General Admission Criteria

Minimally, to be eligible to apply for DH, students must have

  • An overall GPA of 3.400 or higher earned after one or more fulltime semester(s) of UMass Amherst coursework
  • The ability to complete the DH sub-plan requirements
  • The ability to complete the CHC minimum residency requirement, i.e., 45-graded (not pass/fail) credits earned at UMass Amherst (not transferred)

Admissions Process

UMass Amherst students who are not already members of the Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) must apply to Departmental Honors (DH), an Advanced Scholarship CHC sub-plan, via the CHC online application.

Students who are already members of CHC meet with the department’s Honors Program Director (HPD) regarding their interest in joining Departmental Honors (DH). The HPD will determine a student's eligibility and preparedness for DH. Admission to DH will be at the discretion of the HPD based on the criteria as established by the department and CHC (see Admission Criteria above).

The HPD will notify the CHC office of newly accepted DH students so appropriate steps can be taken to designate the sub-plan on SPIRE.

Requirements for BMB Departmental Honors (DH)

  1. BMB Honors students should apply for acceptance into BMB Departmental Honors (DH) AFTER they have begun to do independent research in labs approved by the BMB HPD.
  2. BMB Honors students are permitted to do independent thesis research in labs outside of the BMB Department, including research labs in the Five Colleges that are members of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, as approved by the BMB HPD.
  3. One (1) Biochem “H” course at any level
  4. One (1) Biochem “H” course above the 300 level
  5. One (1) “H” Writing Course
  6. Honors Thesis: Departmental Honors (DH)

Independent Study and Honors Colloquia

Undertaking an Independent Study Honors (ISH) has specific requirements that distinguish it from a regular Independent Study. Please consult with an advisor and learn more about ISH courses on the CHC website. All details for independent study and honors colloquia must be worked out the semester before.

  • April for the Fall semester
  • November for the Spring semester

Student deadlines for submission on PATHS are:

  • August 15 for Fall
  • December 9 for Spring

These deadlines must written in the timeline for your 499Y proposal.

All students completing an ISH must submit a final paper at the end of the semester detailing their research findings. A draft of this paper is due to your PI one month before the first day of final exams, and the final draft is due on the first day of finals. A guide on how to prepare this final paper can be found here.

Honors Thesis Guidelines

A guide to preparing and defending your BMB Honors Thesis can be found here.

The BMB Department requires that majors wishing to complete Departmental Honors MUST be engaged in original research that involves data acquisition and/or analysis. The project must be BMB-related, specifically: must involve elucidation of molecular or cellular mechanisms of life processes. Theses comprising solely literature review are not suitable for BMB Departmental honors. Students wishing to complete a thesis based on scientific literature review can complete an honors program through the "Multi-disciplinary" option. Students can contact a BMB Academic Advisor to ensure that they are assigned to the appropriate honors track.

BMB Honors students conducting DH research must have an Honors Thesis Committee with two members. The Chair of the Thesis Committee is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the student’s research lab. BMB Honors students who are conducting DH research outside of the BMB Department must also have a BMB faculty person as the second member of their Honors Thesis Committee.

BMB Honors Thesis Timeline

This document outlines the following timeline information for BMB Honors students

  • Finding a lab
  • Fall of Junior year
  • Spring of Junior year
  • Summer of Junior year
  • Fall of Senior year
  • Spring of Senior year

Academic Standards

Your BMB Honors Thesis is a scientific document produced as a result of your academic skills, and the guidance of your faculty. Remember that your work also reflects directly on the reputation of the BMB Department, faculty, and other students who are BMB Majors. Even the early drafts of your BMB Honors Thesis document should reflect your high personal and professional standards.

Forms and thesis documents containing typographical errors, spelling mistakes, poor grammar or unclear writing will be returned to the student and the student’s Honors Committee Chair (PI) for revision.

Exceptions to Honors Requirements

Exceptions to the BMB Honors requirements require approval by both the BMB Honors Program Director (HPD) and a Commonwealth Honors College advisor; requests must be submitted in writing via the CHC Petition for Exception form.

Headshot of Dan Hebert
BMB's Honors Program Directors
Daniel N. Hebert


Office: N327 LSL
Phone: (413) 545-0079

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Headshot of Dong Wang
BMB's Honors Program Directors
Dong Wang

Associate Professor

Office: N429 LSL
Phone: (413) 545-4806

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