Departmental Honors in Research FAQs

Application Process

No. Admission to the Honors College is not required for participation in Departmental Honors in Research program.

Think of your project proposal as an abstract. It should be around 100-200 words, no more than a page, in length. Please use Times New Roman size 12 or Arial size 11 font. If multiple paragraphs are used, be sure to indent or use paragraph breaks. Proposals can be included in the text box of the application itself or attached in a separate Word file.

Think of your project proposal as an abstract. Research mentors may have specific information that you should include. Generally, we will want to see you clearly state your research topic and why your research is important/relevant. You will want to include your methodology, results, and a short explanation of the results. You can also use the URCAD abstract guidelines as a good reference source:

Submit your application as soon as possible in order to receive updated Honors program information. Generally, it is best to have the BIOL Core  and at least one semester of BIOL 499 completed before submitting your application. It’s important to have your application in before enrolling in your third semester of independent research, BIOL 499L, or BIOL 497H.


BIOL 497H & BIOL 499L

No. BIOL 497H is a third semester of research, with an extra scientific communication component added on top of the student’s research expectations.

Students may choose to substitute the BIOL 497H requirement with one additional semester of BIOL 499 (three semesters total), plus one semester of BIOL 499L. The final semester of BIOL 499 can be taken at the same time as BIOL 499L. BIOL 499L is a one-credit lecture course taught only in the Spring semester. Students complete their seminar and thesis requirements through BIOL 499L. The final BIOL 499L thesis must be emailed to the Honors Coordinator by the end of the Final Exam period.

Yes, but to qualify for Departmental Honors, a student must do 3 semesters of research in a faculty mentor’s lab. A student must take either 3 semesters of BIOL 499, plus one semester BIOL 499L (BIOL 499L can be taken at the same time as the third BIOL 499); or 2 semesters of BIOL 499, plus one semester of BIOL 497H.

Yes, but only for the BIOL BS degree. BS students can use two semesters of BIOL 499 and one semester of BIOL 497H as one of their upper level lab electives. For students who take the BIOL 499L course, while three semesters of BIOL 499 are needed for the Honors program, only two semesters of BIOL 499 enrollment are needed for the major.

Independent research cannot be used towards the BIOL BA, BINF, or BIOC majors–although the enrollment can be used towards upper level credits needed for graduation.


Seminar Requirements

Students can find seminars across campus to attend. Biology Department seminars are held every Wednesday at noon in BS004. Eminent Speaker seminars are held on the first Thursday evening of every month. See a full list of these seminars posted on myUMBC. Seminar flyers will also be posted on the bulletin board outside the Biology Office (BS480).

Students can also attend biology-related seminars from other departments and organizations on campus, including the Chemistry Department, the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), and the Geography and Environmental Systems (GES) Department. U*RISE students may use relevant seminars offered through their program. If another department’s seminar is of more interest in a given week, and is biology-related, students are welcome to attend.

If a student wishes to attend a seminar off-campus, they are welcome to do so as well, just ask Dr. Tamra Mendelson ( if it is appropriate.

Seminar abstracts/summaries should be 1-2 pages in length. In the header of the abstract, please include the name of the presenter, the date of the seminar, the title of the presentation, and the venue/department sponsoring the event (e.g. Department of Biological Sciences, UMBC). If you attend a Biology Department seminar and need to look up the speaker/title of the seminar, you can check the department’s myUMBC Event page. The abstract/summary should be submitted as a PDF file to Dr. Tamra Mendelson (



Yes, students completing the Biology Honors program will receive a “Departmental Honors” notation on their transcript.

Students who complete Departmental Honors program will receive a green cord to wear at Commencement. Students should receive an informational email from someone in the Biology Department a few weeks before Commencement. Please do not wait until the day of Commencement to pickup your cord. A “Departmental Honors” notation will also be placed on the student’s transcript.