Admission

Undergraduates are eligible to enter the Biology Department Honors Program upon attaining sophomore standing, and typically enter before the start of their junior year. Acceptance into the program is possible but is not encouraged after the first semester of the junior year. Students entering the program later than the beginning of the junior year may be asked to fulfill additional requirements to compensate for late entry. 

Students who have an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 may be considered for program admission. Transfer students with equivalent academic records at other accredited institutions are also eligible. Admission will not be based on grades alone, but on some evidence of maturity and interest that suggests students are likely to successfully complete the requirements of the program. Students do not have to be Biology majors to participate.

Students must have identified a faculty mentor and arranged for sponsorship before an application can be reviewed. 
  • Who can mentor students in the Biology Honors Program? Mentors for the Biology Honors Program must be faculty members in the Department of Biology or close affiliates of the department, such as adjunct faculty members of the department. If a student is not certain whether or not a particular faculty member qualifies as a Biology Honors Program mentor, the student should contact the Biology Honors Program Director, Alexa Bely. If the research mentor is not a formal affiliate of the Biology Department, participation in the program may still be possible by involving a co-mentor from the Biology Department. Potential students can discuss this possibility with the Biology Honors Program Director. It is not uncommon for students in the program to work closely with graduate students, technicians, or other non-faculty personnel on a day-to-day basis, and these partnerships can provide excellent experiences. However, all students must have an official faculty sponsor who oversees the project and the student's research experiences, and provides mentoring and support.  
  • How can I find a potential mentor for the Biology Honors Program? It is common, but not required, for students to begin working in a lab before entering the Biology Honors Program.
    • Already working in a lab? If a student is interested in joining the program and is already working in a lab, they will benefit from already having a good sense of the research environment and research questions of their lab. A student already in a lab should discuss with their faculty mentor what kinds of projects could be done as an honors project, and they should discuss the expectations and suitability of the program for both the student and mentor. 
    • Not yet working in a lab? If a student is not already working in a faculty member's lab and is interested in joining the program, they will need to contact one or more potential mentors to begin these discussions. The student should first consider what areas of biology most interest them and look over the research being done by faculty in their area of interest to find potential mentors. The student should then contact one or more potential mentors to begin a dialog: tell potential mentors a bit about yourself (e.g., what are your interests? why does this lab in particular interest you and seem like a good fit? what prior experiences have led you to want to do an Honors project? what do you envision doing after graduation?); send a copy of your transcript and a resume (so they can get a sense of prior experiences), and ask them whether they would be willing to discuss the possibility of your joining their lab. Students may choose to first ask to work in a faculty member's lab as a volunteer, without initially bringing up joining the Biology Honors Program (especially appropriate for freshman and sophomores, who have the luxury of time before joining the program), or students may decide to discuss the possibility of doing an Honors project from the start (especially appropriate for later-stage undergraduates who may want to find a mentor who is willing to be a Biology Honors mentor from the start). Students should ask to meet with the potential mentor(s) to discuss the possibility of joining their lab, and may want to also discuss registering for non-honors research (e.g., BSCI 279 or BSCI 399). (If a student gets no response after emailing a potential mentor, they can respectfully resend the email a few days later (everybody’s busy! and it’s not uncommon to have to nudge once or twice for a response... but if two nudges gets you nowhere, you should take that as a "no" and move on to other potential mentors.) If a student would like additional help finding a mentor, they can contact the Biology Honors Program Director for suggestions (indicate in your email what steps you've already taken to find a mentor and what your main interests are, so that suggestions and advice can be tailored to your situation). 
  • How do I develop my research honors project? It is typical for students to develop their honors projects over weeks to months, through ongoing discussions with the mentor. 
  • What are the roles of mentors in the program? Prospective mentors can learn about the roles and expectations of Biology Honors mentors on our Mentors page.


Applications are considered on a rolling basis. However, it is preferred that interested students submit an application at least one month prior to the semester the student wishes to enter the program. Admission of students to the Biology Honors Program will consider the past performance of the student, the student's interest, and the student's prospects for success in the program.
 

Apply to the program

To apply to the program:

  1. Identify a faculty member who is willing to be your Biology Honors mentor.
  2. Apply to the program by filling in the application form
  3. Email the Biology Honors Director (Alexa Bely, abely@umd.edu) along with your mentor (and any co-mentor), together in one email, to let them know you have applied. Attach to the email a copy of your transcript (unofficial screenshot or download is fine). Please write "Biology Honors Application" in the email subject.
  4. Please ask your mentor to email Alexa Bely (abely@umd.edu) to indicate their willingness to serve as your mentor.   
​If you have any questions, please contact Alexa Bely at abely@umd.edu.

More information about the program is available in this pdf document: Biology Honors Program Information
 

 
Unsure about whether the Biology Honors Program is right for you?