If you have questions about the program, please contact: Dr. Louisa Wu, CBMG Honors Program Director

Email: louisa@umd.edu



1) Undergraduates are eligible to enter the CBMG Departmental Honors Program beginning your second year.

  • The recommended time to join is as a rising junior.

2) To be considered for admission into the program, you must have an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40 in the courses required for the Biological Sciences major.

  • Transfer students with equivalent academic records at other accredited institutions are eligible.
  • It is not required that students are majoring in any particular Biological Science Specialization Area.

3) A faculty mentor must have been identified and be willing to sponsor the project before an application will be reviewed.

  • The mentor will generally be a CBMG faculty member or a principal investigator outside the department, with the director’s approval.
  • The project should be of a nature 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.
  • Students typically contact and identify research mentors on their own. Most have already started working in their lab before applying.
  • If you are trying to identify a faculty mentor, descriptions of the research interests of all CBMG faculty can be seen at: https://cbmg.umd.edu/faculty-1/

4) Interested students should submit an application by email to the Director of the CBMG Honors Program at least one week before the beginning of the semester the student wishes to enter the program.

  • The selection of students for the Honors Program is the responsibility of the Director of the CBMG Honors Program, who will consider the past performance of the student, the student's interests and prospects for success in the program.




Departmental honors programs are distinct from university honors programs. The CBMG Departmental Honors Program is highly research oriented. The objective of the program is to provide departmental honor students with an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the research process. This involves:


1) Identifying a research problem.

  • Your research problem typically  originates with discussion with your mentor, but student contribution to the intellectual process is strongly encouraged.

2) Studying  the background information related to the research problem.

  • Background information is acquired through reading relevant literature as advised by your mentor.

3) Developing a Hypothesis.

  • A predictive statement summarizing one's understanding of the system under study in a way that permits experimentation to prove or disprove it.

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 and experiments are to be executed by the student using good scientific practices.

5) Analyzing data and communicating the science.

  • 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.
  • The results will be presented in both oral and written forms, for feedback from peers and the course instructors/directors.



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) can apply toward the BSCI major Advanced Course Requirements in the enrichment category or as research credits in the General Biology specialization.Completion of the Honors Program and 6 credits of BSCI379H also satisfies the second lab requirement in the BSCI major.
  • You should be enrolled in BSCI379H (1-3 credits/semester) during each semester 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 consult with the Program Director for the correct section number.

2) Students must enroll in Honors Seminar (BSCI378H) during their time in the program.

  • This is a 50 minute seminar on Fridays at 2 pm in which Honors students meet regularly to discuss their progress and/or make research presentations to their peers.
  • Three semesters of BSCI378H are required.
  • There is some flexibility here for students that study abroad or have schedule conflicts, e.g., it does not need to be 3 consecutive semesters.
  • 1 Credit of BSCI378H counts towards the Advanced Course Requirements similar to lecture courses.

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 (300- or 400-level) courses required for any specialization areas of the Biological Sciences Program. Research 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 at the beginning of your second semester in the program. This proposal should be developed in consultation with your mentor.
  • A set of guidelines will be provided by the Director of the CBMG Honors Program.

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 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 will be provided by the Program Director.
  • A copy of your Honors thesis must be submitted to the Honors Program Director by October 31 for graduation in the Fall semester or by March 30 for graduation in the Spring semester unless notified otherwise. 

6) An oral defense of the Honors thesis.

  • A Honors Research Colloquium will be held typically on the last Friday of October or March unless notified otherwise.
  • You will give a verbal presentation on your research at this colloquium followed with questions from the examiners on the research topic and other relevant areas.
  • The examiners will evaluate your defense, written thesis, and 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, "High Honors" is reserved for exceptional students who have contributed both intellectually and technically to their research project. Typically, these students have presented research at national meetings and are co-authors on a publication.
  • The student's diploma will read: 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.



  • You may be granted the right to use academic facilities ordinarily only available to graduate students or staff.
  • You may take, with permission of the course instructor, graduate courses and receive undergraduate credit for them.
  • You are invited and encouraged to attend weekly departmental seminars: The CBMG Seminar is held at 12:00 PM Fridays in 1103 BRB; the Molecular and Cell Biology Seminar takes place at 12:00 PM Wednesdays in 1103 BRB. The times and location of these seminars may be subject to change.



  • An Honors student may be advised or required to withdraw from the program if his/her course achievement and progress in the Program is not adequate.
  • This could occur if the student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.40. Also, students who are not investing sufficient time in their research efforts may also be advised to withdraw.
  • Typically a warning is issued for the first semester that the issue becomes apparent; this gives the students a chance in the following semester to remedy the issue. If no progress or remedy is detected, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.
  • If the student withdraws before defending an Honors thesis, the credits accumulated from participation in Honors Research BSCI379H, cannot be counted toward satisfying the requirements of the Biological Sciences degree. Half of the credits earned from participation in BSCI378H may be counted toward satisfying the requirements for the major.