Courses of Study 2017-2018 
    Jun 12, 2024  
Courses of Study 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Academic Options

In Biological Sciences .

Independent Research and Honors Program

Biology majors are encouraged to consider conducting research under the direction of a Cornell faculty member. Students interested in beginning research should contact faculty members who have compatible research interests. Stop by the Office of Undergraduate Biology, 216 Stimson Hall or go to to learn more about faculty research projects and undergraduate research opportunities.

Faculty members may consider the student’s previous academic accomplishments, interests and career goals, and the availability of space and equipment when agreeing to supervise a student in their laboratory. Students conducting research for the first time enroll in BIOG 2990 , an S–U course designed to introduce students to research. After the first semester, students may enroll in BIOG 4990 . Registration for both of these classes is done online through the Office of Undergraduate Biology ( Students may work with faculty in any department on campus as long as the research topic is biological in nature. Students may not earn credit for research done off campus, unless supervised by a Cornell faculty member.

The Honors Program in Biological Sciences is designed to offer advanced training in life science research through the completion of an original research project under the direct guidance of a member of the Cornell faculty who acts as their Honors supervisor. Biology majors planning on graduating with honors apply to the Biology Honors Program in the spring of their junior year. Applications and information are available at To qualify for the program, Arts & Sciences students must be in the Biological Sciences major. CALS students from other majors may apply as long as there is significant biological content in the research. Students must have completed at least 30 credits at Cornell or have junior standing as a transfer and have a cumulative Cornell grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0. In addition, students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative Cornell GPA in all biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics courses. Students may be accepted provisionally as an Honors candidate if their GPA is below a 3.0. However, a 3.0 GPA must be attained by the end of the seventh semester. Grades earned in courses in other departments that are used to fulfill biology major requirements are included in this computation. An Honors candidate usually enrolls for credit in BIOG 4990 - Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology  under the direction of the faculty member acting as Honors supervisor, although the Honors program does not require enrollment for credit. Students accepted into the Honors Program are required to attend Honors meetings during their senior year; submit an acceptable honors thesis; complete all major requirements; maintain a 3.0 Cornell cumulative and science GPA through graduation; and give a public presentation of their research. The Biology Honors Faculty Committee formally accepts the thesis and awards the level of honors. The student’s GPA and the quality of his or her thesis are factors in determining the level of honors.

Students interested in the Honors Program are strongly encouraged to begin their research projects in their junior year and often spend the following summer at Cornell engaged in full-time research on their thesis project.

It is possible to study abroad and successfully complete the honors program. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic and research advisor during their sophomore year to carefully plan their academic and lab schedule to meet the requirements of the Honors Program.

Application forms, deadlines and details about the program can be found on the Honors page of the Biology website (