Writing An Undergraduate Thesis

This course is typically taken only by first-year students or sophomores.

Students pursuing honors research in chemical engineering should take CH E 494H (honors thesis research).

In the summer, students can focus on getting going with research without the competition of coursework and extracurricular activities.

By the end of a summer, a student can be well acquainted with the project and methods, and possibly have useful preliminary results, so that work can continue during subsequent semesters.

For undergraduate research, formulating an appropriate research project is predominately the responsibility of the thesis adviser.

For a research project to be most successful, it should be: Students exploring research with an adviser but not yet fully engaged in a research project may register for 1-2 hours of CH E 294H (which can count as professional elective).

Penn State theses must conform to a prescribed format; details are provided online at Thesis Formatting Guide.

For students working in La Te X, style files are available online at the this address.

In short, the thesis needs to be long enough to describe the background, methods, and results at the level of detail of a published paper.Penn State honors theses are archived and can be searched electronically and downloaded.Doing the research for a good honors thesis takes a long time.This document is intended to supplement the more general policies and information available from the Schreyer Honors College.The Schreyer Honors College (SHC) website describes the honors thesis and offers advice about how to choose a topic, find an adviser, and plan a timeline from project idea to finished thesis.Theses should be written in a scholarly manner, with end notes to cite published work to which the thesis refers.Writing should be consistent with the style of journal articles.This implies a standard of originality: in engineering and science departments, a thesis cannot simply be a literature review—the thesis must include original work.For students applying to graduate school, publishable research is a mark of distinction above and beyond completing an honors thesis.SHC students can take six hours of CH E 494H for credit in the major (three hours can count as CH E elective, three as professional elective). The chemical engineering major is very demanding; during the semester, a student’s commitment to research is often in conflict with the urgency of homework, projects, and exams.Registering for CH E 494H is a commitment to spend time on research equivalent to a technical course of comparable credit hours.

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