to inform the department that you are pursuing honors this year. You should only be filling this out if you are in your 7th semester of study,