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:
Akiko Okuso (last name A-M)
Sarah Pallas (last name N-Z)

Inquiries about Departmental Honors:

Answers to common questions about departmental honors may be found in our Frequently Asked Questions document.

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.
  • Departmental Honors students must also complete the Breadth of Study component of the honors curriculum.

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

Biology Honors Courses

  • Biology 105H Biology of Social Issues;
  • Biology 109H Evolution Explained
  • 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
  • Biiology 422H Experimental Methods in Ecology
  • Biology 477H Bioimaging
  • Biology 486H Molecular Biology of Model Systems
  • Biology 487H Tropical Field Biology

    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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