Departmental Honors Program
1.) Undergraduates are eligible to enter the CBMG Departmental Honors Program at the beginning of their second year.
2.) To be considered for admission into the program, you must have an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 in the courses required for the Biological Sciences major. Transfer students with equivalent academic records at other accredited institutions are eligible. Admission will not be based on grades alone, but also upon evidence of maturity and interest, as evidence that you are likely to successfully complete the program requirements. It is not required that students be majoring in any particular Biological Science Specialization Area.
3.) For applications to be reviewed, a faculty mentor must have been identified and be willing to sponsor the project. The mentor will generally be a CBMG faculty member or a scientist working closely with a CBMG faculty member, and the project should be related to cell biology, molecular genetics or microbiology. If you are not certain whether a particular faculty member or project qualifies, please contact the Director of the CBMG Honors Program, Zhongchi Liu. If you are not certain with whom you want to work, you can access faculty research interests on our website.
4.) Interested students should submit an application to Zhongchi Liu, Director of the CBMG Honors Program, at least one week before the beginning of the semester when the student wishes to enter the program. The selection of students for the Honors Program is the responsibility of the Director, who will consider the past performance of the student, the student's interests and prospects for success in the program.
Plan of Study/Description of Program
The CBMG Departmental Honors Program is highly research oriented. The objective of the program is to provide honors students with an opportunity to gain an appreciation for the research process. This is viewed as including:
1.) Identifying a research problem. Your research problem may originate with your mentor, but student contributions are strongly encouraged.
2.) Appreciating the background information related to the research problem. Background information may be acquired through reading relevant literature as advised by your mentor, discussion with your mentor or by enrolling in individual Special Problems courses such as BSCI 379G.
3.) Developing a Hypothesis. This involves formulation of a predictive statement based on one's understanding of the issue to be investigated, in a way that permits testing of the correctness of that understanding.
4.) Learning the methods and acquiring the data. Experimental methods that are appropriate and likely to yield data necessary for testing your hypothesis are to be selected or developed. Observations or experiments are to be executed by the student using good scientific practices.
5.) Analyzing and interpreting data. Graphic and statistical analyses of the data are completed in a manner appropriate for testing the stated hypothesis. The data and results of the analysis are then interpreted and conclusions drawn. This in turn may lead to alternative hypotheses.
Requirements of the Program
1.) Students must enroll in Honors Research for at least three semesters. A minimum of six credit hours of BSCI379H is required. Summer research experiences may be substituted for one or more of the semesters. A total of three credit hours of Honors research (BSCI379H) will apply toward the Microbiology or CMBG Advanced Course Requirements as a lecture course. The remaining credits may count as Upper Level CORE credit requirements (CORE credit is received only if student completes the Honors program and defends a thesis).
You should be enrolled in BSCI379H (1-3 credits/semester) during each semester if you are carrying out some aspect of the research process described above. As a general rule, 3-4 hours of research time/week = one credit hour. Be sure to specify your mentor's individual section number when registering for this course. If your mentor is not a CBMG faculty member, then see the Program Director for the correct section number.
2.) Students must enroll in Honors Seminar (BSCI378H) each regular semester after admission to the program. This is a 1-hour seminar in which Honors students meet regularly to discuss their progress and/or make research presentations to their peers. Three semesters of Bsci378H are required.
3.) Students must pass at least seven credits of CBMG -related lecture/laboratory courses and obtain a grade of B or better. Course work must be from the approved upper level courses required for CMBG, PBIO or MICB specialization areas of the Biological Sciences Program. Research opportunity courses are not applicable to this requirement.
4.) A research proposal that has been approved and signed by the mentor must be submitted to the Director of the CBMG Honors Program. A research proposal is due by the beginning of your second semester in the program. This proposal should be developed in consultation with your mentor. A set of guidelines is available from the Director of the CBMG Honors Program upon request.
5.) An approved Honors thesis. An Honors Thesis must be submitted and approved by a CBMG Honors Program Committee composed of your mentor and at least two other CBMG faculty members. Approval of the thesis will require an oral defense as described below. The thesis should be written in standard thesis format. Guidelines for writing the thesis are available from the Program Director upon request. Four copies of your Honors thesis must be submitted to the Honors Program Director by Nov. 1 for graduation in the Fall semester or by April 1 for graduation in the Spring semester unless notified otherwise.
6.) An oral defense of the Honors thesis. A Honors Research Colloquium will be held the first Saturday of November or April unless notified otherwise. You will be expected to give a short verbal presentation on your research at this colloquium followed by questions from the examiners on the research topic and other relevant areas. The examiners will evaluate the student's performance in the defense, the student's written thesis, and the student's overall level of research performance. If the student successfully passes the defense, the examiners will then recommend that the student graduate with Honors or High Honors. In general, the "High Honors" is reserved for exceptional students who have presented research at national meetings and/or coauthored a paper for publication and demonstrated superior performance in all aspects of the program. The student's diploma will read (example): Bachelor of Science, College of Chemical & Life Sciences, "Honors in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics" or "High Honors in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics".
Students may receive Honors in more than one department but the program requirements of both departments must be met, the student must have prior approval from the CBMG Program Director, and theses completed for each Honors program must be unique, i.e., the same project may not be used to meet the requirements of two Honors programs.
Privileges for Honors Students
1.) You may be granted the right to use academic facilities ordinarily only available to graduate students or staff.
2.) You may take, with permission of the instructor and the Director of the CBMG Honors Program, graduate courses and receive undergraduate credit for them.
3.) You may take any University Honors Program course (including many 300-level courses that may fulfill advanced studies requirements) or any Honors version courses in any department (departmental approval required in some cases).
4.) You are invited and encouraged to attend weekly departmental seminars: The CBMG Seminar is held at 12:00PM Fridays; the Molecular and Cell Biology Seminar takes place at 12:00PM Wednesdays; and the Research in Progress Seminars is at 12:30PM Thursdays – all three seminars series are held in 1103 Bioscience Research Building. Please check the CBMG website since the times and location of these seminars may be subject to change.
5.) You may use your BSCI379H credits to satisfy one of the CORE Advanced Studies requirements contingent upon the successful completion of all the Honors program requirements.
6.) Honors students who are making demonstrable progress in their research are eligible to apply for any scholarships that may be available from the General Honors Program, from the College of Chemical & Life Sciences, or the Office of Undergraduate Studies, University of Maryland.
Withdrawal from the Program
An Honors student may be advised or required to withdraw from the program if his/her course achievement and progress in the Program suggest to the Director of the CBMG Honors Program and/or research mentor that withdrawal is desirable. Ordinarily a student will be advised or required to withdraw if his/her cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0. If the student withdraws before defending an Honors thesis, the credits accumulated from participation in Honors Research BSCI379H (formally MICB379), cannot be counted toward satisfying the requirements of the Biological Sciences degree. Students will not be able to use his or her Honors research credits to satisfy the CORE Advanced Studies requirement. Half of the credits earned from participation in BSCI378H (formally MICB388H) may be counted toward satisfying the requirements for the major.