Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    Aug 09, 2022  
Courses of Study 2020-2021 [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 can receive academic credit via BIOG 2990  or BIOG 4990  for conducting research that is biological in nature under the supervision and mentorship of Cornell faculty members based at the Ithaca campus. 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 conducting research for at least one semester or summer, students may enroll in BIOG 4990 - Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology . To enroll in BIOG 2990  or BIOG 4990  students must submit an online enrollment form that will be sent to their faculty mentor for approval. Prior to submitting the enrollment form, students should meet with their mentor to discuss expectations for the semester. Students enrolling in BIOG 4990  must also submit descriptions of their research projects, including the objectives, methods, and significance of the research.

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 accepted into the honors program are required to attend honors meetings during their senior year, submit a honors thesis that is approved by the honors committee, 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 Committee formally accepts the thesis and awards the level of honors. Arts & Sciences students’ honors levels are determined by students’ cumulative GPA after their penultimate semester and CALS students’ honors levels are determined as indicated on the CALS honors web site.

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.