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Honors in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Honors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The BCMB faculty will award honors to a major based on the entirety of the candidate’s BCMB program. This includes grades in all courses required for the major (and related additional courses in biology and/or chemistry) and successful completion of a two-semester (or summer and one semester) research experience. A minimum GPA of 3.20 is required in courses counting toward the BCMB major, including transfer (and study abroad) courses that receive BCMB credit.

A prerequisite for the pursuit of honors in BCMB is that the student has identified a faculty member who can function as the BCMB honors research advisor. This faculty member commits to supervising the honors candidate in a two-semester (or summer and one semester) research experience, investigating a question that has the potential to meet the guidelines of an honors project, and serving as the faculty mentor in the BCMB Honors Candidacy Criteria and Timeline process. The student has identified this faculty member as an extension of an existing research experience, or by discussing the possibility of a research experience with the potential for pursuit of BCMB honors with individual faculty.

The honors research project should be distinguished by the originality and definition of the research problem, the sophistication of the experimental design and its execution and the analysis and presentation (written and oral) of the results. Generally, honors reports should be of publishable or near-publishable quality. The Honors Committee will consider all these factors in its recommendation to the program faculty, and the program faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting on honors.


Honors in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology consists of five main steps, as detailed in this document and outlined below.

Step 1: Candidacy Assessment, to be completed by Roll Call of Fall semester:

  • The student will email the BCMB Chair to declare their intent to pursue honors.
  • The honors research advisor will confirm the student meets the criteria for honors.
  • The BCMB Chair will form a committee consisting of the research advisor, one Chemistry BCMB faculty member, one Biology BCMB faculty member and assign an honors committee chair that is not the honors research advisor – called the Honors Committee Chair.

Step 2: Honors Proposal, to be completed by the second to last (penultimate) Monday of Fall semester classes:

  • The student will submit an honors proposal to all members of the honors committee; failure to meet this deadline will terminate candidacy. The proposal will follow the format below:
    • Specific Aims (300 words)
    • Introduction including hypothesis being tested (750 - 1000 words)
    • Experimental Methods (500 words)
    • Preliminary Data (up to 2000 words)
    • References
  • After proposal submission, committee members will evaluate the proposal using the proposal rubric and the rubrics will be sent to the BCMB Chair for evaluation (no meeting is needed).

Step 3a: Research Progress, to be completed by the end of the first week of classes of the Spring Semester:

  • Dates will be set for honors paper drafts and shared with the BCMB Chair and honors committee.

Step 3b: Research Progress, to be completed by the Friday before Spring Break:

  • The research advisor will evaluate student progress using the research progress criteria and notify Committee members and the B&MB Chair of their decision.

Step 4: Honors Thesis, to be completed by 5 pm on Friday the 12th week of spring semester classes:

  • A polished version of the honors paper must be submitted to the committee. At this time, the final paper must either partially or fully meet all criteria outlined in the thesis rubric.
  • The thesis should be no longer than 25 pages of single-spaced text in length, excluding references and figures.
  • Final edits to the honors paper are due to the committee by 5 pm Wednesday of exam week.


Step 5: Presentation and Defense, scheduled during the 13th week of the Spring semester through Wednesday of finals reading day

  • The candidate should prepare an oral presentation lasting for approximately 25 minutes at the end of the presentation, approximately 5 minutes will be allowed for questions from the audience). Faculty, students, and often family of candidates attend these presentations, and that diverse audience should be considered in the preparation of the presentation.
  • The seminar and question and answer session will be evaluated using the criteria in the presentation and defense rubric.