Honors Biology Overview

Biology has emerged as a pre-eminent science of our times, impacting society on issues as diverse as environmental deterioration, global warming, energy production, human reproduction, science education and the battles against cancer, pathogens and age-related and genetic diseases. Having a detailed understanding of how biological research is done is becoming increasingly important for making informed decisions about social and political policies as well as for entering into the many biology-related career paths now available.

Biology Honors thesis projects (BIO 499, also called senior research or capstone projects) are intended to give high caliber students first-hand experience in designing and carrying out biological research on a subject of interest to them. By working in close relation with one or more experienced faculty members, students are also exposed to the collaborative nature of research activity, which is vital to doing innovative and productive science. BIO 499 projects can also be “hands-off” scholarship projects, meaning strictly library/internet research and writing projects on research or the history of research in Biology, or related fields.

Honors Pathways

Biology majors have their choice of four pathways, only three of which are actually in Honors:

  1. Graduate with an Honors Interdisciplinary Studies minor by completing 19 credit hours (CH) comprised of Honors 100/101 (1 CH), and 18 CH of Honors courses, which must include a diversity or global engagement course, and an experiential learning course. See the Honors program advising sheet for more information.
  2. Graduate as an Honors Scholar with Distinction in Biology by completing pathway 1, and a departmental capstone/senior thesis/senior project, which is BIO 499A, 499B, and 499C (2 CH each for 6 CH). This has additional Honors and Biology course requirements, including BIO 491H and BIO 495/6H, which are explained below.
  3. Graduate as an Honors Scholar by completing pathway 1, and a senior portfolio project (SPP). This has additional Honors course requirements that are discussed in the Honors college website.
  4. Graduate with Distinction in Biology by just doing a departmental capstone/senior thesis/senior project, which is BIO 499A-C (2 CH each for 6 CH). This does not require being in the Honors College and has no additional Honors or Biology course requirements.
Student Information Sheet

Complete information on the Biology Honors program, including general descriptions of the Honors thesis project, tips for finding a research advisor, and requirements for specific honors classes are provided in the document linked below. We strongly recommend you review this document before contacting the Biology Honors Liaison with questions. 

Biology Honors Information Sheet

Questions? Please contact Chris Rose at rosecs@jmu.edu.

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