Graduation with Distinction

Math majors with strong academic records and the desire to pursue original research in mathematics and its applications are encouraged to apply for Graduation with Distinction.  Below are the requirements for Graduation with Distinction in Mathematics; see the Trinity website on Graduating with Distinction for more information.


  • May graduates – application for Graduation with Distinction should submitted at or before the registration period in the fall semester of your senior year.
  • December graduates – application is due by the registration period of the previous spring semester.

Early application is encouraged.


  1. An overall GPA of at least 3.3 and a mathematics GPA of at least 3.5.
  2. A paper demonstrating significant independent work in mathematics. This paper is normally written under the supervision of a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics. Students ordinarily pursue their work in Research Independent Study in Mathematics (MATH 393, 394, 493 and/or 494). See Independent Study for details on applying.
  3. For May graduates, a draft of the paper is due by April 1 of the senior year; for December graduates a draft of the paper is due by November 15.
  4. An oral presentation, open to the public, and the final version of the paper are due before the last day of classes of the student's senior year. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will name a committee, normally containing the student's supervisor, to evaluate the paper and oral presentation. In consultation with the DUS, the committee will determine whether Distinction should be awarded and, if so, the level of distinction.

Levels of Distinction

  • Graduation with Distinction. The paper should demonstrate significant independent research and be a substantial intellectual accomplishment.
  • Graduation with High Distinction. The paper must include noteworthy original results derived by the student. In particular, the results should involve significant new ideas discovered by the student beyond standard or established approaches in the field.
  • Graduation with Highest Distinction. This is reserved for truly outstanding research. In particular, such theses should be deemed publishable in reputable journals.

For examples, see the listing of Senior Theses in Mathematics or go to the Duke Libraries archives of published papers in Mathematics.