Biology Honors Program

The Honors Research Program of the Department of Biological Sciences is the most challenging and potentially most rewarding research opportunity the Department offers its majors. It is a research-intensive program designed to offer a special set of opportunities and challenges to students who have demonstrated the ability to master complex biological concepts, think analytically and are likely to successfully engage in an independent research environment.  The program is designed to lead the undergraduate researcher through a true, complete research project, from the development of an original research question and the drafting of a formal research proposal, through the collection and analysis of data, to the drawing of formal conclusions that add new knowledge to our understanding of the biological world. The Honors student is required to write a formal thesis and deliver an oral presentation to department faculty and other interested parties.

A student interested in participating in the Honors program should first consider the program’s eligibility and acceptance criteria and understand the requirements of the program (see below).  To initiate the process, an interested student should seek out a department faculty member who would be interested in taking them on as an Honors research student.  With the faculty member’s guidance, they then must enroll in Biology 481, Readings in the Biological Sciences, a course designed to introduce the student to the research topic and through which the student, with guidance by the faculty member, will develop an original research question and design a viable research project.


For acceptance into the Honors Program, a student must meet the following eligibility requirements:

1) A student must be a junior-level biology major.  Students who have selected biology as a minor are NOT eligible; they should seek an Honors program in their major. Students who have a special major and whose research advisor is a member of the biology faculty ARE eligible.

2) A student must have a 3.00 overall UMW cumulative GPA and a 3.25 cumulative GPA in the Biology Major at the beginning of their final two 15-week semesters at UMW. A student must maintain these GPAs at graduation.

3) A student must have satisfactorily completed Biol 481. Biol 481 is a prerequisite for Biol 491.

4) A student must submit an Honors Program Application and an Honors Research Proposal (one paper copy and one electronic copy) to the Proposal Review Committee.


To successfully complete the requirements of the program, students accepted into the program must:

1) successfully complete the research project,

2) successfully fulfill any other requirements set forth in Biol 491

3) write an Honors Thesis,

4) deliver an oral Honors Presentation to the Department faculty, and

5) have a 3.00 overall UMW cumulative GPA and a 3.25 cumulative GPA in the Biology major at graduation.


For a complete description of the Department’s Honors Program, please see the Biology Honors_Handbook.