How to Apply

Timing of the Honors program

Don’t underestimate the time required to complete the Honors program! Although there is only a two-semester BIOL-X490 requirement for an Honors degree, you are advised to begin working toward the Honors degree as early as possible. The time to write your Honors thesis can take longer than anticipated. Starting early allows you to reap the full benefits of the Honors program and to be sure you obtain the Honors designation.

The responsibility for following the timetable outlined below lies squarely with the student.


No later than nine months prior to the time the Honors degree is to be awarded, identify a probable thesis director and establish at least a general topic for the work to be done. Students are encouraged to visit with faculty in areas they find most interesting and can seek advice from Biology academic advisors, the Biology Honors Chair, or the Biology Department Chair and Associate Chair to identify appropriate faculty members. (If you’re doing research in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, your research projects must be approved in writing by the Biology department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies during the first semester of research.)

Your research should be past the initial reading and discussion stage and into the actual experimental stage early in the semester prior to graduation.

Prior to the last semester, the full Honors committee should be selected and be acquainted with the work being done. This provides the committee with opportunities to make suggestions about the investigations needed to complete the work. A meeting with the Honors committee must be held no later than the semester prior to defense of the thesis. A 3- to 5-page summary of the thesis project should be presented to the committee prior to the meeting and signed by the committee after the meeting. This summary will then be submitted to the Biology Undergraduate Advising Office by the committee chair.

Ask your thesis director to read the first draft of your thesis and make revisions on the basis of his or her suggestions before circulating a final version to the Honors committee. Submit your thesis to the Honors committee no later than April 15 (for May graduates) or December 1 (for December graduates).

At least two weeks prior to the end of your last semester, you must defend your thesis before the committee. A general departmental announcement should be made about the defense, and other members of the faculty may attend after notifying the thesis director so that space can be made available. A desirable format is for the student to present an open departmental seminar about his or her work, followed immediately by a defense of the work before the thesis committee.

The candidate must advertise the defense. Complete and submit the Defense Seminar Announcement form at least two weeks prior to your defense seminar date.

A biology advisor must certify the successful defense of the Honor’s thesis to the Recorder’s Office a week prior to the end of the semester. You must therefore submit one bound copy of the thesis, signed by all committee members, to him in the Biology Undergraduate Advising Office (Biology Building A115).

Formal application for an Honors degree

Once a faculty advisor has agreed to sponsor you for the honors program, you should register with the Department of Biology Honors Committee by contacting an undergraduate advisor.