Courses of Study 2019-2020 
    Apr 20, 2024  
Courses of Study 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Academic Options

In Biological Sciences .

Independent Research and Honors Program

Biological Sciences majors are encouraged to conduct research with Cornell faculty members. Students interested in beginning research should contact faculty members who have compatible research interests. Visit the Office of Undergraduate Biology, 216 Stimson Hall, or go to to learn more about best practices for contacting faculty, faculty research projects, and other undergraduate research opportunities.

Faculty members may consider the student’s 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 - Introduction to Research Methods in Biology , an S–U course designed to introduce students to research. After the first semester, students may enroll in BIOG 4990 - Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology . Registration for both of these classes is done online through the Office of Undergraduate Biology. Students enrolling in BIOG 4990  must submit an original description of the research they will be conducting during the semester for approval by both their faculty mentor and 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 based at the Ithaca campus.

The Biological Sciences Honors Program is designed to offer advanced training in 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. Biological Sciences majors planning on graduating with honors apply to the honors program in the summer after their junior year. Applications and information are available on the honors page of the Office of Undergraduate Biology website. 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. 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. Honors candidates often enroll for credit in BIOG 4990  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 GPA through graduation; and give a public presentation of their research. The Biological Sciences Honors Faculty Committee formally accepts the thesis and awards the level of honors. The student’s GPA determines 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 Office of Undergraduate Biology website.