Pursue honors in mathematics

Students majoring in mathematics have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. 

Students must maintain a cumulative University of Iowa grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.33, as required by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Additionally, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.40 in mathematics.

Membership in the UI Honors Program is not required to earn Honors in Math. However, Honors in Math can be applied toward UI Honors Program requirements. It is recommended that students who attempt Honors in Math pursue a BS degree.

How to complete honors in mathematics

Students who declared math as a major for the first time at Iowa in fall 2023 or later must use the current honors requirements. Students who declared a major before fall of 2023 may elect to use the previous honors requirements.

Honors requirements (since fall 2023)

Complete five upper-level math courses as defined below with at least a B average for the five courses.

Upper-level math courses are MATH:3900 and MATH courses numbered 4000 or higher except MATH:4010, 4020, and 4120. Mathematics courses (prefix MATH) numbered 6000 or above must be approved by the Mathematics Honors Advisor in advance.

Complete three upper-level math courses and write an honors thesis. A student who chooses this option must contact the Department of Mathematics Honors Advisor and find a faculty member who is willing to supervise their honors thesis project. 

The Department of Mathematics Honors Advisor will then appoint a thesis committee of at least two faculty members. The student needs to get a pre-approval at the beginning of their thesis project and a midterm approval from the thesis committee and pass a defense.

Department of Mathematics encourages students to use their sole-authored or co-authored research papers as honors theses if the papers have been published, accepted, or submitted to a research journal. Satisfactory peer reviews or referee’s reports may be accepted in lieu of pre-approval and midterm approval.

When writing their honors theses, students are required to follow formatting instructions. In case of a student submitting a reprint of their published paper as an honors thesis, front matter as listed on the above website before Manuscript Chapters must be added to the published paper. On the title page, please change “Graduate College of” to “Department of Mathematics of”.

An honors research project may only produce a research report but not a formal thesis. A research report will be counted as one upper-level math course towards Option 1 by enrolling in MATH:3996 Individual Study and Honors in Mathematics for 3 semester hours. A research report must be approved by the honors research project supervisor.

Learn more about the submission of a thesis or project to UI Iowa Research Online, a service provided by UI Libraries. All students are encouraged to participate in sharing their work through the UI IRO Repository, but students are not required to submit a thesis to this site. Likewise, students are not required to submit the thesis to a central CLAS location nor to University Honors.

Former honors requirements (for majors declared in summer 2023 or earlier)

Complete four of the following courses, including a two-course sequence and at least one 5000 level course with a B average for the four courses.

Mathematics courses (prefix MATH) numbered 6000 or above are to be approved by the mathematics honors advisor in advance

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
MATH:3900Introduction to Mathematics Research3
MATH:4090A Rigorous Introduction to Abstract Algebra4
MATH:4210Foundations of Analysis4
MATH:4610Continuous Mathematical Models3
MATH:4750Introduction to Mathematical Biology3
MATH:4820Optimization Techniques3
MATH:5000 & MATH:5010Abstract Algebra I-II8
MATH:5200 & MATH:5210Introduction to Analysis I-II8
MATH:5400 & MATH:5410General Topology - Introduction to Smooth Manifolds8
MATH:5600 & MATH:5700Nonlinear Dynamics with Numerical Methods - Partial Differential Equations with Numerical Methods8
MATH:5750 & MATH:5760Mathematical Biology I-II8
MATH:5800 & MATH:5810Numerical Analysis: Nonlinear Equations and Approximation Theory - Numerical Analysis: Differential Equations and Linear Algebra8
What is a two-course sequence?

A two-course sequence is a choice of two courses from one of following groups:

  • MATH 4090-5000-5010
  • MATH 4210-5200-5210
  • MATH 4210-5400-5410
  • MATH 4610-5600-5700
  • MATH 4750-5600-5700
  • MATH 4750-5750-5760
  • MATH 4820-5800-5810

Complete an honors project comparable to taking several of the courses above approved by the mathematics honors advisor and the thesis supervisor. 

Students who choose this option typically register for MATH:3996 Individual Study and Honors in Mathematics for 3 semester hours or more. They must find a faculty member willing to supervise their project.

Contact the department for help finding a project supervisor. Contact the Department of Mathematics honors advisor for more information.


Portrait of Yangbo Ye

Yangbo Ye

Director of Undergraduate Study (Associate Chair)

University of Iowa Honors Program

In addition to honors in the major, students may pursue honors study and activities through membership in the University of Iowa Honors Program. University honors students must maintain a 3.33 grade-point average, complete 12 semester hours of coursework designated as honors courses, and complete 12 semester hours of an experiential learning project. Visit Honors at Iowa to learn about the university's honors program.

NOTE: Membership in the UI Honors Program is not required to earn honors in the major.