Departmental Honors

The Biology Department offers a Departmental Honors (DH) option, which serves as an Advanced Scholarship Track of the Commonwealth Honors College. Participation in Departmental Honors requires admission to the program.

Applying for Departmental Honors

Biology majors who are currently members of the Commonwealth Honors College can apply for admission to Departmental Honors by contacting the appropriate departmental honors coordinator:

Lynn Adler (students with last name beginning A-M)
Sarah Pallas (last name N-Z)

Our Frequently Asked Questions document contains answers to common questions about finding research opportunities, the logistics of the honors thesis, and courses that can count to fulfill the honors requirements.

Biology majors who are not yet members of the Commonwealth Honors College can apply for admissions to Departmental Honors via the CHC's online application.

Prior to applying for Departmental Honors, students are strongly encouraged to identify a mechanism by which they can complete the thesis/project portion of the Departmental Honors requirements (see "Departmental Honors Requirements" below).

Departmental Honors Requirements

To complete the Biology DH program, a student must complete

  • Two Honors classes in Biology with a grade of B or better. One course can be at any level; one course must be at the 300 level or higher.
  • Either
    • An Individually Contracted Honors Thesis. To complete this option, students work in a faculty laboratory (in the Biology Department or another life science department) to perform thesis research. Students are responsible for identifying a suitable laboratory for their thesis research. After arranging a lab position and settling on a project, Departmental Honors students register for research and thesis credits (Biology 499Y and Biology 499T, typically taken the fall and spring semesters of the senior year, respectively). The CHC provides forms and instructions for registering. A grade of B or better in both semesters is required.


    • A faculty-initiated Honors Project Seminar. Please contact your departmental honors coordinator to find out if any currently offered seminars are accepted for Biology Department Honors.\\

Note: Students who plan to pursue an Individually Contracted Honors Thesis can take advantage of the Biology Undergraduate Apprentice (BUA) program to find a research project, and/or can mount a broader search.

Biology Honors Courses

  • Biology 105H Biology of Social Issues;
  • Biology 161H Quantitative Biology of the Cell
  • Biology 162H Quantitative Systems Biology
  • Biology 379H Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • Biology 383H Gene and Genome Analysis
  • Biology 397MH Cell and Molecular Biology Lab
  • Biology 422H Experimental Methods in Ecology
  • Biology 477H Bio-Imaging
  • Biology 486H Molecular Biology of Model Systems
  • Biology 487H Tropical Field Biology
  • Biology 501 The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease
  • Biology 523 Histology
  • Biology 544 Ornithology
  • Biology 550 Animal Behavior
  • Biology 559 Cell Biology II
  • Biology 572 Neurobiology
  • Biology 582 DNA to Diversity
  • Biology 583 Advanced Genetics
  • Biology 597GE Evolutionary Genomics

The CHC has compiled a complete list of honors courses.

Note: The Registrar's Office maintains a page that describes requirements for graduating with Latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude).

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